Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Across The Universe

or the country, which ever works.

I don't particularily enjoy airplanes. They're cold and noisy, especially if there are screaming kids. But what I do enjoy is the view of the world from up there. I saw the Rockies. Those were breath taking. I have a slight obession with mountains and when they're at the caliber of awesome, well, forget it.

When we arrived in Victoria, we took the dogs for a swim to put them back to normal. The weather the entire week was awesome. Not humid like back at home, but hot and clear skies. We stayed with a friend of Mom's from college, who she hasn't seen in 10 or so years. (She was going to nationals, too, so it worked out). We went hiking in Campbell River and we breathed in the moutain freshness.

Steeplechase rounds 1 and 2 were on Thursday. I was ready to get running at that point. I was in a good space, excited. Toffee was up first with her runs. Her first run was a little slow, wide turns, popped her weaves and knocked a bar. All the things that Toffee does not do. Of course, her ribs were out. I knew that. The poor thing. After her first run, I gave her a very good massage and she was ready to go for round 2, and pulled up a 3rd place.

Mach was as excited as I was. *Our first run at a national competition!* Two bars, but a super fast time. The second run he was running with more power and speed. Two more bars, but again, a great time! He actually Q'd in both of his runs, too, which was a nice surprise!

Friday we took Tof to get aligned. She's always so good through her adjustments, never says boo, just lets them work. But when she had her shoulder put back in, she yelped. I was already worried about her, because I knew it was a little worse than normal, and then that happened. Ah.

The gamblers run on Friday was nice. Seemed really simple. The opening was a little choppy, but easy enough to get some points. But Tof wasn't having it. She missed her weave entry, slow, wide turns, went around the teeter...just all over the place! She did end up getting the main gamble, but she made me earn that 5th place finish, that's for sure! Mach's run was nice. A few things went a little wild. He didn't get the main, but guess what?! NO BARS! That's even better!

The running order for Saturday was gamblers, jumpers and then standard for my group. Toffee and Mach both had awesome openings in the gamblers, with lots of points, but no luck with the main. It looked fairly easy on paper, but a lot of dogs were missing it. Toffee still placed 8th, haha. :) After that round, I was glad to have gamblers behind me. The jumpers course looked super fun; tricky in the opening, and fast at the end. Toffee was running nicely, but had a mishap with a bar. I'm still not sure how she managed it. I've watched a slow-mo replay over and over and I just can't figure out how her legs got to be in all of those places. Yikes. Poor girlins. After her run, I was upset. I wasn't upset about the bar, but rather about the reason for the bar. She hadn't been herself up to that point in the weekend and as much as I want to do well with her in agility, nothing surpasses her health. I was really worried about her. I may or may not have cried. Okay, I cried. But Toffee is such a soldier. She marches through everything with spunk. This weekend, everything she did was done quite gingerly, where normally she's hard core about everything. Sigh.
 Mach's run was fabulous! Just one bar, where I had suspected, but his turns were tight and his lines were fast. He actually came 17th in that run!

The standard run was next. It might have been my favourite course from the weekend. Toffee was feeling good that run (or so I think. Now, I will never know for sure...that dog...). She was feeling good enough for 3rd, at least! Good girl! It was nice to have a run where we felt connected again. Mach's run was awesome, once again. Two bars this time, but no matter. A great time, great turns, great dogwalk, great lines, great dog. Big league handlers (three of them, actually ;)) commented on his run afterwards. *Happy Dance*

At the end of the day, I didn't want to know where I was sitting with Toffee. I just wanted to run and leave it at that. It wasn't until after Tof's off-course jumpers run that I found out. I don't remember the last time I was mad? Upset? Frustrated? after a run. I'm not even sure what I was upset about. Maybe because Toffee just wasn't herself, and I wasn't sure how to deal with it. Mach's second jumpers was my favourite run of his all weekend. He knocked two bars, but again, I didn't care. His turns were spot on. He was so responsive; didn't question anything. There's no way I couldn't be estatic with him. He put up an incredible time. 27.23 secs, with a 5.8 yps. (He beat the godly Feature's time - who totally kicked ass this weekend! Six clean runs, with the most points out of everyone!)

For the final standard, they pulled the Top 15 dogs from each division and ran them at the end. When I checked the running order, Tof was sitting in 4th. That's when my mom told me I was sitting in 3rd after Saturday. What a nice surprise! I honestly didn't think we were even in the Top 10! Toffee ran her little heart out. That final run was my favourite of hers for the weekend. We pushed on together and placed 4th in the run. Mach ran with the Top 15 of the 26"(okay, only because I had to move him due to a conflict with Toffee;)) He knocked the bar that I thought he might, and then went around a jump unsuspectantly. Then I had a brain fart and just turned to the jump and sent him right back over. Off course. Oh well. We finished our first nationals strong.

Mach has made so much progress in this one year. He seems to progress from trial to trial, each time with a little more confidence, a little more power, a little more speed. All of the struggles we went through were so worth it. The strength he and I have gained from growing together is phenomenal. It was nice to see how he ran against other dogs. There's not many to choose from down here, so when I see him running the same times as World Champions, it's relieving to know. When we get those bars to stay up, man oh man!!

When the final results were tallied, Little Miss Toffee and I were able to go up on the stage with our 4th place ribbon and hold it up proudly. I can't help but think about how strong this girl is. With everything she's been through, she treks on for me once again and I couldn't be happier.


Before leaving Nanaimo, we had to have nanaimo bars, of course! They were omnomilicious.

Victoria is such a beautiful city. We walked along the water, shopped around the market, were stopped every 10 feet because people wanted to pet the dogs, or take pictures of them. My favourite group of people were the teenagers giving out Free Hugs! It was precious. We also went to Mile Zero of the Trans Canada highway, where Terry Fox wanted to end his Marathon of Hope. We stepped in the Pacific Ocean, which was freezing!

Although the West Coast is so beautiful, I was ready to go home. I will miss those mountains, but there's just something about sleeping in your own bed.

And seeing Rowdie, Bailey and Newman (Who turned 13 last thursday!)

Here are {Toffee's Runs} and {Mach's Runs}

Home, Sweet Home.

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