a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Assorted Notes from Nationals Final Thoughts

Friday, November 09, 2007

Assorted Notes from Nationals Final Thoughts

SUMMARY: More assorted notes and thoughts.

"Free" handouts at check-in: T-shirt (nice, with 20th-anniversary info on back). Some sort of wallet or card holder thingie with the USDAA logo--I guess I'll donate that to my club's raffle. A round white plastic thingie with the USDAA logo, not sure what it's supposed to be, maybe a zipper pull? The usual nice keepsake pin. And--that's it.

Some final thoughts and memories:
  • Slim pickings at check-in (see photo):I realize that my entry fees pay for this stuff, but they couldn't find any vendors who wanted to donate or sponsor or even co-sponser check-in goodies? This is the World Championships, fer pete's sake. But maybe I'm spoiled; we don't usually give any check-in goodies at Bay Team trials any more. Hmmm, I wonder what they got in Norway at the other World Championships?
  • Vendors: OK, I'll admit that I mostly avoided the vendors this year to help my budget. But I always shop at Clean Run, and they weren't there. Neither was the vendor of the heavy-duty carts to whom I referred some people. Neither was the guy with the PVC dog beds for which I need replacement mats. In fact--the whole vendor area seemed extremely sparse. Are vendors not selling anything here and they've given up? Or did Westworld kill 'em (like Twin Creeks stupidly mostly did to Bay Team vendors)? Or did USDAA? That's always been one thing worth attending the nationals for--the shopping opportunities you don't get elsewhere. But not so much this year. Pity. One less reason to go.
  • Organization: Seemed to me that things went much more smoothly overall this year than in some past years. There were plenty of course maps, unlike in previous years. I still like the large computer displays with results, but they weren't showing all results (e.g., team standings), and although the binders were good for keeping the results organized, it was hard to stay up to date with 600 people all trying to read one page at a time of 30 pages of results. Overall, communication seemed to be better, things seemed to start on time, and I didn't see any major glitches with anything. A reason TO go.
  • Herding: For the second year, I took Boost for a 10-minute herding instinct test with three cooperative goats. Again, she seemed to do very well. But what do I know? The lady recommended a trainer in Vacaville (if someone in Arizona knows about someone in Vacaville, that speaks well), although I have no interest in driving 2 hours each way and paying a ton of $ to stand around while my dog gets all the fun. Still, my teammate noted that the border collie group with which she's associated is hosting an instinct test with real sheepies PLUS introductory lecture this weekend from the very lady recommended. In Vacaville. So I signed both dogs up; might as well give Tika one more go at it, since she flunked last year. It is scary signing the disclaimer about paying for damaged or destroyed livestock, but I think Tika's too much of a wuss and would be easily deterred if she seemed inclined to grab.
  • That lost purple riot tug After last year, when I lost two purple riot tugs and found only one, I was VERY careful with mine this year. But, lo, it vanished anyway. This year I got lucky; I checked lost and found one last time before leaving, and there it was. Whew! (I've put labels on 'em, but with all the dog activity, they don't stay.)
  • Getting whistled off: I thought that everyone was leaving the course after they Eed because they wanted to. Much to my surprise, when Tika Eed halfway through the Grand Prix quarterfinal and I kept going, the judge insisted that I leave. Someone told me later that, yes, that was in the rules somewhere (buried in 12 pages of fine print in the premium or elsewhere). Can you imagine driving 12 hours, paying $900 overall for your week at Scottsdale, and not being allowed to finish your run? At least we had 6 classes over the 5 days, not just one. And I realize that the days would've been much longer if they weren't whistling people off. But, jeez... it just doesn't seem right. (I finished the course anyway, saying "oh, sorry," or something like that, since I need to keep Tika moving or we'd be standing in the middle of the ring with her mouth attached permanently to my shoes.)
  • Reserved seating in the bleachers: Every year the premium says (I'm going to have to brush up on my fine-print memorization) that you're not supposed to reserve seating in the bleachers. Every year, people do it. So we do, too, because otherwise latecomers find no seats, or none near friends and teammates. The "out" is that it says that if the personal belongings are "unattended for any length of time" they can be cleared. So we counted how many people we had, amassed most of us at the bleachers with seat-saving towels, and arranged a schedule whereby we all took turns sitting in the bleachers attending our seats. Which is more than most people did--there were plenty of unattended belongings. There were things going on in the ring all day, and with more than one of us there, we had people to talk to, so it wasn't bad duty, and this still allowed folks to get meals, attend to their dogs, run their final runs, and so on, without getting shut out of the seating. It's not a perfect system. But I love sitting with all my friends and sharing information about the people who are running (or not). A big reason to go!
  • Attendance at the big events: I said "find no seats," but this year the bleachers never filled for any of the final events. This is the first year that I haven't noticed it being standing-room-only, at least for the Steeplechase and Grand Prix finals. Are people getting jaded? Funny. Maybe it IS time for them to move to a different part of the country so people again appreciate the opportunity to watch.
  • I can't say often enough how much I enjoyed watching all the final events. The full-crowd participation adds a lot, too; everyone is rooting for everyone to do well. I love it. And it provides inspiration for what to work on for next year to enable YOU YOURSELF to appear in the finals, you're SURE of it.
  • OK, I think that's almost all I have to say about this year. See you next year, with BOTH dogs! I'm SURE of it!


  1. I still haven't been to the Nationals, partly because I didn't feel my dog or I was ready but also because it seemed like there were more reasons not to go than to go.
    And this year I hear the heat was worse than ever. I'm just not going to want to ask my 10 yer old dog to run in that kind of heat. And I hear there's not much room to potty your dog or play with them.
    And can you imagine *flying* you and your dog(s) out there and not getting to finish your run??
    It's definitely time for an East Coast Nationals but I really doubt it's going to happen.

  2. Thanks for all the info - really interesting for those who have attended - YET!

  3. Heat--well, a matter of perspective, I guess. It was in the mid-80s, maybe low 90s one day, but still coolish in the shade, so if you avoided being in the direct sun for long periods, it wasn't bad. I've done tons of trials in this temp range and higher, where it *wasn't* cool in the shade. And I also use the Ellen-shorts-o-meter: I switched to shorts for 4-6 hours each day, which means it was pretty warm, but back to jeans in morning and late afternoon, which means it was plenty comfortable.

    Space--I had no problem playing frisbee with my dogs in the areas by the crating tents. Sometimes there were more dogs playing so room was more limited, but for there being 1000 dogs or more there, the spaces were surprisingly uncrowded most of the time.

    Not finishing your run--(read this as: "excruciatingly mixed feelings") Yeah, I complain about that. On the other hand, one might argue that it's not worth making the huge effort of a long trip for just one class, that it's a better deal if you've at least qualified in team. Although at least one local guy had byes into the semis for GP and Steeplechase and didn't Q in team, so was guaranteed of only 2 runs, and then he made it into the finals, so maybe it was worth the trip after all. Also, any local or regional trial has the right to impose fault limits, too, and sometimes do. Plus at the nationals one might argue that continuing after an E is more or less training in the ring and we're all experienced, qualified, top-level dogs. On the fourth hand--with only 1 or 2 runs a day, it sucks to have gone all that way and not be able to complete it. I think of the folks who managed 0-point snooker runs, though, which is always a whistle-off anyway... Ha! OK, there's all the mixed feelings for today! ;-)