21 May 2011

World Agility Open 2011, Part One

Drifter shows off all his loot from the WAO. Ribbons are for: 3rd in Biathlon Jumping, being part of the winning Team for both Team Jumping 1 and Team Agility 2, 2nd in Gamblers, 1st in Biathlon Agility, 1st in Biathlon Overall (also one of the medals around his neck) and 2nd place Team overall (the other medal).
We ran in 7 classes, and didn't place in only one (he was perfect in Snooker but I didn't plan aggressively and so we were 7th).

OK, the run-down on the trip. PART ONE!

Well really part one was back in the fall when I got him measured to see if he could really be under the 50cm/19.69" required to be on the team for the 550mm jump height (22"). And if he relaxes and stands properly, he is under every time. He's close enough to make me nervous though. Anyway, that done, we won our spot in Grand Prix Finals, so application was easy. He passed his chest x-ray to keep tabs on his heart condition, I booked all of his and our flights, and so on Monday the 9th of May off we went. Last year we had issues flying out, but this year I double-checked all our paperwork and thought I had everything under control. The Continental PetSafe office had my papers in the back for a good long while, which made me nervous, but then they took him without a hitch (after I paid my exhoribitant shipping fees, sigh). The flight out was fine, not too late, not too turbulent. Without the volcano, it was less than 7 hours air time from Newark to London.

The hitch came later. After landing, the 5 of us who were on the same plane got breakfast at the airport, since it takes several hours for the dogs to clear customs. When we went to the Animal Reception Centre, the hitch occurred. The other dogs on our team all cleared fine, but apparently the tapeworm medication my vet administered was not on their approved list, so they required Drifter to get an approved one and be held for 24 hours before he could be released out of quarantine. THAT threw a wrench in my plans. I was riding the team shuttle bus from Heathrow across to the South West of England to our hotel. I decided it was best to keep with that schedule and then rent a car from Bristol to go get Drifter the next day. Luckily he is not a horrible "momma's boy" and isn't too stressed out by strange people and surroundings. I did feel bad for him, as he's never been kennelled before, but what else could I do? There's no arguing with the government! So DJ and I rode the bus to the hotel with our luggage, but with no dog:(

The next day I got a ride to the Bristol Airport (about 20min from our hotel), rented a car (also a hassle, since our American bank didn't want to approve it at first!), and drove the 2 hours back to Heathrow to fetch Drifter. So that was extra expense on 2 accounts - the last minute car rental, and the kennel/medication fees at the Reception Centre. He came out of the kennel OK, but was peeing a lot and I suspect he was too neat to do much "business" inside a kennel run. He detests messy places, as far as bodily functions go. Either way, he ate his food, and seemed none the worse for wear on the 2 hour ride BACK to the hotel again (I am quite familiar with that stretch of the M4 now, by the way!)

i made it back in time for our unofficial team practice, where the hot topic for team members with running contacts was the dogwalk. It is higher than our usual US dogwalk by about 6" (15cm) or so. That changes the entire angles of the up and down ramps, and seemed to affect our dogs' striding a bit during practice. The 2nd practice on Thursday was also a dogwalk focus group, and most of the time all of the team did fine on it. Check-in went smoothly for our team, despite my nervousness about Drifter's height. if he stands "tall" he can definitely be over the cut-off, but I held his treat, stood him properly, and he relaxed right into his nice stand for a measurement of 19.44", well under the required 19.69" to run in our height. Measuring was MUCH stricter than it had been at IFCS last year, and 4 dogs at the event actually did measure up and had to run at the higher heights.

I will get into the competition tomorrow, but I am hoping to have some video sometime soon. A team member's husband recorded all the runs of everyone on the team, so we are hoping we can get them from him!

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