Wednesday, September 5, 2012

USDAA 2012 Western Regionals

Before we left for Prunedale on Friday morning, I got an email from Karey, the Bay Team secretary, asking me to take a few photos of PEOPLE for her Christmas party slideshow for the club.  Cool.  So I packed my sweet little Canon Powershot  "spy camera," plus my Canon D1 Mark III clunky "big camera," and my favorite zoom lens.   The old Mark III is a heavy camera, especially for someone with a goofy weak arm, so I knew I wouldn't take it out much...but it sure was fun to play photographer for a while!  NOTE: This kind of project is a great way to get through a four-day show when your dog is not entered.  They also asked me to be the announcer for a while (Derede said she had to leave on Monday).  I did a fair amount of pole-setting, too.  End result?  Free lunches...and I didn't get in trouble.

Because...let's face's just plain weird to be at a big dog show like the Western Regionals without showing your dog.  Didn't put Riff in even one single class.  Didn't feel ready to show. 
As a result I felt both restless and regretful, at times...and I could tell Riff was wondering why we weren't going to the startline.  We surely did figure out how to have fun, though....even without competing!  Wahoo! 

Riff and I got to play in the big exercise field while everyone else was walking courses with their rotation groups.  We timed it so that we pretty much had the field to ourselves all weekend.  We played fetch and find-it games, and we worked on post-turns and recalls.  Riff ran and ran.  He was a happy, happy dog....especially when we took to the trails around Manzanita Park.  He was less happy hanging out in the RV...but he sure was cool and comfortable in there.  We also spent some time wandering around the trial rings.  Riff was a way-too-excited-pulling-bugger-monster the first day, but he got better and better at being ringside.  Yay, Riffster!

The best part of the trial, for me, was seeing all my old agility buddies.  You guys ROCK!  xoxo

Also learned a lot just sitting ringside and watching handlers show their dogs.  My goal this weekend (yep, I had a goal even though I wasn't showing) was to watch HANDLERS.  Usually my eyes are so full of DOGS (love the dogs!) that I barely notice what the handlers are doing. 

This time I was careful to watch each handler....their timing, positioning, speed, use of arms, etc...along with the end result of their dog's performance.  And I'm here to tell you - after days of careful research - that mistakes are ALWAYS the fault of the handler.  Which we all already know...yes?  Well this phenomenon is now CONFIRMED.  So when you're feeling frustrated and you're thinking "Shit, my dog isn't jumping for shit today.  He seems sound.  What's wrong with him?"  If your dog has drive and he loves the game....then you need to think about what you're doing.  It could be just a teeny weeny tiny little thing - a tweak of the shoulder, a slight acceleration in speed - but I guarantee you it's there.  In you.  Somewhere.  Yeah.  So now my goal will be to REMEMBER THIS every time I run my dog.  If I start to wonder what's wrong with him....I need to carefully review every motion I made, my attitude, my speed, my focus....everything.    And fix it.

Riff, ready to run "off-leash, please?" down the trail at
Manzanita Park.

Our home away from home.
I had a really good book with me - "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller.
Poor LP caught me crying once when she came back to the RV.
One of the characters in the book had just died.
Ah, well.

I took a couple hundred photos of people (many with their dogs)....about 60 came out okay....and I'll send them on the Karey.  I'll post a few too, some other day. 

Here are a few of my favorite dog-only photos (small versions for the blog):

Mmmm...don't know who this dog is....

This is Bruhaha Jones.  Look at that adorable rascal puppy face!

Bru jumps like a fox, going for his toy.

Fawkes Parkinson

Scoop Gyes

Wit Plummer and her proud handler, Lauri.
Second Place, 2012 Western Regional Performance Speed Jumping Finals.
They had a TERRIFIC run, followed by an EVEN BETTER runoff!

Gazing into the sunset, Riff is thinking..."Maybe she'll enter me next year!"

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