It felt strange leaving on Friday for a "try-out" for an International event and not bringing Zen. I will admit to feeling quite emotional about leaving her behind. Now we move onto the next generation and Zen's daughters Zaz and Zeki were now trying out for the European Open Agility Championships for the first time.
Since we sold our caravan last year this season is all about trying to find clean, reasonable Bed and Breakfast accommodation that allows all the dogs. I have found Facebook and the Agility Forum great resources for this and we booked a B&B that was recommended to me from the Forum. We drove up Friday night so that we would be fresh for Saturday's try-outs and I was lucky to catch a ride with Nancy. It is much nicer than driving that far alone. Dennis stayed home with Zen and worked in the garden getting us ready to start planting veggies this year. God help us as we don't know what we are doing!
The B&B was an interesting place. We were slightly worried as the person that recommended it said the accommodation was in a "summer house". As we drove up the the main house we noticed a little wooden "shed" with a porch. I was so worried that that was the summerhouse! Nancy and I were already starting to think that we maybe needed to do a quick get-away and were planning our escape just in case. I knocked on the door to the main house and was greeted by a flock of young boys and I had visions of "Lord of the Flies". I was getting more worried by the second! Added to that there were screams from the many peacocks roaming around the grounds and the dogs were going crazy. Hmmmm....I was starting to miss my caravan!
Luckily the boy walked past the wooden shed and down a path to a big wooden "summer house". It was actually nice, clean and surrounded by grass so that we could exercise the dogs. The room was good although the shower room was small; overall a good find albeit a strange place at first! I need to start to keep lists of these B&Bs because it can be so difficult to find the right place to stay. Once I have been there I feels comfortable knowing what to expect for the next time.
We arrived at the Lincoln Showgrounds on Saturday morning. It is a fantastic venue for an Agility show; I wish it was not so far away for us to go to for more shows. The EO try-outs were in conjunction with the Lincoln Agility show but the ring was off to the side so it felt more private. I was really looking forward to working Zaz on some difficult courses and I was not disappointed as the courses all day were fantastic. I just love a course that you have to work hard at the entire time. I won't say Zaz and I handled every course perfectly but we gave it a good try and loved the challenges.
The first course was jumpers. It was a tight course and I felt like I was trying to control Zaz too much. We got through 3/4 of the course and the rubber band broke and I just could not get Zaz off an off course jump. If I had layered a jump and/or used a directional I think it would have worked but hindsight is easy! You will be able to find the off course; just listen to where my Zaz Zaz ZAZ get louder. LOL Not one of our best runs for sure!
The second run was agility. This run didn't go so well! The start included a tight wrap turn off a jump onto the dog walk with a tunnel under it. This trap caught many good teams and gave me a good training plan for this week. I have trained dogwalk tunnel discrimination but obviously not as well as I thought!
By the third run I was feeling desperate. Not because I was desperate to go to the EO but because I knew my little Zaz was better than this. I was at the point where I just wanted to prove to myself that I could get a clear round. I will admit I was also thinking I wish I had Zen with me as she helps me out on tough courses!
Thank God we finally got a clear on this third round! I was happy with most of the run except for the push through from 3 to 4. Something more to work on this week!
So now I was excited for the final agility round. The course was changed and the dog walk was moved for this round. In the first two agility rounds the majority of the dogs (even those who had never been on rubber contacts) handled the rubber/aluminum dog walk really well. The rubber contact equipment was a pleasure to run the dogs on; I loved the lack of noise as the dogs traversed the rubber equipment.
The final round began with the large dogs running first. This was good for us as it was the larger class and we could watch 60 dogs run the course before it was our turn. Smalls were running last.
Then disaster struck! Dog after dog balked severely on the dog walk. Confident experienced dogs were crawling up the dogwalk plank or hitting the deck expecting the dog walk to move. Some dogs fell/jumped off. This was so sad to watch and no one could understand why this was happening. We all tried to understand why. Could it be the supports were not placed properly? Could it be the vibration because the supports were not pegged? Could it be the sun shining on the up plank or aluminum supports which blinded the dog or made it appear slatless? These dogs were obviously convinced it was the see-saw.
I was getting more and more nervous for Zaz. She is a young dog with running contacts and I did not want to risk her being injured and/or having her confidence shattered. It was my job to keep her safe and confident no matter what. Sometimes we cannot help it when bad things happen but this time I knew it was happening and at least I could do something about it.The final straw was watching 3 confident experienced medium dogs (2 who had been world/eo dogs before and had run on rubber equipment many times) do the exact same thing. I did what I felt was necessary for Zaz and I; I pulled her from the last round.
I was sad to have to do this; I am competitive enough to have wanted to be chosen for the team. Yet I was happy to have made that decision; my dogs come first and I would have been devastated to have done anything to knock Zaz's confidence and trust in me when I had another option. I had no excuse as I had just watched the large and medium dogs. I could understand the large and medium handlers thinking that "their" dogs would not have any trouble. After all they had just run two rounds with the same equipment and the dogs were fine. I had the "luxury" of watching and my decision was made.
The good thing was that the course was set so that the dogwalk was towards the end of the run and I planned an exit strategy. The course was correct up until 2nd tunnel where I then took 3 jumps out of the ring. This is why you hear my video person questioning was I going to do it! LOL
So the day was over. We were staying on for the next days regular agility show at the same venue. So at least I felt like the trip was not wasted.
We started packing up all our stuff. Why is that i start out the weekend with a nice organized car and after one day my "stuff" seems to explode and double in size? When I heard the announcement that they were going to officially announce the team I wandered over to cheer for the new Team GB. I was officially gob-smacked to hear my name called as a wild card; I truly did not expect it. I cannot compete at any of these events without thinking of Hex. Sometimes I even wonder if I should continue to compete at these events as it never seems to get easier to stop missing her. I felt very emotional at that moment not because I was picked but because I was so proud of my little dog Zaz. I am strangely glad that Zaz is so different from Hex as I do not need to ever worry about comparing them.
So Zaz has now been chosen for her first International event in another country. I have no idea how we are getting to Austria and worry about the cost and the long trip but bizarrely still want to go.
The day was made even better when we heard that Zaz's big sister Zeki was chosen for the medium team. Zen is such a fantastic dog that she needed to send two of her children in her place!
Team GB medium
Team GB small
More about the Lincoln show and Itzy Bitzy later!
If you are still reading this....please send money. This agility stuff is expensive!
Oh and here is another teaser. Wonder what breed they are?