a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Various Thoughts Around Nationals

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Various Thoughts Around Nationals

SUMMARY: The brain's in overdrive.

I've been thinking about Nationals a lot. A lot.

The only one of my dogs who has ever made the Grand Prix semifinal round is Jake. That was our second year at the Nationals near San Diego. They announced that 50% of the dogs would move up to the semis, and then they posted the list (something like 200 dogs in our 22" height class), and Jake had missed by just a couple of dogs, along with our friend Eric's JJ. Being obsessive-compulsive about things like this, I actually counted--and discovered that they had miscounted by about 4 dogs and Jake and JJ should actually be in the semis. I reported it quickly so that we got a chance to get our walk throughs and actually run. I believe we were offcourse right away, but at least we got there. A couple of years later, JJ went on to win (or 2nd place?) in the Veterans Grand Prix national championship--veteran being dogs who had previously made it to at least the Semifinals in previous years. So Eric was pretty happy on both occasions.

And I just got news that JJ is coming home from the hospital and appears to be doing better--I created a blog just for his status here: http://jjstatus.blogspot.com/.

I think Tika's my best agility dog so far. (Boost has much promise, but we're not there yet.) She has missed the GP semifinals three times by 4 or fewer dogs, and there were no miscounts on these occasions. Driving me nuts. But whereas Jake was at the edge because his speed just was never up to the top level, Tika has missed because of assorted 5-point faults...but if she had been, say, 1 second faster even with the faults, in each case I *think* she'd have gone on to the semis. But I have to really drive her to get her best speed.

And my knee is not going to be up to driving my dog on any course.

That will be even more of a pity in Steeplechase. Even though I drove her hard the last couple of years, on speed alone we missed the finals by at least a second or maybe even 2, and with the competition at the level it is, that was probably 10 to 20 dogs faster. BUT we ALSO had 5-fault knocked bars each year, too, putting us way down in the list. So the odds of us making the finals in Steeplechase were very slim to start with, but if I can't push-push-push my dog before going into the ring and all the way through the run, we haven't even a slug's chance in the Indy.

It just breaks my heart, she's running so well, I've worked so hard, I've spent so much on entry fees and trying to qualify for the Nationals, training fairly hard at home on the things we need more speed on AND trying to fix the knocked bar problem, and I just won't be able to capitalize on any of it this year.

Not to MENTION the tremendous angst and grief and huge expense of trying to qualify in the Team event and finally, FINALLY making it-- not that our team would ever have made it to the final round (Brenn and Tika are fast but not the most fault-free dogs; Skeeter is remarkably reliably but not fast by any means) because the teams that make the finals are fast AND reliable, all 3 dogs of each-- but, gee, last year Tika placed 8th in team Snooker, our one moment of near-glory, and I was hoping to at least get some personal bests in the various team events.

Maybe it wouldn't seem so bad if it seemed likely that they'd hold the Nationals west coast again next year, but historically they claimed to want to move them around the country every 2-3 years, and this will be the 3rd year in Scottsdale. And I can't afford the time off for a much longer trek plus hotels and so on. This trip is pricey enough.

AND I can't get my entry fees back this year, so I might as well go anyway. Plus it's a kick to see all my friends run and do so well with their dogs. Watching a half-hour video summarizing the final Grand Prix round isn't nearly the same as seeing every detail of all three finals (GP, Steeplechase, and Team) in person. I am looking forward to that, anyway.

And, also on the other hand--my dogs are healthy and happy and good-looking, too. I'm thankful for that. Plus that it looks like the weather will be gorgeous in Scottsdale; just hoping not too hot.

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