Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Rest of the FCRSA National, 2012

This is long. It may be that no one but me will ever read the whole thing. I thought I would keep writing during the National, but obviously, I didn't. Once we got home from the National, life continued on its crazy path, and I couldn't settle down to do this write up until now.

When I last wrote, it was after the first day of the FCRSA National, when Little 'jammed' in the Unsteady Singles, and Gryff was one of 4 dogs invited back for a runoff Saturday evening for the Steady Singles Championship.

I scratched Gryff from Saturday's Master test, wanting to save him for the runoff. He looked just a bit off before running the 4th series on Friday, and I didn't want to use him up before the runoff.

I ran Little in the Junior test on Saturday and she did a fine job, earning her 4th pass and her JH title. We were done with that by 1 PM or so, so we went back to the Expo center and T3 for the afternoon. I have to say, I will long remember that afternoon, savoring the anticipation of participating in the runoff that evening. Here's how Gryff prepared (having a nap in the crate in the trailer):
One of the wonderful things about the Steady Singles competition is there is so little pressure on the handler. Other than doing all you can to get the dog aimed in the right direction so they have the maximum chance to see the birds fall, once you release the dog, there is nothing else you can do. When compared to a Master test, where you have to be ready at any moment to blow your whistle if your dog gets in trouble, this was so relaxing. Yes, of course I was a bit nervous, but I would say overall, it was one of the most enjoyable field tests I have ever run in.

From my division, Joe Skorupa and his wonderful brown boy Zip! was the other dog chosen besides Gryff. From the other division, Karen Peterson and her very experienced girl, Polaire, and Bunny Milliken and her very inexperienced girl, Teal, were chosen for the runoff. Karen decided to scratch Polaire, because she was coming off several months of rehab for an injury.

The runoff consisted of two water marks across the Bunny Pond. The running order was Gryffin, Zip!, and Teal. 
We ran the right mark first. It required one re-entry. As Gryffin approached the point of re-entry, he responded in a too-familiar fashion, and ran around the ear of the bunny, snatched up the duck - he knew exactly where it was - and then, remembering lessons past, swam through the ear on his return. Naughty boy! As he did that big run around cheat, it made me mile and shake my head. He has always been a terrible cheater, so it wasn't surprising. On the 2nd mark (the longer one), he did the 1st re-entry, and then, by gum, ran around the other ear of the bunny at the last possible instant. And then he swam coming back. I figured at that point, we were out, but I frankly didn't really care. I was just so pleased to even be in the runoff.

Joe and Zip! stepped up, and much to my surprise, Zip! cheated nearly as badly as Gryffin on both marks. I thought his line through the 1st pond was better than Gryff's, but there was not a dramatic difference in their performances. 

Next, Bunny and Teal ran the marks, and Teal followed in the older dogs' bad foot steps, and followed that naughty path around the bunny ears. Teal also had more of a hunt on each mark.

The judges decided they needed to see more work, but having seen all 3 dogs cheat so badly, opted for a land mark. We moved to a different field, and as the daylight faded, we stepped up to run the last mark. It was about 180 yds out, 2 gunners throwing left to right. There wasn't much between the mound we ran from and the final cover patch into which the duck was thrown. Gryff took an excellent line almost all the way there, faded left, hunted in and around the gunners, and came up with the bird. Zip! hunted more to the right of the bird, and came up with it faster than Gryff did. Teal flew out and overran the fall and hunted in the next field for a bit. So the judges were presented with 3 very different performances on the final bird.

The comraderie was simply wonderful. Everyone was supportive and personally, I had a great time, as did Gryff. 
Left photo by Xan Latta (that's Bunny Milliken in the foreground) Right photo by Candy Ferner

The results were announced later that evening at the field banquet. As I suspected, Joe and Zip! were crowned Steady Singles Champion, and Gryffin and I were 1st runner up, and Bunny and Teal were 2nd runner up. Here's Gryff with his huge ribbon.
With this result, anything else we managed at the National would be icing on the cake. It was the thrill of a lifetime to get to run Gryff on those runoff marks, and results were a complete joy.

On Sunday, I helped marshall at the WC (working certificate) land and ran Little for her WC title. The test was very straightforward, and almost all of the dogs passed the land. Sonic did not get to run any of the field events because she had come in season 2+ weeks before, much to my huge disappointment.

The next evening, I showed Gryffin and Ty in the Veterans Sweepstake. Both made it to the final cut - Gryff was one of 7 at the end of the 9-11 year old Dogs and Ty was one of 6 at the end of 7-9 year old Bitches (out of over 30 girls). As I was gaiting Gryff around the ring, it just simply made me smile. They both really enjoyed their time in the ring, as I did. While neither got a placement ribbon, it was still a thrill to be in the ring at the end.

The next day was obedience day. Frustratingly, after lovely heeling, Ty failed to respond to my sit signal for the umpteenth time in Utility, the only serious mistake she made. It meant my hope to finish her UDX were dashed. However, she did manage a Q in Open B, something I hadn't managed since showing Treasure years and years before - Gryff never Qed in Open B at a National, and Ty hadn't before this year. We lost a runoff for 2nd place, but we accomplished one of our goals for the year - to qualify in a regular class at the National.

Sonic was in puppy sweeps that afternoon and we got a 3rd place in her class. She was a lot of fun to show, and not too wiggly for the exam.

Wednesday was Versatility for Ty and Veterans Novice for Gryff. Ty was simply dreadful, making me very glad she was going to be on obedience vacation for several months. I hadn't done all that much obedience work with Gryffin, but he had a delightful performance and earned 1st place with a very fine 198.5. Here's the video of that, our final ring performance together:
On Thursday, Sonic was my only dog entered, in the regular 9-12 bitches puppy class. The judge checked Sonic's bite multiple times, made a negative comment about it (it has been level for the past several months, but looked to be a tiny bit undershot that day), but then made a nice comment about her lovely head. But we were excused with the 1st cut. 
This concluded our 2012 National experience, one to never be forgotten:
Gryff: 1st runner up in the Steady Singles; made final cut in Veterans 9-12 dog; 1st place in Veterans Novice.
Ty: made final cut in Veterans 7-9 bitches; 3rd place in Open B.
Little: JAM in the Unsteady Singles; finished JH title; earned her WC title. She also got 3rd place in American Bred, but that had nothing to do with me :-).
Sonic: 3rd place in her puppy sweeps class.

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