First up in the morning (or so I thought) was conformation. Our ring time was 8am and we were the first breed in. For some reason I was confident that over in agility, they were running JWW in the order of Excellent, Open, and then Novice. Not sure why I thought that, but oh well. Because I was so convinced that I wouldn't be running Bess in agility until later, I didn't even both to go over and get my number and course maps first thing. I was planning on waiting until after conformation was over to take care of that stuff. So conformation got under way and it was fun to watch who the judge was picking. Then Bess' turn came around. I made sure that I worked it for all I was worth. We were thankfully the first dog into the ring, so for the final line up I was able to chuck bait out of the ring and really get her ears forward and have her at attention. And we won our class! Woot! We went back in for Winners Bitch and I really wanted it! I did a decent job, but there were a few areas where I could have done a little better. The judge pulled Bess and a few other bitches out for her cut. She picked the bitch ahead of us for WB and I was really hoping that she'd at least pick us for reserve. And she did! Bess got a major reserve! No points, but it's exactly the kind of encouragement that we need right now. I get many comments from conformation people about how she should finish, she's sound, blah, blah, blah. That's great to hear and all, but it doesn't mean a whole lot when you get dumped time after time.
After packing up our stuff and putting Bess out in the truck to relax and chill, I went over the agility ring to see how things were going. I got our number and was able to find our Standard map, but didn't see the Open JWW map out. I thought that maybe it was just one of those things where they weren't going to put the maps out until right before they started letting people walk the course. I've had that before and didn't think too much of it. Excellent was in the ring and I just went off on my merry way. I headed back out to the truck to hang with Bess and catch a few z's. A few hours later I went back inside to see where things were at. It was getting close to our time to walk the course in Standard. Cool beans! I walked it and wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do since I had already banked on using JWW as our "test" class. I figured I'd just go for it and see what happened. At this point, there were a ridiculous amount of spectators. The bleachers were quite full and the ring side seating was totally full. I have never felt so exposed before in agility! I seriously felt like I had showed up for the event in my underwear and everyone was staring. It was the weirdest sensation. Anywho, the Open and Novice classes are so much smaller than the Excellent classes that I planned on just going and grabbing Bess once I finished walking so that I could bring her inside and figure out where I could manage to get a little space for us to hang out amidst the throngs of spectators and competitors.
The course was decent enough, that I just decided to go for it with Bess and try to work through whatever. After the ridiculous crowds, I realized that this weekend especially, literally anything that we do in those rings is going to be essentially useless for what we want to accomplish right now. The spectators around the rings and in the stands are doing all sorts of things that they most likely don't realize are negatively reinforcing the dogs out there and I saw a lot of handlers who were struggling with things that I haven't seen them struggle with before. I also saw other handlers who were handling the courses far more conservatively than is usual due to having to manage how the crowd was affecting their runs. Oh yes, and even with multiple signs posted and many announcements NOT to use flash photography, it happened a fair amount. It was a pretty spectacular crap shoot. I will say this though, Bess did the last half of the course beautifully and I was really pleased with that. She also enjoyed herself, but kept that part in control and was jumping correctly. Good sign there. However, she over shot the table coming off the dog walk (mostly a lack of deceleration cue from me that I usually give before she hits the table) and headed towards the ring barrier where a group of lovely spectators thought it was absolutely adorable that she was coming towards them. They said something in her direction, though I didn't catch exactly what, and that pretty well pissed me off. Do NOT encourage my dog to come off the course and move towards you! That is so not cool! These people seriously don't seem to realize that this is a TRIAL. This is not some fun run where we don't care what our dogs do. We're paying good money for these runs to try and accomplish whatever our individual goals are. Screwing with the dogs in the process is beyond not helpful.
After the dog walk we had a jump and then the weaves. She missed her first entry, which is fine. It's something that we don't have 100% in practice, so I don't expect it 100% in this type of setting. The second time around she got it and she started making her way methodically through the weaves. It wasn't fast, but right now I much prefer her doing her weaves correctly than getting overly excited about speed and blowing through them as she sometimes does. As we're going through the weaves the crowd around the ring and in the bleachers starts laughing like it's the funniest thing that this big dog is carefully picking her way through the weaves. Well it's not. They're laughter and negative encouragement was causing some problems. I could see the tension building in Bess as she was nearing the end and her speed was picking up. I thought she would make it through, but she popped out at the last weave and I opted to just go on and not deal with that whole scenario again. Pretty awesome. The rest of the course went well, I was just highly annoyed with the crowd at that point. She got lots of praise at the end of the run because she finished beautifully.
From there I put her in her crate ring side and went to check on our JWW runs. There were some 24" Excellent runs left and I watched that. Once those were over I went to check Bess in for our run and saw the sheet for the ISC Excellent class. What??? There happened to be a woman standing next to me checking out the line up and I asked her if they were going to run Novice and Open after the ISC classes. She kind of looked at me a little weird and told me that they had already run Novice and Open first thing in the morning. My jaw dropped. I had completely missed Bess' run because I didn't bother to verify the running order! ARG! Oh well.
I was so frazzled from realizing that I missed our run, that I was about ready to pack things up and head home when I got a call from Andrea. She was calling to let me know roughly when we would be doing our rally team run. D'oh! So not only did I completely miss an agility run, but I almost forgot about rally altogether! Wow. Seriously sleep deprived here.
Our rally team consisted of two great danes, a bullmastif, and a husky. Yes, we were the non traditional rally team.;) I thought our team did quite well as a whole considering that all four handlers have been involved in a variety of events at this show over the past few days. I think we're all a little tired. Sadly, out of four teams, we placed fourth, but at least we enjoyed ourselves!
And now that I'm caught up with the day, I'm starting to plan for tomorrow. I am honestly incredibly tempted to not run Bess in agility at all. I think the crowds will be slightly less, but still to a point where it's not necessarily beneficial to us. And I'm tired and would like to leave after our conformation ring time.;) We'll see how it goes. At least I have some great ideas on what I need to work with Bess on in our practices now. I'll probably have an entire post about that alone so that I can also get some feed back from people and see what they think.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend!