I want to shout this one from the rooftops!! This one is HUGE!!
This past Sunday, Tessa and I earned her Intermediate Freestyle title in WCFO Freestyle at the Barkaritaville event!!!
Getting to this point has been quite a road. But now that Tessa and I have reached the destination, a destination that I sometimes thought we might not reach, I have to say it has been a perfect road for us!
Several months ago, a friend and I were at the training building just noodling around. I made a joke that if I put music on and went out on the floor and walked around as if I were bored, Tessa would probably perform enthusiastically.
Well . . . I was astonished by the result. After seeing how much Tessa got into it, we took a video . . .
It occurred to me that I could build a routine out of that. And together, piece by piece, Tessa and I created a routine!
And it was a routine that both of us loved!! It is not typical Freestyle, but it is very much Tessa!! And, I added in a jumping sequence to please her. That actually pleases me, too!!
Here is a practice video of that routine from a couple of weeks ago . . .
I decided to enter it in Barkaritaville. I had actually made up my mind after the Mardi Growl last spring, when Tessa clearly did not enjoy herself in the ring in competition, that I was not going to make her compete again. Even though we only needed one more leg to get the title, I don't believe any title is worth making a dog do something that he or she decidedly does not enjoy.
But . . . I thought that with this routine things might be different. Besides, Tessa has always been pretty comfortable at the facility where Barkaritaville is held.
In the weeks leading up to the event, I was getting more and more excited. I knew we had a shot with this. I didn't let myself think about that much, but I will admit, I imagined it a bit. I imagined that moment when I looked at the scoresheet and saw 8.5 and 8.5!!
Friday evening I made my props!! I wrapped two of my three jumps in metallic gold streamer stuff, along with the two bars. The third jump is purple and I didn't wrap that one, but I wrapped the bar in metallic purple streamer stuff. Then I made two apples out of sparkly cardstock paper and sign that says "(Heart) NY". I attached zip ties so I could attach those things to the jumps at the event.
The three stanchions with decorations attached:
Yeah, the "N" is upside-down!! Oh well!!
My friend, Stephanie, and I actually went down on Saturday morning to drop off my crate and props because we needed to go to York to pick up meat for the dogs.
So, I was all set on Sunday. I had checked the schedule several times and I was scheduled to be on in the group after lunch. I took a lot of time on Sunday morning running the dogs and relaxing and getting packed in a leisurely fashion.
I got a Facebook message from a friend just as I was making my final preparations . . . "The schedule was wrong, you are before lunch".
There was absolutely nothing I could do at that point. It was too late for me to get there in time.
All I could do was finish packing, load Tessa up, and go, and hope that they would allow me to perform.
But, of course, there was no way to know, so I was apprehensive. I tried not to let it affect me, but of course it did. I hurried there as quickly as I could, and I made very good time.
When I got there, my friend told me it was OK - they would let me go after lunch.
I was grateful for that. She, and another friend of mine, worked it out, and I appreciated that so much.
The bummer of the situation was that I missed most of the event. I had planned to get there right around lunch time, socialize a bit, and then watch the two groups after lunch, before and after Tessa and I went. As it was, I missed all but four who would go on before me, and the Innovations teams.
I did break tradition and I got lunch at the event. Usually I leave the event and go to Roma Pizza - their subs are delicious!! But the last thing I wanted to do when I had just gotten there was to leave!! The food they had was really good, and I was able to buy it even though I had not ordered ahead.
So, I did get to visit with a lot of Freestyle friends, and then it wasn't long before I was warming Tessa up and it was our turn to perform.
It was something of a feat to get those jump props in and set up in under a minute!! I got it done, but just in time to go get Tessa and then go in to perform with her!!
The performance didn't start out so great. Tessa didn't hold her stay on the opening move. That was OK, though - I just had her move with me in front and then circle behind, as she does on the video from the stay. But then she broke off and sniffed a particular spot on the ground instead of coming with me. I had to call her a few times and tap my leg to get her back. She did catch up to me after that and do the first switch, and then she did the second switch. She did her weaves and her place-pony (not shown in the video). But she was supposed to pivot behind me, and she sat . . . OK.
After that it ran smoother. The jump/blind cross was perfection, and her paw kicks were adorable. That got applause!! Then we went into the jumping sequence. One little blip - she ended up on the wrong side of me, so I just went beyond the jumps instead of staying on the inside. That was fine. Maybe better because she was more visible.
Finally, the closing. That went pretty well.
Then Tessa had to go to her crate while I got the jumps off the floor. I about felt like falling over at that point. As much as I love this routine, I will never again bring an entire Jumpers course to a live Freestyle event where I have one minute to set up and one minute to take down!!!
Anyway, I was very pleased with the whole thing, especially with Tessa, and friends said that her tail wagged the entire time. To me that counts the most!!
I had to wait a bit into the Innovations routines, but scores came out very quickly. I couldn't believe it when I saw our sheet - 8.6 Technical and 8.7 Artistic!!!!
Not even by the skin of our teeth!! Those are good scores!!
I wasn't sure how I would really feel about earning this title with Tessa. This is the one that got away from Speedy and me. It always seemed like he should have had our Intermediate title. We tried so hard for so long, but never got that last leg. He was either too overstimulated, or he just couldn't swing the technical content.
So . . . Tessa. My Agility girl. She has never loved Freestyle although she has had her moments when she enjoyed it pretty well.
I am perfectly happy!! It actually means a lot to me that it was Tessa who earned this title.
And, in some way I feel like she did finish what Speedy and I started. Yes, she had to start from scratch and work her way through from Beginner. And yes, it took us two years and seven tries to earn the three legs that we needed for the title. But we made it!!
And, we did it with a routine that I can truly think of as Tessa's own.
In the end it was all perfect!!
So I am pleased to give my hugest congratulations to:
Tessa, CL3, CL4-R, CL4-F, CL4-H, WFDM-MF, WFD-HTM, RFE-X, RFE-Alt-N, CRO-I(3), P-CRO-II, D-CRO-Preliminary, ATD, and DCD-CH (Team Hammar), DCD-Ent(2) and DCD-CF(2) (Team Hammar)
And C-ATCH bound . . . !!!
Tessa's big reward for all of this - premiums for three Agility trials went out yesterday. The Amazing Flying Tessa is on a mission!!!