Monday, July 25, 2011

Crowds, Competing and A Win

Here in South Africa we have an annual event called World of Dogs and Cats (WODAC).  A public exhibition, aimed at creating awareness for responsible pet ownership... well among other things.  This event always hosts a load of demo's and competitions for all the dog disciplines, although these are not licensed, they are all sanctioned by our Kennel Union.  It has been hosted in three of our major cities.

Now I have never been a huge fan, for various reasons.  First of all, a lot of the events are in the 'fun event' category and as I have mentioned before, I am not a great 'fun event' enthusiast.  I have no issues with these events and kudos to those that enjoy them, personally I like my agility as well... just that proper agility.  Secondly, I DO NOT DO crowds, I heard rumours that more than 100 000 people came through the doors in 2009.  Of course a large percentage of these are kids (yes the two legged brat kind) and I do kids even less than I do crowds.  Kids scream, rarely have manners, are hardly ever good with dogs.  Kids cannot be clicker trained, legally you are not allowed to shut kids in crates when they need down time.  Kids don't walk to heel... in general not my thing.  The third reason why I have not been a huge fan of WODAC is because the benching area at their previous venue, was IN the hall, noisy and busy and open to the public.  Not cool.

Anyhow so this year, I decided not to pre-enter any of the events, however I DID accept my entry to the invitational event on the Saturday.  See WODAC is also our only annual opportunity to compete indoors, so the experience is always valuable.  On Friday however, I had to drop off some things for some of the judges, so I decided to take Volt with, you know some good socialisation for the pup and he LOVES people.  The happened to be short on table staff, so I ended up staying the whole day and helping out.  And surprise, surprise, I enjoyed it.  Although there was little public on the first day of the event and it being a working day, the atmosphere was nice and all the agility guys were in good spirits.  So what was supposed to be a two hour round-trip turned into a whole day affair.  At the end of the day, the organiser of the event offered me entries into the rest of the events for the weekends.  I decided to enter and see what happened, if I did not feel like competing, so be it.

Saturday did not start off well, I arrived later in the day and had to park FAR away, trek all my crates, bags, dog and general agility stuff all the way across the parking lot.  I was not a very happy camper after this, but continued to compete anyway.  Luckily I had decided just to take Spaz with.  Our first competition was one of the many fun events and Chaos had a BALL, it was a weave event and I pulled him out of the last entry, but he still got a 5th place (I think).  I was already in a better mood.  In the agility and dog jumping events on Saturday, I made small mistakes, but Chaos was going like a Boeing and loving the atmosphere.  I really enjoyed the day in the end, so I decided to attend the Sunday.

Early Sunday morning, me and Spaz and Voltenstein were off, I decided I wasn't going to risk parking a mile away again.  And as an added bonus, I got to run around in the main ring with Stein before the venue opened to the public.  He did some of his tricks and got to tug and play around.  First up was contact agility, luckily for me the best round of the day was shortly before mine.  Having watched that, I knew that it was all or nothing and I decided to go for the all part.  Spaz had a brilliant flying round.  He DID crash into the tire, costing me some time...  I didn't actually SEE the crash (I was ahead of him), but friends assured me it wasn't too bad and Spaz didn't seem sore or stiff at all afterwards.  He ended up second in a very competitive class. Next up was the 60 weave pole event.  I was doing this for laughs, I don't think Chaos has ever done more than 12 poles AND the weave poles are his worst obstacle, he is quite slow and struggles with rhythm.  Anyhow Spaz surprised me and did it perfectly and recorded the 4th fastest time for the weekend.  Then we had tunnelers, where once again Chaos recorded the 4th fastest time (I think, such a busy weekend I lost track).  Our last event for the day, was knock-out pairs Dog Jumping and Spaz got a tied third place!

Unfortunately I didn't get ANY of my rounds on camera :(  Yes, I know, ME, Mrs. Video Camera... shocking hey?

So what is the point of this little story?  Well I am 'Agility Happy' again, very unexpectedly so.  I have had a few disappointments the last while and I NEEDED a win in agility, I NEEDED a good weekend.  And I had one.  So what changed at WODAC this year?  Well not all that much, the venue was PACKED, no space for a mouse to move.  Struggling your way through the crowds between benching and the rings was a NIGHTMARE, especially considering the crowd (for supposed pet lovers) was VERY unaware of dogs.  Of course this meant A LOT of kids.  There were as many fun events as in the past.  However the benching area was a PLEASURE, in a separate room, quiet from the venue noise and I did not see any public in the area where we benched, although I did not really see any access control.

So why am I sitting here, happy as a lark.  Stiff and tired from a full weekend of agility, but content.  I don't know and I don't care.  Sometimes I have to stop over-analysing everything and just enjoy my agility I guess. Lesson learnt.  We have quite a few shows coming up, so we will see how that goes.

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