Oh boy!! If you're going to read this post in its entirety, I recommend grabbing something to drink as well as something to munch on, because this could take a while. That's what happens when I pretty much drop off the face of the cyber earth for almost two weeks!! I will try to be relatively brief, but we all know how that goes with me. ;0) I'll just start by going in chronological order of the trip. As the trip wore on my concept of what day of the week, let alone what date it was, went completely out the window.
To start the trip, we had two and a half days of driving. Thankfully I enjoy driving, otherwise this trip would have started off on the wrong foot. I crammed the truck as full of stuff as I could, while still allowing myself technically enough visibility to change lanes relatively safely. The first day of driving I was doing solo and meeting up with my travelling buddies in Idaho. My planned route took me through the gorge, an area that I absolutely love and don't visit often enough. Naturally I decided that since I was on my own, had no real schedule, and only had to meet up with people at some non-determined time that evening in Idaho Falls, ID, I could do a little sight seeing. :0) Our first stop was only an hour into our drive. We stopped off at Multnomah Falls. I've been there with the danes individually, but not all three dogs and not at all with Ruthie. A nice guy offered to snap a picture of us, and then we were off. There is a LOT that I could have stopped and seen on the trip out, but I quickly realized that if I did that, it would take me most of the day just to get out of the gorge, never mind the rest of Oregon and part of Idaho! I amused myself by taking pictures along the route and posting them onto Facebook. Which I later got a talking to by a couple different people.;0) The first day was long, but otherwise uneventful, and as I was checking into the first motel, I bumped into some other PNW dane people! We were all tired, but excited to be on our way to what we were sure was going to be an awesome week.
Day two of driving was full of lots of relatively boring scenery. It was beautiful, but also pretty bland. We drove through the rest of Idaho and into Nevada. Our stop that night was the Motel 6 in Las Vegas! All three of us (Georgia, Stacie, and I) really would have loved to do a little sight seeing while in Vegas and make a fun night of it, but we each had multiple dogs that we were responsible for and were uncomfortable just leaving them in the motel, in an area that was a little questionable. Questionable to the point where the Motel 6 actually had security personnel walking the grounds 24/7. So while staying in Vegas sounds exciting, it's a little less so when travelling with dogs.;0)
Day three of travel started out with a foreshadowing of things to come. Stacie had been sick all night and was just barely able to keep it together enough for the final five hours to Litchfield Park, AZ. Later on I would wonder how on earth she was able to do that! It was our final day of travel and I was super excited to reach our destination. As I pulled into the resort (The Wigwam), I was just about bouncing in my seat! The place was GORGEOUS and I was excited to be there!! As a lovely topper, as I was pulling in, I saw two friends of mine, Steve and Kim, out walking their dogs! And as I was checking in, there were two other friends, Vickie and Pam!! I don't know how other people are, but when I'm travelling somewhere and I see someone I know, it adds to my excitement level. I was pretty much on cloud 9 at that point! I was then escorted by one of the bellhops in a golf cart, to my room. I quickly got the dogs into the air conditioned room (it was in the low 80's at that point and the danes were definitely starting to get hot) and unloaded all of our stuff and got settled in. The room was nice and spacious and the resort was just plain gorgeous!! The rest of the day was spent getting settled in, pottying the dogs, and figuring out who was there already and making our first grocery run to Walmart.
Saturday was the independent specialty. The entry was limited, so the specialty didn't last well into the evening as the one in 2009 had when I last went. I watched a little, but I had my three dogs to take care of as well as some jeans that still needed bedazzling before our parades "routine" on Monday night. Saturday was my first real taste of juggling of all three dogs. And at this point I should probably explain why I had all three dogs. I was a little paranoid previously about mentioning anything because I had just heard a news story about how burglars are using Facebook to figure out which houses to rob, and that kept me from mentioning a whole lot on either Facebook or the blog. Adam was out of the country for work until Oct. 29th. And I was leaving on Oct. 26th. I couldn't just leave Ruthie at the house with my in laws feeding her once a day when they came to check on the cats. And finding someone to watch her for those few days also was a head ache I wasn't really looking forward to. She's not fully housebroken still and she can make some rather interesting noises when she is displeased at being stuck in a crate. That and I would have to make arrangements for Adam to pick her up while I was gone. All the little details were proving to be enough of a head ache that I decided it would be "easiest" just to bring her along for the ride. Therefore, The Midget got to come along to the national specialty. And I digress.
