Courses throughout the weekend looked challenging but doable. Mostly they were handler heavy with multiple options depending on where your dog was or where you were.
What I could never have accounted for was that Vegas would be a bit clingy and less independent on some obstacles. Or perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my signals. Either way, our first "issue" was after the a-frame (Hooray - she nailed the a-frame beautifully!) at #8. I thought I sent her and went to move off toward #9. She pulled off #8 causing a refusal. I corrected her without an off course and moved to #9 and 10. We seemed to be back on track and then she missed #12 and I had to correct. She seemed to want to come between the jumps. Our next issue was at #16. I think I trusted her again to take the jump and she peeled off again with me and that made our third refusal. All for all for a first run, we completed every obstacle, had no off courses, but accrued three refusals. We were within time though, so that was good as well. I went into this run with the mantra that we were running just like we do at home. I couldn't let myself be any more mentally psyched up than seemed to be inevitable so I decided I had to run "just like always" and figure that was what had gotten us there anyway. Going into the run with my head in that place was a lot better. Prior to making that decision I had butterflies like nobody's business and I knew that would transfer to Vegas, too, which was no good. With my head in the game, I laughed off the things that happened, called Vegas a "silly girl," and knew there wasn't really any way I could have known she would need me to stick closer. A lesson learned and one I was prepared for with Round 2.
We had lots of time between round 1 and 2. In light of Vegas' normal reaction to being crated, I figured I would just keep her with me walking around, watching, etc. We wandered through the meet the breeds booths, watched the "Eukanuba Incredible Superdogs" show, talked with people, and tried to watch friends' runs. Of course I took a TON of pictures.
A woman had just finished paying for her ice cream when she observed this interaction. She heard/saw me decline to purchase anything and pulled out her wallet. She told the sales person shes would purchase it and to give the ice cream to Vegas. I tried to decline but she wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So Vegas had an unexpected and benevolent friend. She enjoyed her treat thoroughly.
Our Round 2 course was JWW designed by Terri Campbell and judged by Mike Lappin. First thing to note, of course, as those who follow my blog know, was the single tunnel on course. Yay for that even though it was a 20'. In watching the other classes, the area to hang up dogs and handlers the most was the 180s at 9 to 10 and and then not hitting an off course to 14 or the wrong end of the tunnel plus the 180 of 13-14. It was a tight course no matter how you looked at it and very much required the handler to be on his or her toes. Definitely no time to relax and just run your dog. You had to be ready for adjustment at any moment should he or she land just outside of what you expected or not look at you and read a queue like you're used to. The wrap at 15-16 was not great either as some dogs saw the off course tunnel and went for it, and it just slowed the ending versus allowing a nice home run stretch. This wasn't the kind of course I had seen from Terri Campbell in the past so I was a little disappointed.
My plan was to work from the right with a front cross after #3. I knew I could pull her back to the weaves. Another big issue other dogs had was going off course after #7 since there was quite a bit of distance and they were moving out ahead of their handlers. Naturally they turn back toward their handler and, "Oops!," take 13 or 14 or.... So my goal was to move out off the end of the weaves far enough to make a front cross that drew a long straight line down through 8. She still picked up enough speed that I had to throw an off side arm to side her out to 8, though, but thankfully I was prepared.
I had a concern after the 180 about sending her into the tunnel with my left arm and rear-crossing. Sometimes she seems prone to back out, particularly since the issue with the chute. Worst case scenario I figured I would run the outside of the tunnel. Fortunately she handled it fine. Keri reviewed the course map with me and suggested pushing out at the tunnel exit to shape the #12 and begin her turn. This was very wise because many, many dogs landed perpendicular to the jump then had a hard turn back to #13 and or they hit the #8 jump as an off course. In that regard, 12-14 was really more of a serpentine which we totally have down! I had intended to turn her to the outside after the #15 wrap to go from 16 to 17. Unfortunately, as the video shows, she didn't see my queue so my timing was clearly off. We had knocked the second jump bar anyway, but whew, there was some adrenaline pumping action at the end.... See for yourself.
All in all, we moved up in ranking plus our overall faults were lower. And she wasn't needing me to stick so close and was running like I was used to. So things were looking up.
So that was that for Saturday. We did some more visiting, watching, and wandering, and finally headed back to the hotel around 6:30. Val and I ordered pizza on the way and Keri met us in my room where we chatted and had dinner. After they left I took Vegas out on another potty walk for the night. I brought my camera again in hopes of getting a better picture in front of the nutcracker....
Recall I said I had a breakdown worrying about something being wrong with Vegas when she knocked a bar? Turns out there was. She pooped three times during the day, once she almost did so inside the building which is completely unheard of. Something was certainly off and all I could figure is that it was her traveling food. I mentioned some time back about buying a dehydrated raw, NRG. We've used it quite a few times before for a weekend trip out of town, etc. I had opened two of the three boxes I bought, one of which had grain, one which did not. No issues other than softer stool and more of it. Well, at the third time of the day I was stressing. It was a lot to go. And she wasn't drinking a lot while some of her excrement was quite loose bordering on diarrhea. She went again when I took her out before bedtime; that made the fourth time of the day.
She was fairly wiped out about 10:30 pm or so; I went lights out about 11:00 pm. She woke me up before 2 am to potty. Guess what? She pooped again. Wow. Five times in one day. This NRG stuff was not working for us - at least not on this trip. I don't know if it was just sensitivity, if it is the grain - which she is completely unaccustomed to - or if it was the travel, too. Poor girl. But thank Dog she woke me up to go and was able to hold it until we got down from the 15th floor, out the lobby, and into grass. Whew!
So I made the difficult decision to fast her on Sunday morning. I'd already given her a really good massage and stretched her. I couldn't do much else and the cause of everything seemed to be food and gut related. If her tummy was processing food that often throughout the day, no wonder she couldn't extend for the triple and we were having troubles. As I fell back asleep for a wake-up alarm to come in just four hours, all I could think was how I was going to make it through the morning getting ready when she wasn't going to get food.....