Many jumps, many dogs, many miles. On Saturday, September 13, we went to the Agility Club of New Hampshire (ACNH) annual picnic. There was a lot of fun stuff to do – massages for people and dogs, chiropractic for dogs, a bunch of equipment set up in the ring with two possible ways to run the obstacles (easier and harder), the nice twins who are dog groomers were there giving trims and there was a lovely lunch before our annual club meeting. And of course, lots of familiar faces, human and canine. Many of our classmates, and a number people we see at trials were there. No pressure, but a trial-ish atmosphere in a place we trial. Chico has been unwilling to stay by himself at the start line ever since that terrier came charging out of the ring and sniffed him, back in July. So we tried starting at jump number two. He could wait there. So we did a few jumps, then went back and he could wait at jump number one. And we went to the weave poles, and he did them slowly, so we had some cookies and went back through them, and had some more, and ran out of the ring and had some more. Eventually we worked up to doing the whole course.
Lunch was delicious, there were leftovers galore and plastic bags which we were encouraged to use to pack some up and take ’em along. Yay, lunch for tomorrow’s trial!
It was an hour’s drive to the nice Red Roof Inn Southborough/Worcster, where I had reserved us a room, and then another forty-five minutes to the USDAA trial in North Smithfield.
Despite my best efforts, I got us to the trial just in time for me to step into the ring about three sentences into the briefing for our first class, which was also the first class of the day. No time to look at a map, just walk, make a plan, go get the dog, let him sniff and do any business he has, go in and get ready to run. It didn’t work very well. Chico was wild, disconnected dog in the ring. Lisa Barrett was judging, and she’s so nice, when I had to gather us and go back to the weaves, she gave us a big, reassuring smile. We did get those weaves, and the following obstacle – pause table – and then we ran out of the ring for cookies.
Our Gamblers run was not a whole lot better, but by the time we got to Jumpers, things went really well. There was one place where I mis-cued Chico and he missed a jump, so no Q, but it was so much the best run of the day, I took our ribbon anyhow.
And I got a compliment from someone I respect. I was gating* and Lisa Barrett turned to me at one moment and said, “You’re a good Gate.” I was over the moon for at least an hour. My loud voice got me in plenty of trouble in my life, and to have it be useful, and to have that be noticed by someone I respect…it was awfully darned neat.
After we finished our runs for the day, we took a walk to the nearby pond, Chico had a dip, I spent a few minutes watching a Great Blue Heron stalk fish, and we went back to check on the worker raffle, where I won a cool twenty-five bucks in cash. Nice. Pays for the gas to get home. Which is what we did – we went home.
*The Gate Steward, or Gate, sort of runs the ring during each class. She announces jump heigh changes to the judge and ring crew, calls out the upcoming dogs so competitors know when their turn is coming, tells people when to go into the ring, calls out the name of the dog so the Scribe can make sure the score is written on the correct sheet. And it is a job where having a voice that carries to the rafters is an asset.