The welcome party was also Sat. night. We had fun munching on food and chatting about what we thought the week was going to hold and then headed off to our rooms, since the next day was the first day of the futurity. Little did I know that I was going to end up missing the whole day. I'll spare you the gory details, but I was getting sick all Sat. night. By Sun. morning I had finished, but couldn't remain upright for more than a few minutes without feeling awful again. Pottying and feeding the dogs that morning took me almost two hours to get all the way through. I spent the whole rest of the time in bed with the two danes curled up next to me. Closer to dinner time, I was feeling well enough that I took Ruthie out for a more extended walk since by dint of her not being fully housebroken, she spent most of the day in her crate.
Monday was destined to be a very busy day and one where I really should have planned better. Due to warmer temperatures, all performance events were rescheduled to the morning time slots since they were ALL being held outside on the front lawn. Therefore my schedule was going to be obedience with both dogs in the morning, agility workshop in the afternoon, and parades in the evening. A very full day in hot weather where I should have been hydrating myself. Instead, I let this fact escape me even though I know better and I already know that I don't tolerate the heat very well. I started off the morning feeling okay, but popped some Advil and got a Coke to sort of jazz me up. At least half of this decision was not very wise. I wasn't thinking about the fact that getting sick all Sat. night had already started to dehydrate me. Then I spent all day in bed and didn't drink much better. And I was in a very dry, hot climate to boot. And I was running around in the sun all Monday. And the liquids I was taking in were ones that were diuretics. Not a good combination at all. However, I did feel pretty good throughout the day. That would late come crashing down on me. But back to Monday.
Our first task of the day was obedience. First up was Bess. We had set up our canopy, but the temperatures were already getting warm by the time her run came around. I warmed her up a bit and she didn't seem to be having a lot of difficulty thinking on the grass. As I was typing this paragraph up and realized how much I still had to talk about, I've decided that I will leave the performance portions of our trip for separate posts. Otherwise this post is going to get seriously ridiculous! I will sum Bess' performance up by saying that we unfortunately got an NQ. Overall, I can't be terribly unhappy with how she did though. She was much happier and performed much better in obedience than she did in rally. That alone makes me happy! Sort of. Heffner's run was also an NQ, which wasn't helped any by the flies that were every where bugging the dogs. The flies were actually a huge bother to Heffner while in the ring and huge bug-a-boo to the performance events overall. In all, only ONE SINGLE DOG qualified in obedience. I don't remember exactly how many were entered, but there were multiple dogs in each of the levels, including the optional titling classes. There was one novice dog who had a lovely run, but went down on the down stay. Which, of course, was in the blazing hot sun, with flies buzzing about. I will save my rant on the conditions for the performance events for a later post.;0) And did I mention that we got to meet Kathie, Jackson's mom???? That was pretty cool!!:0)
After obedience was over with, I put the dogs back into the air conditioned room while we took a little break before the agility workshop. A little break that turned into a much longer break as things were running a bit behind for the set up. I won't say much here, but I do plan on writing an entire post on the agility workshop, what I took away from it, and the importance of knowing your dog and specifically what your goals and how this plays into the way that you run your dog. Unfortunately for me, the agility workshop was not entirely helpful and may have actually set things back a bit with Bess.
