The trial environment was like nothing Molly and I had ever seen. In the Net was huge, bright, clean and beautiful. There were multiple rings and the gates were low, and it was loud. There were lots of dogs and people and there was a dull roar louder than any Molly and I had ever heard. I took her into that Standard ring, just a little "Novice A" team stepping up for their first time, took the leash off and she ran circles around me, we tried to do the course and she jumped right over that low ring gating. JWW was better, our only fault was a dropped bar. (Rare. Dropped bars are very rare for Molly.) I wanted more.
Last year at this trial site with this club, a year later, Molly NQd everything, just as she had the year before. We were in Open this time, we needed one more leg for our OAJ and two more for the OA. We only played in FAST and JWW because Standard was too stressful for us at the time. But my little Perri had a perfect weekend and collected both of her Novice titles, all earned without a single NQ. Pristine. I remember my head being in the clouds! Molly had tried her hardest just like always, and my Perri who I never thought would trial in agility had blown away all expectations.
This year Perri is still in Open, and she was scratched from this trial. Her injury sidelined us earlier this year and, never fully healed, handicapped Perri's performance.
Molly did get to play today though. Excellent Standard I was nervous and it was indeed a bit of a trainwreck. Broken start line stay and a wild ride the whole way through.
JWW was a lot better. She even got into her weaves and stayed in, and I managed to handle the weaves nicely and look ahead. I remember being terrified to do it because we were still qualifying and I had to let go of my illusion of control and look ahead into the poles and My God What If She Popped Out? She did not. Personal growth points for me!
After the weaves it was a jump to a pinwheel to a curved tunnel with a tunnel trap, you had to pull the dog (or front cross) to get into the correct end. I thought Molly had committed to the last jump in the pinwheel and started pulling hard to get the correct tunnel entrance. She had not committed, she pulled away from the jump and we earned a refusal and an NQ and no AXJ.
This is our story in AKC Agility. Standard is almost always an absolute disaster, an embarrassment. We are lucky if we stay in the ring, finish the course, if we don't get an "E". JWW is almost always flawless but for one little mistake (or, the weave poles go south). Every now and then, very occasionally, something lines up just right, we get lucky, and we get a JWW Q. Even more rarely, more impossibly, we get a Standard Q. A Q in CPE Standard is difficult enough for us.
Since Perri's injury I have been enjoying having one dog in a trial at a time. No conflicts. No shoving one dog in the crate and pulling the other one out. Plenty of time to relax before and after a run. A lot less stress. I posted a while ago that I wasn't going to trial them both at once to avoid all of these issues, and of course did not follow through on that. I really do plan to try to do better. For one thing, warm up and cool down is very crucial for my dogs. I want to give them more than just shoving them into a crate, still hot from a run. But more than that, I need to be realistic about which trial sites are good situations for my dogs. In the Net is hard for Molly. Perri adores it. Dirt footing makes Perri insane, Molly runs awesome on it. Wouldn't it be better to trial each dog less, but have more quality? Is it avoidance to stay away from places where they can't be successful, or is it just playing it smart? AKC is very hard for Molly, CPE and USDAA are better for her (quieter.) Perri thrives on the noise and the energy, AKC is definitely her best venue.
Molly and I have nothing but CPE planned for the rest of the year. That could change, but if it doesn't I think this is the very best place for us.