I barely caught my breath from Xterra Nationals before it was time to head out to Commerce City for USDAA Nationals. So far I have absolutely no pictures or video. Hopefully I'll get some tomorrow.
I'm afraid I don't have any grand results to report. In fact on paper our results don't look so great. But in reality Strummer is doing so well. He's been calm and focused, listening perfectly, collecting nicely, running so smoothly. Quiet and calm in his crate. Freaky. When he tagged along at USDAA Nationals 6 years ago, I couldn't even walk him on the grounds, he was so completely off his head. A year later I was able to walk him on the berms above the rings at 5:00 when everything was winding down but that was about it. He's come so very far.
Wednesday started off with the practice run which was the Grand Prix Finals from last year. Strum missed his dogwalk and ran past a jump that was my fault so I didn't go back to correct it so no score there. Then Steeplechase Quarterfinals was turning out to be such a beautiful run. A bar down (#10) but everything else fast, nice turns, 2 fast running A-frames. Then I rushed things at the third to last obstacle. He jumped wider than I anticipated at Jump #16 and I didn't hold up long enough to pull him in for the #17 broad jump. He either ran past it or took it sideways and my motion carried him over #18 before I could bring him around to fix it. And even if I could have, we never would have made semis with 2 errors and all that wasted time. Plenty of dogs made it through with one bar and we probably would have as well but oh well. Was one of those smooth, wonderful, connected runs up until the end. To have a run like that at nationals is special enough in itself. Maybe sounds crazy but I drove home beaming about it.
Today all we had was Team Snooker. The course was sort of a worst case scenario for Strummer because of all the weaves in the #7 obstacle and also because I couldn't see a good way to avoid the #7 altogether. I did 5-7-7-3 then the closing and he popped both sets of weaves on the second 7. You have to go back and fix them or you get whistled off and all the wasted time only allowed us to make it through 4 in the closing. But at least we made it through to the closing, no off courses. It wasn't a great score but it wasn't a horrible score either and we did the best we could with the course we were handed.
The site layout is great, so much better than at Scottsdale. Crating is near the rings and even the self-serve bring your own canopy crating is fairly close. Parking is relatively close too, easy to crate in the car if you want.
The weather has been perfect during the day - cool, partly cloudy, the sun coming through just enough to keep you warm but not hot. It's my idea of perfect agility weather. But it's been raining at night and the facility won't let USDAA use the grass rings if they're too wet so yesterday was some kind of chaos. My Steeplechase ring ran at 4:00 and was supposed to run at 2:00. And I was lucky to be in the first rotation and ran by 4:15 or so. People were still running at 8:30 and it did start to thunderstorm at some point during the evening. Today was better, only one ring was down and my Snooker ring ran on schedule. I was home by 3:50 p.m. and by 5:00 had a shower and a nice meal. Having Nationals 45 minutes from your house is pretty awesome.