Immediately after the workshop, I put the dogs away again and headed over to the motor homes. There was a surprise birthday party for one of the people from our neck of the woods. The hosts were amazing and really decorated things up to the nines!! It was amazing and it was nice to take a few minutes to relax before I had to get things ready for parades. Parades started at 7, so I was shooting for getting things set up right around 6:30pm. Heffner was going to be up on the giant ball that we have (which meant hauling along our air compressor!) and Bess was going to do some balancing on the core disc and I was hoping to do the four feet in a box as well. I tried to find the most out of the way place within the building that I could to inflate the ball because the air compressor is seriously loud! I was able to mostly find a good spot and got all of our stuff set up off to the side ring side. My friend Megan helped to stabilize the ball for Heffner, I had super awesome music (Backstreet Boys!!), super awesome custom BSB collars (thanks Kennedy!!), awesome bedazzled jeans, and some neat little tricks to fill up our time.:0) I have to say that the parades was the most fun that I had with the dogs while we were there!! The people I knew were hooting and hollering for us! It just felt so good to be out there with my dogs and for them to get acknowledged for what they've accomplished!! I do have video and I do have some pictures, but I'm going to save that for another post.:0)
Tue. was the low day of our time there. Tue. morning was agility and rally with both dogs entered in everything. I woke up early that morning with a churning stomach and my head just spinning. Initially I thought it was just nerves. It wasn't quite like what I had Sat. night, but it just wouldn't go away. Finally as time was ticking by and my alarm had already gone off, I realized this was more than just nerves. For one, I wasn't nervous about the day. Something was wrong. Agility was scheduled to start at 8am. I texted my friend Megan and asked her to scratch the dogs from their first two runs which were FAST and Time to Beat. I already knew that I wasn't going to make it for that. I struggled through pottying and feeding the dogs and started texting to see if anyone had anything with them that could quell nausea. Someone did and my friend Faith ran down to the agility field to pick it up and bring it back to me. I sucked stuff down and then Faith helped me get the danes down to our tent and their crates. I still wasn't quite right. I decided to scratch Heffner from rally because I knew that it was going to be incredibly difficult to make it through with him. Bess came up first and she did okay for the honor dog. I actually thought she was going to go down at one point because she kept sniffing at the grass. It quickly became apparent that she wasn't really into it that day. It was finally our time to run and our run fell apart at the start. After all the work that we've put in, we're still having issues with rally. I couldn't get her to sit at the start. Oh dear. The rest of the run wasn't good at all. I almost pulled her off the course because it was so disheartening. I didn't realize it at the time, but I NQed us by completely missing a sign. Not that that was difficult to do since the rally signs were located at the tops of these holders that actually allowed the breeze to blow them sideways to the point that you couldn't read the sign. Regardless, our run was atrocious and it pretty much broke me. We've put in so much work, so much time, and I've been looking forward to entering the dogs in this event for a year now, and it all fell apart. It didn't help that I was still feeling like crap. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was pretty severely dehydrated. I couldn't eat any food without feeling nauseous. I scratched Bess from her remaining rally run and got prepared to attempt to run Heffner in standard.
Standard is far and away my favorite class. And since Heffner is a little easier to run than Bess, I was planning on giving it a go with him to see how it went and that would determine what I did for the rest of our runs. Unfortunately, that fell apart as well. Things just weren't going well on the course. I wasn't running him like I normally do (no kidding!), and we were having bobbles that we don't normally have. When he ran around the tire jump, I decided to call it. The judge didn't realize what was going on when I asked to be excused and thought that I was pulling off the course because of our mistakes and offered to let me take him over one more jump for motivational purposes. I told him that I wasn't feeling good enough to continue. Some people got worried that I wouldn't make it to put Heffner away, but I knew that I at least would be able to make it back to the room to put him up. Besides, it was really best that I make it back to my room alone because I pretty much had a melt down. Like I said, we put in all this time, effort, and money and I looked forward to this event for a whole year, only to have everything completely unravel right in front of me. I had so many emotions going through me at that point, and just really needed to have some time to myself. I was also feeling incredibly guilty for bringing the dogs along on this trip where they had to spend so much of their time shut up inside a hotel room and weren't able to get off leash to stretch their legs. I just kind of lost it in my room. I got myself together enough to head back to the tent where Bess was still crated.
Bess was actually up just as I was walking back, and they asked me if I wanted to try running her. I knew that I wouldn't be able to. Another competitor, Keri, offered to try running her and I told her she could give it a shot, but I wasn't sure how Bess would do since she's never been run by someone else. I stayed out of sight and tried watching. It didn't end up working. Keri got her up to the ring entrance and it became apparent that Bess was looking for me and was just going to run out of the ring to come find me. It was worth a shot. I had Bess hang out with me on the cool grass. I am really bummed to say that I completely missed watching anyone else's rally or agility runs. I really wanted to be supportive of everyone else, but at the same time, I couldn't get off the grass without feeling ill. I finally got Bess put away and tried to eat something. I also started downing bottles of water because I had started to realize that I was mostly likely quite dehydrated. You know you're pretty dehydrated when you can down four bottles of water over the course of an hour and a few hours later, you still have nothing to pee out. I wasn't in very good shape. I headed back to the room to continue hydrating, take a nap, and get washed up for the Top 20 event that night.
