Saturday, 7 June 2008

OMG, We Are Grade 6

I'm up fairly early this morning for the short-ish drive to the dog show at Osmaston. As we walk our first course of the day most of the other competitors are going around with their heads in their hands cursing the judge for setting what is a tight, tricky and slow course. It looks fine to me, in fact I can barely hide my joy. The judge apparently is well known for such delights and I'm tempted to kiss him because the course will suit us down to the ground. By rights, the course should be testing because the same course is being used for grades 4 through to the experts of grade 7.

I head back to Doggo, who is waiting impatiently in the car, and tell him the good news about the excellent course that the judge has set. I tell him, that if we can go clear we might get among the trophies today because a lot of dogs won't get around it all. Particularly as there are several important 'qualifiers' on elsewhere and so the field isn't quite as high class as it might have been. I think he looks excited as he heads over to pee up the nearest hedge.

An hour or so later, we are on the start line and a tad nervous. One of my trainers is watching, as are several other people from my club, just to add to the pressure. About three quarters of the field have already run and there are only six clear rounds in our grade, proving how tricky it is. So a clear round almost certainly guarantees a top ten rosette but perhaps we can do better than that. The best time so far is around 37 seconds, which doesn't sound particularly fast.

I play safe at the start, making doubly sure he gets his contact at the end of the dog walk but it means I'm not quite in the right position for the next bit. This costs us a bit of time and nearly gets us eliminated as Doggo heads towards the tunnel, which is not the next obstacle. I manage to pull him away from it and we 'storm', as much as Doggo can, around the rest of the course. We cope with the 'wall' and the diagonal weave entry. A clear round, even Doggo looks pleased-ish. The time is under 37 seconds and OMG, we go into the lead. Blimey. Didn't expect it to go quite that well. Must have been the Methi Naan last night.

None of the later competitors beat our time though there is a risk that another dog from my club could beat us. Luckily her owner doesn't want to win, for reasons too complicated to explain, but basically winning would take them into Grade 6 and therefore make them ineligible for a Grade 5 specific event that they are hoping to compete and do well in, in August. So she doesn't run it too fast and in any case they make a mistake that costs them time.

So amazingly victory is ours. Shocked or what. Our only top ten this season in Grade 5 has been a 7th place so to win one is just incredible.

This also moves us up to Grade 6 which will be a real challenge. The downside is that the chances of us getting any trophies in Grade 6 are slim as my trainer demonstrated when on the same course, she won the Grade 6 class with a time of 31 seconds. Five seconds faster than us.

After that, nothing else really matters. We put in good solid performances in our other two events, clocking clear rounds in both but on fast courses we are out of the rosettes on both.

We have all our runs done by lunchtime and we are rather anti-social by not staying for our presentation. We just take the trophy and run because we had promised to go see Doggo's brother do his own dog event at 3pm in Bramcote. We didn't expect to win anything. So we make out apologies and leave.

Little did we expect to add a rosette at the Bramcote show, where we are badgered into entering the 'fastest sit' competition. You have to be careful how you say that. Basically dogs and owners had to walk round in a circle to music and then when the music stopped they had to sit. The dogs that is, not the owners. The last one to sit was eliminated. Skilful agility this is not. All the same, we picked up a rosette for 5th but we were defeated by Doggo's brother partnered by L who came in 3rd. Grrrr.

Today in Austria and Switzerland, Euro 2008 kicks off, of course without England. I watch some of the opening game.

In the evening we rather unfairly head off out to celebrate Doggo's win without him but he does look knackered or so we tell him. We head into town, eating at Broadway before heading out to the Moot Hall and then back via the Dragon to the Ropewalk.

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