Wow, am I glad I went! I am also VERY glad to be back in Perth. Seven LONG days of staying in a tiny caravan (even with *very* good friends, thank you Karen and Simone), with cold, wet weather nearly every day and mud up to our ankles and the dogs knees.. was enough.
It was certainly an experience..what a massive event. Dogs and people everywhere you looked, even in such a big venue (the international sydney equestrienne centre.. apparently there are 2, sorry parents (they spent much time driving around to find us.. ha).
I always get very nervous flying the dogs, and this time I had to cope much more by myself, since Mike stayed home. Luckily they both flew fine (Terra is of course an old hand, but it was Shim's first flight) and Karen and Simone kindly met me at the airport, in the rain, once I had picked up the hire car.
We drove to Erksine park, to spend the night since the grounds were not open, to find they were flooded- yes, literally. Spent the evening working out just how we were going to get 3 people and 3 dogs to sleep in the van (my 2 slept in the car). The next morning we went out to get supplies.. and had a little accident on the way out of the car park.. no I was *not* driving (for once).. the damage on the caravan was small, the damage on the other car.. well.. the driver didn't even notice it initially, and we left a note (which he was very appreciative of!)
Wednesday the competition started, and it was a very busy day for the 3 of us. We were in the outdoor rings, and the nearest carpark was a good 500m walk away. And we did not have any soft crates at this stage (we were leant some later in the week). It was an absolute mission to lug all 5 dogs, 4 hard crates, water and treats for the day, oh and ourselves.. to where we needed to be, and we were all pretty tired before we had even started! Terra started the day well, with a nice clear in masters agility, and very surprisingly, a win. She also went clear in masters jumping but was too slow. Shim had bars down in excellent jumping, and missed the a-frame in agility.
The open classes weren't on until the evenings, in the indoor arena. I skipped OJ when I saw how hard the distance was (and the fact that 500s were running last, and out of the *huge* 500 class Terra was practically last.. this grew very old as it happened every class..).. I think they were still running at 11pm at night!
Thursday was a very quiet day for people with 500 height dogs, and we only had open at night. Happily, Terra made the distance, although she was not coping with the footing very well and was sliding a lot. This put her into the OJ final. She was running fairly quickly, and seemed happy so I was happy too :) Shim had a go at these 2 opens, but just to get her in the arena, I did not do the distance with her. The distance challenges were *much* harder than we are used to in WA, I might add. She coped with the arena atmosphere and footing very well, and was nice and focussed on me, so I was pleased.
Friday and Saturday were 2 more busy days.. Shim quallied into both of her excellent finals with a win in EA and a 2nd in EJ and late Sat night Terra quallied into MJ (even though she was not listed on the finals list initially..)
Sunday dawned FINE (hooray!) and I had 5 finals to run. They started with novice, which proved to be a slow start for WA (gotta love those baby dogs!) Excellent ran 2nd, with agility up first. It was a pretty tricky course, with the 2 things we cannot do at the moment.. a L turn off the DW and a very collected approach to the AF. Funnily enough, we got through them (more or less), but she pulled a bar. Oh well. Onto EJ- a much easier course but boy were those bars coming down! I decided to not push her too much as everyone was taking bars, especially on a hard turn up the back. Shim ran well, focussed and listening, and turned to the best of her ability. At the end of that class we were:
Runner up Excellent Jumping 500 champions!
Yay! Nice effort from the baby dog.
Terra was up next in OJ, and I didn't have any great expectations. The distance was easier than they had been previously, but was still pretty tricky, and there were a lot of fast dogs in the final (open jumping was actually the largest class at the whole of the nationals, and the opens were the only classes that had all the heights competing together. She had to come in the top 10 of 250 dogs to even make the final).
Terra was feeling pretty 'up' as she hit the weavers off the start line at 100 miles an hour. She did the distance challenge beautifully, responding to my frantic 'out, OUT!' like the absolute pro that she is. She had a cracking run, and imagine my surprise and delight to be crowned:
Open Jumping National Champion!
Yes, we did it!! Took out yet another national title.. what a super star of star-ness dog. That makes her 4th consecutive nationals to win a final class, and her 5th national title (6th if you include games, which I don't). She also had a nice run in masters agility to come 2nd by a nose. What an amazing record and an amazing dog. Go the Terra-Bear! What an amazing finish to her nationals career.
(Ink with some of Terra and Shim's prizes)