The Top 20 dinner and judging was amazing!! My friend Danna and her boy Justin had made it into the Top 20 and she was really excited/nervous to be there. Another dog from Oregon, Brew, was also in the Top 20 again and was there. It's just amazing to see these top winning dogs in "real life!" Some dogs I was more impressed with after seeing them than I was after viewing their adds. It was also just fun to get all dolled up and go to the event. I didn't last terribly long though. About half way through I started feeling ill again. I headed back to the room, took a break and got changed. Then I headed back to the agility field to take down my tent and crates and head out to Walmart to pick up more food for the dogs as well as some more bottled water.
Wed. dawned bright and early with me feeling mostly normal. Heffner and Bess were scheduled for echocardiograms first thing in the morning. My friend Chris came over to help me get them both over there. I had originally planned on videoing at least one of the exams, but I forgot my camera in the hotel room and don't have any footage. The ultrasound was very cool!! And I am VERY happy to say that both dogs came out clear!! Not that I was really worried, but until I knew for sure, it was a slight nagging doubt. After returning the dogs to the room, I took another little break and got geared up to watch some conformation. The entries this year were almost half what they were in 2009 when I last went and it didn't take long to get through to winners dog. The day ended much earlier than I thought it would, so it was back to the hotel room to drink more water and take another nap. I was starting to feel better, but I still could only do a couple of hours at a time upright without feeling ill again.
I took my little nap, and then it was time to get ready for the Halloween party!! And yes, if you're keeping track, our Halloween party was on Nov. 2.;0) There was a planned group dance to Thriller as well as some other fun stuff planned. The decorations were awesome and people were really dressing up! I dressed up as a random '80's chick, complete with crimped hair! I only lasted about an hour at the party before I had to head back to the room. I tried to eat some food, but it was making me ill and I had to cut my losses and head back to rest up.
Thur. I was feeling much better and excited to have a basically "free" day where I would get to watch conformation all day!! Wed. had been all dogs and Thur. was all bitches. There were lots of lovely girls out there and I loved watching them all!! Thur. night a bunch of us got together and went out for dinner at a close by Mexican restaurant. It was awesome to sit back and chat with everyone! A lot of the dogs from the northwest were doing quite well and making cuts or winning their very large classes. Lots of reason to celebrate! This was also the first real meal that I was able to eat all week without feeling sick afterwards!!
Fri. was the best of breed judging day. Again, it was very exciting to see all these fabulous danes out there!! Fri. was also the first day since we arrived that I felt normal all throughout the day. Talk about just in time! After the judging was over, there was an awards dinner that many people were going to. I had already chosen not to buy tickets for it and use the time to start packing up my stuff and getting the truck ready for an early departure Sat. morning.
Then Sat. morning we checked out of the lovely resort and were on our first leg of the trip home! We ended up taking a different route home because most of the way that we had taken getting there, now had snow on the ground and there were areas with winter storm warnings that we wanted to avoid. I would like to say that the first part of our trip was smooth sailing, but we had some bumps along the way where we got a little lost and there was some turning around in some not so great neighborhoods. We decided to really push it that first day and make it to Sacramento by that night. It made for a long day, but it was totally worth it.
By that point, I realized that the drive home was basically the drive that I made from Lodi for the northern California specialty. Georgia wanted to watch her speed more since she drives a rather eye catching giant red van. I followed her for a while, but then I decided that I really wanted to push it and try to make some good time and get home with a little time to spare. Everything worked out well. It was lightly snowing through the pass, but the roads were nice and clear and we didn't have any issues. I made one stop that included refueling, grabbing "lunch" from the convenience store, and taking the dogs for a nice long potty walk, and then we were in it for the long haul home! It felt sooooooooooooooo good to make it home while it was still light out!!
And that, thankfully, brings us up to today. I technically still have today and tomorrow off from work for vacation time. I'll be going in tomorrow afternoon because I already know I'm going to have some long days ahead of me and it's going to easily take me through Fri. to get fully caught up. I've used the majority of today to go through the unpacking and laundry process. I took a break and took the danes out for a hike that we all needed. After two weeks of being stuck on leash or in a hotel room, they really needed to stretch their legs. And I needed to get out in the woods and soak up the wonderful area that we live in that I now appreciate so much more!!
There will be more to come about our trip, including some pictures and video, but I think this post is long enough at this point!! I hope that everyone is doing well and I look forward to getting back to making the rounds reading other blogs and getting back into a rhythm of keeping up my own blog.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand............................48 days until Christmas!!!!