Thursday, July 18, 2013

On Good Days...


...even the clouds are beautiful! 

This photo was taken during my drive home from agility practice on Tuesday.  The clouds had silver linings, and my heart felt full of happiness.  Good days are just darn nice!  Riff was great at practice.  Although I made plenty of mistakes, it didn't bother me.  I'll always have room for improvement, and on good days that seems like a good thing.  What better way is there to learn?  

This feeling of joy started as a little seedling at the July 4th Bay Team USDAA trial in Prunedale.  I was a goofy mess, getting ready for that show.  For two days, as I checked my camping supply lists and readied the van, my thoughts circled around the vortex-phrase "I don't want to go.  I don't want to go.  I don't want to go."  The local weather was wickedly hot.  My back hurt, my knees hurt, I didn't want to drive that far by myself, and the friends I'd planned on meeting weren't able to go.

The deck seemed stacked against having fun.  My husband said, more than once:  "You know you don't have to go if you don't want to."  Riff and I were getting along great at the practice field, and our last trial (at the end of May) went well...but I was stuck on the idea that trialing is strictly for the Handler, rather than the Dog, and that trials are too risky.

Still.....I wanted to share the joy Riff and I have had recently at the practice field.  So I decided to throw away all the negative thoughts I had about Prunedale, and Just Go.  Call it an adventure.  Prove to myself that I CAN drive south for three-to-four hours, and then set up camp and stay in my van for three good nights.   

The weather in Prunedale was great (coooool).  Lots of slow traffic on the drive down, but I had mix CDs from my oldest son, so sang my way through the boring bits.  (Which I could never do if I was with anyone else, since my singing

The lovely Camping Czar gave us a terrific spot near the Starters/Advanced ring.  Set-up was easy (I'd already arranged my cot, Riff's big bed, and the ice chest in the van).  I used a photography drop-cloth stand to hold my shade up.  Thank god I remembered to bring clips this time.  I had screens for all my windows, and plenty of air circulation in the van.  The camping part was quite nice, as it ended out.  The trial was on the small side, and everyone was friendly.  My cot was comfortable for reading.  (Honestly, I'm happy just about anywhere, if I have a good book to read.)  There were good trails for dog walks, and a nice exercise field.  A great neighbor shared some "aged grape juice," and the Czar invited me to dinner in her RV.  Sweet.  Even though we had a couple of nights of fireworks noise from the valley, Riff and I slept pretty well. 

My goal was to be proud of my dog as we went to the start-line, because just getting to the USDAA Advanced class start-line is a terrific accomplishment in-and-of-itself.  Out of ten classes, I reached my goal ten times.

I was determined to FOCUS on each obstacle during my walk-thrus and runs.  I still got lost in one class.  And in another I had a twitchy mental moment during my lead-out.  Riff pushed off early, dropped the first bar, then leaped the A-frame down contact.  Oops.  Done.  (Breeeeathe.....)  But it really does help to stay focused!  I was also determined to help Riff as much as he needed at each and every obstacle.  Treat him like a baby dog.  He's not a baby anymore, at 4.5 years old...but he's had very little trialing experience.  It worked. 

Riff enjoyed seven qualifying runs out of ten classes.  He won four firsts, two seconds and a third.  Wowsers!  He was even well-behaved when we ran Advanced Pairs with Liza and Monty.  Niiiice.  Riff won his Advanced Agility Dog title and now qualifies for all Masters classes. 

Good boy!!

At the Prunedale exercise field

Are we going to the SMART trial this weekend?  Nope.  We're leaving the following Wednesday to visit family in the San Diego area, and that's enough traveling for the four of us this month. Jeff made reservations at a couple of dog-friendly places near the beach.  Yippee!  We get to stay in motels!  Swanky. 

I think the next USDAA option for Riff might be the Regionals, in Prunedale over the Labor Day weekend.  But...that's a big five-ring circus.  Are we ready to tackle Regionals as our first trial at the Masters level?  Argh!  Maybe not.  Oh, well.  Doesn't matter.  It's still a good day.  Yay!

Ever onward....

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