Momma and I have just competed in our first agility trials. The Canine Performance Event we attended was sponsored by South Paws K9 Academy and held last weekend at On the Run Canine Center in Ham Lake, Minnesota.
We drove up to On the Run on Saturday to check out the location (Momma was nervous about finding the place, road closings, potential riots along the way, fog, traffic accidents, parking, setup, food, the people — everything really). Amazingly, against all odds, we “arrived at our destination” in one piece with time to spare.
Since we were early, we got good parking and set up my crate and Momma’s chair in a large room next to the arena. We also got me measured by the judge(!). I am officially 11.5 inches to the withers (shoulders), which confirmed that I would jump at 8 inches.
Even though I didn’t compete on Saturday, we hung out and Momma watched the trials just to “get the lay of the land” as she puts it. She’s such a farm girl. We also met many nice humans and dogs! In the evening, the organizers emailed course maps out for the next day. These left Momma a little unsettled, but our trainer, Annelise, talked her down from the ledge with some thoughts and tips.
Sunday we were up at 4:30a and motored back to Ham Lake — Momma was still a little worried about getting us there (just in case On the Run Canine Center had relocated since Saturday for example). We visited with others again and received our daily briefing from the organizers and the judge. Momma was especially happy when our friend, B.J. Bowden, showed up with her dog, Lacey Blue. B.J. helped Momma learn the ropes and checked us in with the starters (thankfully, because Momma wasn’t aware of that little detail). Whoops.
The first event of the day was called Wildcard and we were the last competitors out of seventy-one entrants. Finally, the timekeeper got to us and announced: “Lina, to the line!” It would have had such a nice ring to it, except that they called me Lena! (Momma kept mum pursuant to Annelise’s instructions.)
Anyway, we were both a little nervous, but strode forward to the jump at the beginning of the course. The arena was quiet and all eyes were on us. Most of the spectators knew it was my first competitive run ever. I could just tell they were curious to see what the little beginner would do.
Momma carefully took off my leash and halter, tossed them aside, and told me to sit and stay in position ready for the run. Unfortunately, at this point I couldn’t help but take a little trot over to the judge to say hello — it’s just what I do. And, frankly, I thought a little buttering up wouldn’t hurt. Luckily my little side trip didn’t disqualify us as the run hadn’t yet started. There was still hope!
Momma, her heart close to stopping, urgently called me back to the starting line. After she positioned me again and did a little lead out, she firmly commanded “Lina, jump!” and off we went! I hesitated only momentarily, and then it was off to the races.
I did all ten obstacles successfully, including a difficult tunnel entrance, and put on a little extra speed for the last couple of jumps as I got caught up in the excitement. After the last jump, the spectators erupted in clapping and cheers, and Momma threw up her hands in the air like we had just won at Westminster! That aside, it really was a moment.
Later, our new friend, Chris Mosley, showed Momma the Wildcard results which were posted on the wall. Momma was thrilled to see that we had earned a Q (a qualifying score to those of us in the agility world) and second place. Okay there were only two of us in our class, but still. Here we are with our ribbons in one of our proudest moments ever!
Our next event was called Jumpers, and although our run was not quite as clean, I successfully completed all the obstacles and earned another Q! (We also technically earned a first place finish even though we were the only participants in our class.) See below!
Much later, our next event, Jackpot, got underway. It was quite tricky, if I do woof so myself, and unfortunately we did not qualify. Momma was a little down after that, but tried not to show it. I rewarded her with a face lick as she carried me out of the ring.
After that, our day was over, so we headed home and started dreaming about next time.
Lina, Decorated Dog!