Thursday, December 28, 2017

"At Least We Tried" aka New Hampshire trip 2017

I refuse to let myself slack off and not write about our Mostly Awesome Agility Trip of Tribulations!

Rewind to the first weekend of December. The plan was to take a Fun! agility trip with the girls. 350 miles Northeast to New Hampshire, geocaching and playing agility as we traveled. We got on the road on Friday. The goal was to find my 2000th geocache in Connecticut, making the milestone find on the very special "Another Brick in the Wall" (the oldest geocache in CT.) Unfortunately I was irresponsible (who, me?!) and also allowed myself to need to find 19 geocaches en route. Oops. We ran out of travel time and could not even stop to find the special cache. Sadness #1.

Why did we run out of travel time? Because somebody (and not Molly or Perri!) decided it would also be fun to stop in Connecticut at a Friday CPE Agility trial and play some Jumpers! This put us into an unbelievable time crunch and what seemed like a fun idea was sort of...not...due to my overconfidence and planning too much in one day. (Hey, I get excited!) 

Jumpers in CT: Perri was in Level 5 and took off the start line like a rockstar and erupted in a sneezing fit after the 5th jump. (this has been an ongoing issue, not entirely a stress response. More on this in a later post.) Molly was in Level C and had a lovely run with a bonus tunnel to NQ us. Sadness #2.

Some coffee and back on the road. With any hope of getting geocache #2000 gone for the day, I focused on the second half of our journey with only the goal in mind of finding a geocache in every state that we drove through. By the time we rolled in to New Hampshire, I had found a geocache in all six states that we passed through. This is a big deal in the geonerd world!

However, there was Sadness#3 and it was a big one. In the morning before we left, Molly vomited her breakfast and ate it again. With Molly, this isn't unusual. But then she threw up again en route (and ate it. Still feeling good!) And again. And I started to get worried. Thankfully her awesome Dog Gone Smart Mat was in her crate and absorbed everything, I just rolled it up and stashed it in a bag to be dealt with when I got home. (It smelled lovely three days later.)

We checked into the "lovely" Motel 6 and I took the dogs for a walk for our New Hampshire geocache (within walking distance of the hotel.) Molly had not vomited for a few hours. I decided not to feed her for the night. We returned to our non smoking room that reeked of smoke. The upstairs neighbors provided us with a medley of sounds including: loud sex, furniture moving, rap music, television at full volume and endless stomping. At about 11pm Molly dove off of the bed and searched for a corner to vomit in politely. I leashed her and we made it out in the parking lot just in time for her to heave up a torrent of water and bile. And so it went until the final time at 130 AM. I got little to no sleep, listening to the din upstairs and being on guard for Molly puke patrol. I did not want a mess in the hotel room, as crappy as the place was.

From 130am to waking up on Saturday morning, there was no vomiting. I woke up at 7am feeling very...tousled and dejected. I had some Honest Kitchen along with limited ingredients. I decided that if Molly had an appetite I would play agility with her. I will admit that if I was at home I would have just scratched, but you know. That whole "drove 350 miles" and all that. Sigh. And hey, I had Perri! Sigh. I can assure you I was more than a little thankful that I had entered poor defective Perri in a few runs at this trial because um, I am a fool who drove 350 miles to play agility. And at least I had a dog to enter the ring with and maybe stare off into space and maybe run? I digress! Molly ate a small serving of Honest Kitchen. She kept it down. I felt hopeful. We drove to the trial site.

We were trialing at American K9 Country near Amherst, NH. I have never seen anything like this place and it lifted my spirits immediately! Even if my good dog has cancer and falls unpredictably and unfairly ill at the worst possible time and my other dog is a total flake who I can't seem to reach or help, this place was cool. (I love my dogs. But I ambitiously was by the way did I mention 350 miles away from home with them) There was an outdoor dog park, a competition dock diving set up. Indoors was an indoor pool, grooming room, dog day care, cafe, awesome shop, balcony crating area and the ring was big with awesome footing. They even have a Charlee Bears gumbball machine. The entrance hallway looked like a little village and smelled like (and was decorated for) Christmas.

