Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The whole story

 We finally left Springfield, MO at 7:00 PM Wednesday night.  This put us into Springfield, IL at midnight.  By the time we got checked in and unloaded and settled down it was closer to 1:00 AM.  Naturally I didn't sleep well and we were back up at 5:45.  Most of the day I was too busy to be tired.  First up was briefing, walking and unloading at our stall.
Our crating stall

Next up, time to run! As I mentioned before Lyric ran ok but didn't weave well or do any of the mandatory distance lines.  Each course (except one-I'll get to that later) had a distance line similar to a chances course (not an elite course, more like novice or open).  If you tried and failed it was a 5 point fault but if you didn't even try it was 10.
Waiting with friends to walk the course
Legend, as we all know was a rock star getting off to a great start with 2 clean runs and 2 eighth places.  Already my experience was worthwhile as we accomplished my two goals of a clean run and a placement.  Already better than last time.  But it was not without a bit of a struggle.  While taking a short walk prior to round 1 the building next to the arena was getting roofing work done.  Apparently Legend is terrified of nail guns.  All she wanted to do was run and hide in our crating area.  But once we got in the arena and way from the noise she settled down and ran great.  Nail guns continued to be an issue until the work week ceased Friday afternoon.

It was a late night and even though I had hit a wall in the afternoon by the time Round 2 scores were posted I had perked up again.  Linda worked the last class and we did not leave the fairgrounds until after 8 PM.  By the evening I was seeing fleas on my dogs and suspected the hotel.

Day two was very similar to day one.  Legend continued her streak of clean runs and picked up two fifth places.  The more clean runs we got the more relaxed I should have been, but instead I felt the pressure to continue the streak!  But it was a good kind of pressure.
Legend and one of her 5th place ribbons

Lyric ran about the same as the day before.

We also had team competition today. Legend, BC Chaney, and Aussie Kruzer formed a veteran team with more than 20 agility championship titles between them.  "Furever Young" had a clean round 1 but we didn't find out until the next day that we placed seventh.
Furever Young

Legend, Kruzer, and Chaney

Day three things really started to get interesting.  Legend took her first off course in round 5, placing her out of the ribbons but it did not net her a disastrous score.  The afternoon round was an Extreme Games Challenge course.  This was the course with no distance line. We have never done EGC but maybe we should as it favors Legend's running style.  The course was all hoops and tunnels and was judged strictly on speed and flow.  Flow being the most direct/smoothest line between obstacles.  You got faulted for every step the dog took out of flow such as spinning going wide, turning back to look at the handler, etc.  This gave Legend an advantage as she is not a crazy fast dog.  She also has a relatively fast handler and is used to running smooth courses as she has an AKC background where refusals are scored regularly.  Legend rocked this course ending up 2nd in our group of 16 inch veterans and a lot of the other faster dogs struggled.  Long time friend and competitor Kiely and Hugo took first.  This course really helped Legend move up in the standings.  Lyric ran well in this too only missing one hoop.  Normally you would correct the missed hoop but going back to fix a missed obstacle will net you more out of flow faults than just skipping it will.

Team round 2 was also today and before the end of the day we found out we had won that round.  With the team competition going well and Legend unbelievably having a shot at making the finals I was flying higher than a kite by the time we headed back to the hotel.
Team ribbons

Day 4 came with lots of excitement, anxiety and emotion.  I knew we needed to run clean in this round to stay within reach of the finals.  She did, but not without a scary moment at the end.  This course ended with dogwalk, jump, left turn to a jump and then right to a tunnel.  Legend (as I predicted) ran past the jump since she thought the course was over and I had to call her back. She ran past once more before I got her over and through the tunnel.  Our part was done.  The rest lay with the other dogs.  The dog I needed to catch, also a friend, had 2 bars down but was faster.  In the end we finished 2 points behind them.  But our assumption about 25% making the finals ended up being incorrect.  When we gathered in the arena for the announcements of the finalists we were told that the top third of each class would make it.  One of the ridiculous things about NADAC, you never know these things in advance, Sharon just makes them up as she sees fit.  Anyway, that meant Legend did make the finals.  Six dogs from our group went and Legend was seeded 5th.  Four of the dogs in our finals group were friends that we compete against all the time including 1st seeded Hugo so we all thought that was pretty cool.
Some of the Midwestern finalists

Anyway, before the announcement of the finalists there was Team round 3.  We had a good clean but not totally flawless run in this and ended up second.  Then we just had to wait until the awards to see how it all shook out.

Lyric had her best run of the trial in round 7.  She even weaved!  Had it not been for a dropped bar she would have placed!

On to the finals!  I was surprisingly not nervous about this.  I just wanted to enjoy being there.  I knew that realistically we could not change our overall place much because the scores were cumulative.  If we started with a fresh plate then I would have been more nervous because in that case anything can happen.  As it turned out, Legend didn't get the distance challenge start so I crossed the line and got a 5 point fault.  Then it went well until the weaves where after 2 failed attempts I just went on.  Several dogs struggled with the weaves on this round, not sure why.  After that I just let her have fun.  She jumper her a-frame contact and missed a few jumps but then got back on track to finish strong. It would have been nice to have a better run but all in all we really could not have a better weekend.
Legend in the finals

We had not anticipated making finals and so we hit the road shortly after Legend's run.  I found out on the way home that Team Furever Young took 2nd overall in the Veteran team competition.  One of my teammates is mailing the huge ribbon that comes with that.  I was sorry to miss the award ceremony where we got our team ribbon and many of my friends received their awards for higher placements in the finals.  But if that is my biggest regret of the weekend than that is not bad at all!

We had a great experience this week with all of our friends.  Everyone was very supportive of each other and happy for each other's accomplishments.  And everyone seemed to do well with many of the people we trial with locally earning placements, getting clean runs, and making the finals.  And even thought it was long days, little sleep, plenty of sweat and even a few tears (happy ones, from lots of us) it was totally worthwhile.

But mostly I am so proud of Legend.  She went above and beyond what I expected and gave me an amazing championships experience.  She did every contact fearlessly, ran with speed and enthusiasm, fought through fear, and gave 110% all week long.

"...the best damn thing I lucked in to?
That's easy girl, mine would be you"
                                                               -Blake Shelton, Mine Would Be You

Rock on merlie girlie.  


Sara said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a great time!

Karissa said...

You guys had a really fabulous week! Congrats, on all counts! :o)

Diana said...

Yay!! Congrats on a great weekend!! Thats awesome!

Breanna said...

You guys had a great week, and so many fun runs to watch!

Melinda Wichmann said...

What a wonderful time! Congrats!