Sunday, March 8, 2009

Guides Canins trial (Complex Sportif de Saint-Lazare)

Walter's prime trialing season is November through March as that's when it's coolest and therefore when Walter most enjoys agility. Unfortunately, that's also when there's the greatest chance of risky driving weather. Well, luck was with us this weekend as the driving weather was good, unlike this time last year.

In the interest of avoiding a 4am wake-up call in complete darkness due to a planned overnight Hydro outage and driving to places unknown in the wee hours of the morning, we made a last-minute decision to drive down Saturday evening. We set up and checked the place out, watched some of the action, then headed over to the Best Motel Ever, otherwise known as Motel Belair. Ok, so the room was tiny, the bathroom narrower than a gnat's closet, and everywhere you look is yet another crudely done handyperson fix-up job, BUT it had everything I like in a motel: a fridge, a microwave, cable tv (what a treat), and a tv with a snooze button. The best part? All of this for $46 plus $5 dog fee! Only catch is, when I checked in the woman asked if I had brought a blanket. I had (as usual, for throwing over the bed). So she said, "Great, so the dog will sleep on the blanket on the floor. I don't want dogs on the bed."


Walter being an obedient pet, sleeping the whole night demurely on the floor. Riiiight.

So, on to the trial. This was our first time at this venue, and typically Walter is always spaced out for his first several runs at a new place so I wasn't expecting much today. What do you know, he didn't have a single spaced out moment all day! Amazing! Right from the start of his first run he ran as though he had been there umpteen times before. That was a real treat. Not to say that we racked up the Qs, but he did get a Q in his first run, a nice flowy Standard, which thanks to Spring Forward weekend set a record for our earliest run ever, at about 6:50am. Well ok technically 7:50am, but it still felt like 6:50 to us.

He would have picked up a second Standard Q except he was nervous of the dogwalk. It's an aluminum dogwalk that's on the narrow and springy side so I guess he remembered the springiness from his first run and decided "nah" for the second time, which caught me by surprise as it was an easy straight on approach. After four or five attempts I switched sides to make it different and then he finally took it. What a brave boy. Rest of the run was good.

Our third run was Snooker and curses, the 12-weaves were #6 so we had to go for four #7s in the opening in order to not have to count on the weaves in the closing. Not sure why I was so paranoid about the weaves since he did them great in both Standards, but oh well. Double curses, the #7 was a three-obstacle combo so it ate up a lot of time and we had a few miscues which ate up more time so the whistle blew just after we started the closing. NQ.

I'd been spying on him every now and then as he spent his down time in the car; the little goof was always sitting up and watching things. At other trials recently he's started to lie down and rest, maybe even sleep, so his energy level has been pretty good the whole day long, but not here, not today. Darn.

Fourth was Jumpers, which was around 2:30pm. Even before we started the run, he wasn't nearly as perky and excited as he had been in his first runs of the day. Sure enough, on the startline he only did a couple of barks instead of his usual "yip yap! yip yip! yip! I am Walter! Hear me bark like a girl!" The course allowed for a number of rear cross opportunities which I wanted to try since we haven't done many rear crosses lately; didn't quite work though since he was on the slow side so my timing was terrible. Missed a jump due to a nearby dummy chute (my fault, didn't bother "fixing" it). Overall he felt sluggish during this run, but especially after the chute call-off (video below) - poor guy looks so dejected. He must have been so sure that the chute was next, and indeed that's where I was leading him, ... sigh. After the run we went out for our traditional post-run game of fetch and tug which Walter usually goes nutso for, but he was more interested in making snow angels than doing much fetching or tugging. :-)

His last run of the day was supposed to be Steeplechase, but since he seemed to be feeling tired and hot (both the facility and the outside temperature had warmed up quite a bit since the morning), I figured he wouldn't have been particularly appreciative of having to run a Steeplechase with not one, but TWO sets of 12-weaves, so I scratched him.

Here's the only run we got on video today, Jumpers. Check out the cool videoing vantage point from the second level!

Just have to say, this facility, which is actually a multi-sport complex complete with ice rink and lots of hyper hockey-gear-clad kids running around in the hallways, is FANTASTIC for agility. Though crating is limited, no matter where you set up you can easily see both rings at all times. Neat upper level balcony for filming. Too bad non-entered dogs aren't allowed in the building (which is why Lucy stayed home), but that's ok; I'll definitely plan to come back next year.

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