15 October 2012

A detailed blow by blow account of Team Small Dog's Relaxing Spa Weekend in Dixon at the October Hautedawgs USDAA trial.

This last weekend, we went up to Dixon for a USDAA trial. Dixon, the town made famous by David Lowery lyrics on the song "Sweethearts" from Camper Van Beethoven's 1989 album, Key Lime Pie. Their most lucrative and accessible album plummeted the band to it's demise and subsequent breakup which lasted through the millenium until they all made up and started playing again except by then looking way older. Also known for some hay farms, tract houses, and diners. Not to be confused with the Nut Tree.

Competing for 2 days in a row is not the norm for me and my dogs. We are used to getting up early, driving or sleeping in the car depending on who you are, doing a bunch of runs, then driving all the way back home. We compete multiple days at shows that are nearby, but being someone who works a lot and on Saturdays, that's about it. People always look at me funny when I'm at a dog show on a Saturday.

I got a lot of funny looks. Sometimes I feel like I'm not a real dog show person, always showing up late for the party, after they've handed out the goody bags and missing the part where someone took off their clothes and was dancing naked on the bar. No second chances for me the second day. Lately I've been feeling like I've been doing this a long time, and I want to try the whole weekend thing. Maybe it will help Gustavo settle in, and maybe I want to see what it's like, having a whole weekend of dog show like everybody else. I couldn't afford to enter every class, nor did I really want to, but we did take a day off and spring for a motel. We even upgraded to a whole new category of motel known as Best Western. I had no idea.

The good things that happened this weekend included Otterpop randomly busting out her fast running startlines in 3 of her 4 runs and getting a gamble with many opening points. Gustavo knocking out yet another perfect table, a stunning jumpers run, and a beautiful run with one exception in Grand Prix.

The not so good? Otterpop didn't get the first day's gamble, a left-tunnel off the dogwalk with an off course jump right in front of her nose. That was hard. Dogwalk, gamble and a left-tunnel with a running contact a distance skill we hadn't yet considered. Otterpop also had her dogwalk called in standard, and her second day's standard was that old slow, creepy start until she made it to her friend weavepoles.

Gustavo's old nemesis Scary Teeter of Death re-emerged at this show. His teeter eroded over the 2 days, ending in a spectacular bailout in Grand Prix on Sunday. Something loud and rattly about the teeter there didn't feel nice to Gustavo brought up unpleasant PTSD memories.

His dogwalk got called in Standard. Then I went off course on his amazing jumpers run. Because I walked the wrong course. GodDAMN. In Steeplechase, the siren song of one of his lady papillon friends playing just outside the ring was too much and my valiant efforts to keep his attention resulted in an off course tunnel. And then in Snooker, he made his own valiant effort to flat out run behind me and into a very off course tunnel on my very excellent snooker plan. Tweet went the whistle. That was pretty naughty, actually.

So, generally, they ran fine. Some parts, they ran great. But issues popped up their sneaky, chisel toothed heads. Training issues and handling issues both. Our runs were never the fastest or the slowest, never had the most points or the fewest. Just smack in the middle every time. Not where you want to be when you're trying to be the best.

Theoretically, making it to the middle is an improvement for Gustavo, since in the meltdown, hallucinatory days of Gustavo 2.0, he bombed spectacularly with gusto and flair and insane vortex monstrosities. So an off course tunnel or messed up teeter is pretty mild compared to that.

The important thing is having a good time, not winning. But running good enough to be the best, not making errors, going the fastest and having the most solid skills, is very, very fun. Truly winning runs feel the most fun. Gustavo's jumpers with the off course felt that way, as did his Grand Prix minus teeter PTSD. Otterpop's gamblers run did. Very fast, very accurate, very together as a team. There were these little champion bursts, for just a couple of moments. Feeling good, walking out of the ring.

So then, why, after checking the score, or knowing that there was an error in there before even checking it to find someone ran a little faster or had a little better plan to get some more points, does it feel a little bit crummy to be the mediocre one? We tried real hard, but not quite enough. I guess that's the pointy little hook, the little edge that keeps us training to get better and coming back to try again, so that next time, maybe we're the best.


Elf said...


Agility Foot said...

Laura, You deserve so much more than Motel 6. Glad you came over to the clean carpet side of agility!

Jodi,eh? said...

You are the best at agility blogger, does that count?