A Quest to…Reno?

Last winter, we found out that AKC Agility Nationals would be held in Reno, NV in March of 2012.  Since it’s less than ten hours away, it qualified as a local trial, and Dunc and I set our sights on earning enough points to go.

At the time, we had three Double Q’s and about 50 speed points, (after becoming eligible in March) so I thought it would be easy.  We would need six QQ’s and 400 points total to attend.  A few short months later, the multipliers went away, meaning we needed to earn each and every one of our speed points…one point for every second under course time…no more double point bonuses for earning first place.  Gulp.

The traveling road show of 2011 began, and the driving, road food, yucky rest areas, noisy hotels, wonderful friends and trialling adventure is one I will never forget.  And honestly, can’t wait to repeat.

Little Dogs Rock!

Happy boy in the Palouse

We began in Moscow, Idaho.  Despite it raining nonstop on Saturday and Duncan shying away at every other bar setter, it was a lovely trial in a lovely spot.  The Palouse in the spring is an amazing sight, and I’m thankful to have had an extra day (and friends, especially friends with rain-proof tents) to enjoy it.  Thank you ML!  We added QQ # 4 here.

We spent the 4th of July weekend in Redmond.  The weather was terrific, and the setting stunning with Mt. Bachelor on the horizon.  We got a puppy fix and some tasty Lo Mein (but not at the same time because you’d end up with noodles everywhere).

Volcanoes and Tent City

At the end of August, Dunc and I zoomed up to Spokane.  How do I say this…it was hot. Damn hot.  It was in the high 90s, but Dunc and I pulled it off, running fast and accurate all three days on some courses that could only be described as diabolical.  We made some new friends (thanks V!!) and in between moments of heat-induced visions of pink elephants and herds of stampeding Bostons, we earned QQ # 6 and 7.

Lynnleigh Farms over Labor Day was our next stop; a four-day trial.  It’s such a pretty spot with the trees and mountains…and horses…and giant motorhomes rumbling by. Maybe ‘pretty’ distracting might be a better description.  It was this trial location last year, while trying to weave directly at a wall of crated Border Collies, Dunc told me that maybe his sport was chasing dust bunnies under the bed instead of agility.  This year, Dust Bunny Duncan was nowhere to be found, replaced by Awesome Duncan, who earned QQ # 8 and 9, and his Exc. FAST title.

And to add to the fun, we spared no expense to celebrate Muligan’s MACH 4 in high style.

I smell waffles...

We headed to Prineville in October.  For the first time, I saw the light at the end of the point earning tunnel…we were closing in, with 140 points to go.  It was this trial when Duncan shifted into a whole new gear, leaving me paddling madly in his wake, like an uncoordinated duck.   What an amazing sight to see, those little paws throwing out rooster tails of sand, with a crazy Aussie grin on his face!  I was honored to witness Tug’s inaugural agility run, and the beginning of another brilliant BT Rock Star’s agility career.  Dunc also earned QQ # 10 and 11.

Every Champion begins with a first run

Is anybody home?

The next trial in Farmington was Dunc and my first trip on the road by ourselves.  As orphans, we were adopted by some kind Utah friends, who helped add my points, as I seem to lose that ability when excited.  Being the agility portion of the Samoyed Nationals, there were big white dogs parked in every available corner.  I’ve never seen it snow indoors, but white fur was a-floating, and it wasn’t long before every surface of my crate was white and fuzzy. I also learned that Samoyeds bark.  A lot.  The courses were downright tough…technical and littered with traps, but after much obsessive course walking, Dunc and ran a perfect weekend and brought home QQ # 12 and 13 and 45 speed points.

Have ball...will travel!

At our home trial in October, on the last day, 16 speed points remained to hit the magic 400 points to qualify for Nationals.  We had a fantastic Standard run, fast and accurate, and I knew Dunc had done it when he sailed over the last jump.   Pause.  A moment later, from the score table I heard “No time!!”  The timers had failed to work.  Normally our choice would be to take standard course time and the Q (but with no speed points) or to rerun and risk the chance that it wouldn’t be clean.  And then the judge called to the crowd:  “Did anyone get it on video?”  YES!!  Half an hour later, with the video camera in one hand, and a stopwatch in the other…the judge confirmed that we’d sped around the course 18 seconds faster than course time, and earned our final points for Nationals. Anyone within ten feet got hugged.

Gratuitous puppy photo!

The last stop in our AKC trialling year was to east Idaho, and Desmond came along, riding like a seasoned traveler, and had a great time with his Belgian friend, despite Nick being 4X his size.  Overall, in 2011, Duncan and I earned 15 QQs and 436 speed points. It’s been one heck of a ride, and after a lot of judges, difficult courses, variable weather, fantastic friends and amazing experiences, I only have one thing to say:

Bring on 2012!

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