Jimmy and I have returned from the 2014 AKC National Agility Championship in Harrisburg, VA. While it was an amazing (and somewhat overwhelming) experience, I am sorry to say, that Jimmy and I could not pull off a single clean run. Now, at the Nationals, scoring is handled differently than a normal trial. Where a knocked bar would normally disqualify you, at the NAC it is just a points deduction. Miss a contact, another deduction, but you are still in the running. So, technically, Jimmy and I qualified in all three rounds. But unless you score a perfect 100, you don't earn a ribbon. It saddens me to say we went home empty-handed.
On Thursday, we all had a warm-up run in the form of Time 2 Beat. It was in the smaller arena, where I liked the footing a bit better. Jimmy ran it well, but alas, he took out the double jump near the end. I didn't really mind since it was not counting toward the championship and we had just earned our T2B title recently.
Here's the video:
Friday was Jumpers w/Weaves (JWW). Now, ordinarily at a trial, Jimmy stresses down. Where he is wild and bossy in class, the tension of a trial subdues him noticeably. However, the super-charged environment of the big arena with three rings going simultaneously, announcer's loud speaker going full blast, and visual contact with the adjacent ring and its speedy border collies, amped Jimmy up to the stratosphere. I had a moment where I was worried he would leave me to chase the dog in the other ring. Thank goodness that did not happen, but he was so high that he could not think! He crashed three jumps and got very frustrated when he missed his weave pole entry. We ended this run with a score of 75 thanks to 5 faults. Ouch.
Here's the video:
Saturday was Standard, also in the big arena, but at the other end by the front entry. Fortunately, the start of this course was set up facing away from the middle ring. Jimmy was much calmer, and quess what? He kept all the jumps up! But it was my turn to screw up. As he ran down the dogwalk, I never said a word. I usually tell him to wait, so he doesn't fly off too soon. Nothing came out of my mouth, nothing! He didn't hit the yellow zone and we got a fault. Totally my fault! Crap. So we ended with a score of 95. Currently I don't have video for this run. The company doing the videos put someone else's video on my USB card. I'll post it when they send me a correction.
And here it is:
And finally, Sunday's Hybrid run. Hybrid is a combo of a JWW and a Standard run...lots of jumps, but no dogwalk, and the Standard Course Time is speedier than usual. This one was in the smaller arena. Jimmy and I were the very first 12 inch team to run it! No chance to watch for pitfalls in other teams' runs. But it was very nice not to have to wait for HOURS for my run as happens when you are number 205 in the 12 inch line-up. Things were going well, we were in the home stretch, and Jimmy took out the double jump again. The extra big jumps are very tough for Jimmy and that is usually where the bars come down. Again we ended with a score of 95.
Here's the video:
So what's the take-away from all this? I am very grateful that I qualified for this big event and even more grateful I was able to run Jimmy myself, given the state of my knee. Jimmy worked very hard in what I am sure was a very intimidating environment for him. He can be very noise sensitive and I am very happy he did not just shut down and hide in a tunnel. I also think the 12 inch class is just a tad too tall for him. Clearing the large jumps takes a lot of effort. Unfortunately, thanks to my knee, Jimmy had had next to no practice prior to the big event, and I imagine he was not in tip-top condition either. His jumping muscles needed a bit more umph that he just didn't have after the long lay-off. I love him to pieces for trying as hard as he did, and of course, he doesn't know about the lack of ribbons. I have to be honest and say I have done a bit of sulking that we did not get even one clean run ribbon. For the emotional human part of this team, the ribbon was my reward and ultimate souvenir. For the logical human part of this team, I know the victory was not in the ribbons/clean runs, but in getting to the Championship and running those runs. We both tried and that's what counts, but darn, it hurt seeing everyone walk around with their hands full of green ribbons. I can be such a brat sometimes!
To end this on a very upbeat topic, I want to send out HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to fellow Cardigan owner / blogging buddy / kick-ass agility competitor Merinda Tiffany and her brindle boy Porter for winning, yes, WINNING the 4 inch preferred National Championship!