We arrived just in time for me to walk Perri's P2 Standard course. And she ran really well, her best in a long time! She gave me speed, connection and everything but 11th and 12th weaves. If she had weaved it would have been a Q, and I was so grateful to her. I was down in the dumps and my little poodle girl pulled through for me. Next was Molly's P3 Standard course. So far so good, she was quiet but 9 hours without vomiting. That was a record. Molly was willing to eat cheese before going into the ring. I did not give her as much as I normally would. She ran the course, but slowly and would not weave. I did not ask her to weave again. I scratched her runs for the rest of the day. Molly was not feeling well enough to run, she was not herself. Sometime later on a walk with Perri, Molly vomited again. I was devastated. We only stayed at the trial site for a Snooker run that I had Perri entered in. It was a very easy course, but Perri stressed in the ring and had some staring episodes and we NQd and we left. Story of our lives. 

Well. I guess it all could have gone worse? On the upside, leaving early gave me time to find the remaining geocaches I needed to get to 1999 finds and make New Hampshire's oldest geocache (conveniently within 10 minutes of my ratty hotel, the only reason I booked there!). "NH #1 - Mines Follies". I finally made my 2000th find happen and we had a nice stroll in the woods. Molly seemed to be enjoying the walk. Sadly, after several hours without vomiting, Molly threw up. We went back to the hotel room. Molly refused food. She wanted water. Molly got on the bed and lay there shaking. I laid next to her and cried over the frustration and foolishness of this trip. I decided to get a shower, a shower can clear the mind. I was too upset to go out for dinner so I sat down on the bed and snacked on some pretzels and suddenly, Molly was electric and wanted the pretzels. And just like that, it was all over. Seriously, just like that. I guess stranger things have happened? I was nervous to do so, but I gave Molly a half cup of her kibble (no bland diet on the road!) and waited.  She kept it down. A few hours later I gave her another half cup.

My neighbors were still noisy and I could not sleep soundly, but the night was far better than the one before. Molly slept through the night and only got out of bed for a drink of water. By 7am the next morning we were on our longest stretch of no vomiting. Molly was insistent on breakfast, so I gave her another half cup of kibble. I decided we would run agility. Molly was flatter in the ring than usual but she was certainly more into the game than the day before. She ran clean in Standard (and weaved!) and was only 2 seconds overtime. We got to run Pairs Relay for a Q with our friends Lisa and Pancake (something I am so grateful that we got to do as we do not see our friends regularly!) Perri had a Standard run but stressed in the ring.

Well. That was that for agility! 1/10 Qs for the weekend. Yep. Winning!

We finished the day with a lovely drive and very successful geocaching experience along a scenic route into the southeastern corner of Vermont so that I could find a geocache in Vermont. From there it was a drive south into Springfield, MA to stay for the night. There was a Five Guys within walking distance of our (quiet! clean smelling!) hotel and I got a cheeseburger and oreo shake and binge-watched Blacklist and Molly was eating her food and all felt right with the world!

In conclusion, Monday was easily the best day of my trip. No agility but two planned stops for geocaching purposes on the way home. After an hour we stopped at a gorgeous arboretum in CT for some "challenge" geocaches and a great rest stop. We continued on another hour to at last search for, and find, the oldest geocache in CT ("Another Brick in the Wall"). And we used up our remaining daylight for an unplanned three mile round trip hike up a mountain in NJ to find the oldest geocache in New Jersey! (gerbiL cacHe.) Love that name.

Am I glad that I drove an ungodly amount of miles for one agility Q, a handful of awesome geocaches and a trying yet fun experience I will always look back on with a mixture of "SMH" and fond smiles? Absolutely.

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