Sunday, February 19, 2012

First Agility Q

Yesterday we went to the NADAC trial that I've been looking forward to since our first one in December.  Tessa was entered in two rounds of Tunnelers, one round of Weavers, and one round of Touch and Go.  Dean was also entered in Tunnelers and Touch and Go.  This was Dean's first trial since last spring and the first one that Tessa, Dean, and I attended together.  The first of many, I'm sure!

When we got there I went in on my own and got a spot and got Tessa's crate set up.  They were running Hoopers, so I had plenty of time to do that and bring them in for a few minutes.  Tessa had never been in Bella Vista, but she immediately knew it was a "dog place" and was completely at ease.  I was hoping that Dean might pick up on some of her confidence, as Speedy had at the demo, and maybe he did.  He ended up being pretty happy all day long.

Weavers was first for us, and I only had one run in Weavers since Dean's weaves aren't terribly solid right now.  I went out to run with Tessa very excited, but when we started to run, I got nervous.  That's actually very unusual.  Typically I am nervous just before stepping into the ring, but once the run or performance starts I forget that and am just in the moment with my dog.  But I got hit with nerves a few times during this run.

First, I froze on the first set of poles.  Still, I managed to remember not to crowd her and she got through the first set with no problem.  She was a bit hesitant, but that's because I was.  No problem through the next tunnel and the first hoop in a three hoop sequence.  But then I crowded the second hoop and pushed Tessa past it.  I decided to retry it.  It's not a problem to do that with Tessa because it doesn't make her think she's wrong.  She was happy to oblige and even threw a play bow at me!!  Then I gave her too much space on the next hoop and we had to retry that one.  I was rewarded with another play bow!!  After that it went much better.  Her third set of poles were true "Tessa Weaves"!

It occurred to me that I would probably have been more comfortable doing Weavers later in the day, but in the end it was fine.  She qualified!!  That was her first ever Agility Q!!  Here is a video!!

It didn't occur to me that seeing "Q" on her label and pulling out a Q ribbon would bring up so many emotions.  How many times I did that for Maddie's many, many qualifying runs!!!  In fact, that was my first Agility Q since Maddie's last - her one and only Level 5 Q at Bella Vista last spring.  So it felt good and exciting to pick up Tessa's very first one ever, but it was also very bittersweet.  The final torch was passed.  I know Tessa and I will carry it well, but of course I'm still very sorry that Maddie is gone.  It was just a reminder of that.

In spite of that, I was, of course, proud beyond words of Tessa.  She has come so far, and in a remarkably short amount of time.  A year ago she wasn't even going through a baited chute barrel in class.  I would have expected her first Agility Q to be years away, but she really is ready now!  At least to start.

After that, it wasn't long before it was time to walk for our first round of Tunnelers.  Because the trial was so small, everyone walked at once, so I had to walk the course for both Tessa and Dean at the same time.  There were some major differences in the way I needed to plan for each of them.  Since I knew I could beat Tessa to the end of the curved tunnels, I planned blind crosses.  But I knew that Dean would be ahead of me, so I had to plan rears.  I'm going to have to think about that in the future when I sign up for trials.  Maybe split rounds between them or something, at least until Tessa gets to running faster.

Dean ran first because he was in Open.  He was really excited to be there, which was a real change for him.  He went out very eager to run, and run he did!  He FLEW!!  And he ended up pretty much making up his own course!  He was all over the place.  But he was happy, and I was glad for that!!

After he ran, I brought Tessa in and let her hang out in the crate.  When we went out to run there were no nerves.  I knew it was going to go well, and it did.  Everything went according to plan - perfect!!  Tessa didn't miss a beat.  She even got out ahead of me a little in a few places.  More of that will come with experience.  I have a video of this run, too!

And that was her second Q!!

More to come in Part 2 . . . !!!!


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