Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday at the Invitational

Oh, I forgot to tell this story from Saturday night. Travis is used to running laps everyday with his bumper (orange, plastic, float toy for retrievers). If you stick a bumper in his mouth and set him free, he will run laps for several minutes and then fetch the bumper until I tell him "that's enough". In Long Beach there wasn't anywhere for him to run except for in agility and each course lasts only 30-45 seconds. So Travis had not seen his bumper for a few days now. In front of the convention center there was a nice square of grass between the convention center and the fountains. Anne and I would often take Travis and Kira to this patch each night to go potty. Travis and Kira were doing their business off leash when all of a sudden Travis went crazy running as fast as he could. He tends to do very big loops (much bigger than this patch of grass), so when he hit the concrete I shrieked and yelled at him and he stopped dead in his tracks and came back to the grass. Last thing he needs is a broken nail. So he proceeded to do wheelie after wheelie on this small square of grass. I'd never seen him run like that before. Kira wasn't sure whether to join in with the psychotic greyhound or not. After a few minutes of tight circles, he was out of breath and had slightly less energy.

Sunday morning we were set to run early (around 7 AM). doG (Travis) forbid we actually wake up to an alarm.

We were back in Ring 2 (pic down on right) to run Standard. In fact, 24" dogs were shoved off into Ring 2 for three of the four runs. This ring was surrounded by gating and was usually surrounded by people standing shoulder to shoulder all the way around except for the one side that had bleachers. Ring 1 (pic on left) had an announcer who read remarks each person had written about their dog which was really neat. Each side had bleachers, so you didn't have a wall of people standing ringside and the ring gating was covered with blue cloth so it had a solid appearance. In other words, Ring 1 was much easier to stay focused in. Regardless of how great Ring 1 was, we were running in Ring 2.

Generally, my biggest concern with Standard is that sometimes Travis misses the yellow contact zone on the upside of the dog walk. Its very easy for a big-strided dog to just stride right over and miss it completely. I don't do anything fancy. I just try to make sure we aren't running full tilt when we come to this obstacle. This was obstacle #2, so he easily got the contact. The rest of the course ran perfectly including weave poles and we finally qualified. I believe we placed around 8th out of 80-90 dogs, so I was really pleased with that.

Around noon, we were scheduled to run Jumpers........again in Ring 2. Again he missed his weave pole entrance. It was a fairly straight entrance, but oh well......... I did not like how I ran this course at all. I did most of my crosses from behind which created big loopy turns and had me standing there waiting for him to run past me so I could cross behind. It worked fine and that section of the course was clean.... but not pretty.

So that is the end of Travis' invitational story. Yes, it was an honor to be there, but I was disappointed in our performance. You can't win them all though. I'm so glad the trip doubled as a good chance to catch up with my best friend, Anna and I always enjoy traveling with Anne. Speaking of Anne........ Anne and Kira ran clean all 4 times and did go to the finals! It was so exciting. Her cumulative score placed her at 4th (totally awesome!!!) and she placed 8th in the finals. Unfortunately, she got in a hurry and missed the A-frame contact.

The finals were held in Ring 1 and since Animal Planet films the finals, the ring was transformed into a movie set. The lighting was intense..... very very bright. Plants were added as decorations. Camera people were stationed inside of the ring and spooked a couple of the dogs. They were literally in the competitors' faces as they finished up their runs. It was hilarious when a huge Great Dane named Bojangles ran. His handler walked into the ring and motioned for that camera man to "BACK, BACK, BACK". This big boy needs lots of runway space. Bojangles also had the biggest soft sided crate I have ever seen!!!!! That is a tall man's shoulder sitting next to it.
As we were packing up, we posed Travis with one of his former victims, Kelsi the sheltie. Kelsi was just a pup when she was strung up in the air with Travis attached to her tail and her head attached to a leash clutched by her mom, Deanna Gamel. Like all of Travis' victims, she was unharmed. I don't believe she knew what hit her and she has gone on to be one heck of an agility dog. In fact, she has competed for the U.S. World Team twice. They both have come so far.

Some of the other funny things you find at shows..... the men folk are bonding during a break in this photo. They are masters at carrying crates, bags, luggage, etc. and driving their agility ladies and pooches to and from hotels, venues, and airports. The funny thing is that they are all on small dog teams...... miniature poodle, sheltie, and chihuahua. I'm thinking "why do they need a man to carry miniature crates, miniature beds, and miniature dogs :-). I'm just glad that my Stephen was home to take good care of Katie and to make sure she continues her important rehab. Thanks, Stephen.

Steve Solomon of Team Teresa and Maggie the Chihuahua can literally sleep anywhere!

Did you know you could drink at dog shows? I didn't. I'd never seen a dog show bar before.
And this dog is suppose to be a Chow Chow (lower right). The AKC will allow unregistered dogs to obtain Indefinite Listing Privileges (ILPs or It Looks Purebred) to dogs that appear to be purebred. For example, Katie and Travis have ILPs since they are NGA GHs and not AKC registered. Its great because if someone adopts a purebred dog from an animal shelter, they can still participate in events. However, its kind of disappointing when AKC approves dogs that are obviously mixed bred. Training a dog such as a Chow is not an easy feat and its kind of sad when someone with a mixed breed gets credit for training a difficult breed of dog when it probably has something very trainable such as a golden retriever mixed in. Cute dog, but definitely not a Chow. Unfortunately, there were several dogs like this one.

After the finals, Anna, Anne, and I went to Islands for some dinner. We shared some spinach dip, fries, milk shakes, and I also had a veggie burger. Walking back to the hotel, my stomach started to not feel so good. Anne and Anna were fine, so I figured that the veggie burger was not agreeing with me.

Anne and I had purchased a bronze boxer statue for Anna as a thank you, so I checked the gift shop for a thank you card to go along with it.......... no luck, they cost $7..... a little too steep for me. But I did find a Dr. Pepper, the first I'd found in days, so I was a happy camper............ but still not feeling so good. I finally went to bed hoping that I'd be feeling well by morning.