All the excitement and nerves have now turned into exhaustion! Crufts 2011 is over for me and the boys now. Phew! I have to say I really enjoyed my running on the carpet in a big arena experienced eventhough Sizzle didn't come home with any rosettes but it was the most wonderful time to have been able to run him in a big noisy crowd and under pressure all the time :)
We left for Crufts on Wednesday afternoon to book in at ibis Hotel. We stayed at the same hotel last year eventhough it was further from NEC. This ibis has a secure carpark with "close" gate all time for security. I feel safe when I take the dogs out on the green as Birmingham is such a busy area.
The boys didn't settle on Wednesday night, they were quite restless but I was exhausted. I fell asleep at 6pm until Saturn woke me up at nearly 9pm asking to go toilet; then straightaway, I was back to sleep again. We woke up 5am Thursday, eventhough our run is at 10:30 but I want to get there nice and early to make sure we have got a carpark near the arena.
This is Sizzle's first time at Crufts, I don't think he likes the settings on the benching area as he wasn't settled at all on Thursday. I do not want to take him everywhere to tired him out, and he dislike the small soft crate I've got him, I can see stressed in his eyes. Sing and Saturn are more used to it as this is not their first time at Crufts.
The collecting area is always very crowded, full of people and dogs, running two dogs in the same event is extremely stressful especially in the pairs and of course at different height dogs as well. You only have 5 minutes to walk the course, Blimey! How can you walk two courses in 5 minutes and have to be the first one up to run too?
Well, Sizzle and Smo pairs were first up! I have to say I was a bit nervous, not because the course is tough but its Sizzle's first time and I was feeling silly about my "baby". I wasn't sure if he is coping and how would be run the course. I wasn't even brave enough to lead out far to start with. He didn't start off too well but after three jumps, he picked up the speed, that is a shamed as he came out from the tunnel too fast and he missed the jump ...
Sizzle & Smo in small/mixi pairs:
Bracken & Saturn are experienced in their partnership now, these pairs have been partner for the last two and a half year. Last year was the first time at Crufts and we had a double clear and ended up in 4th place. This year, they repeat the double clear and also ended up in 4th place. Go the Sables! Saturn ran well in the pairs, he turned so tight after the cloth tunnel which was amazing! I thought once the dog is in the tunnel, they can't see or hear anything but Saturn seems to know where I am and where to go. Love him! Thanks to Matt and Brax for pairing with us!
Bracken & Saturn in small/mixi pairs:
the handsome pair!
Thursday was only the pairs for me, so I spent the rest of the day shopping. Not really, I did have an intention to go around shopping but I only went as far as Hall 2 and bought a replacement leather collar for Sipzie and a nice Union Jack duvet for the dogs.
I left NEC quite early to go back to the hotel to relax and restore energy for Friday. We took the boys to a local park to walk around and to relax Sizzle's mind. I can see him getting a bit tense and thanks to aunty Yvonne's advice, we had a good game of fetching ball and he was a happy boy again.
Friday, another early start and long day to finish. To be honest, I was stressed. Saturn is replacing Sing to run in the Team; poor Sing is not coping anymore, his injury has become too much for him to cope. I knew what Saturn is like when running at Agility, he can do contacts at training and at home but whenever we go to a competition, no matter how hard I tried, he will miss the contact! I have retrained him the last few winters and we were getting worst each year when we started the agility season, up until last year, I decided we will have a year out of NO agility, so we only did Jumping. Over the last three months, I have tried very hard to nail his contacts with positive reinforcement and he has been doing well ... but it all fell into piece again at the Team event :(
Our first event up is the Team, the course was set by Josep Boix. He is the International judge and we all knew that we are expecting some challenging courses. I was a nerve wreck on the carpet with Saturn especially after Zen, Smo and Tyler all done a cracking clear round. I just had to hold my breath and try my best with Saturn ...
ESSC Medium Team semi-final:
I was very emotional after running Saturn, I thought I was handling myself very well, at least we didn't get eliminated eventhough we had faults and refusal over the jump, the best thing is to get the Team to run in the Final. I haven't got time to grieve for me and Saturn as my next event is in the Small Challenge with Sizzle. That is straight after the Team.
Again, another very challenging course! You can see from this course map below, #8 is the straight pipe tunnel to #9 which is the U shape pipe tunnel is prove to be challenging. I tried very hard to pull but I might have turned my shoulder a fraction too early as Sizzle took the wall instead of the tunnel :( Oh well, there is only 4 dogs ran clear out of 20 dogs!
Sizzle running in the Small Challenge Part 1:
After we had the lunch break, it was time for the Team Final. Another stressful moment for me. I just prayed that Saturn will be a good boy for one last time. We ended up 2nd place in the Semi-Final this morning but we draw to run last in the Final. Zen, Smo and Tyler ran beautifully, now I just wish Saturn do one good round, unfortunately we let the Team down, a big time! I don't know why Saturn didn't see the DW or do not want to get on the DW. I cannot risk taking him further back just in case he turned and took the jump before the DW and got eliminated but God knows 3 refusals also equal to elimination!
ESSC Team Final
And, our final run is with Sizzle in the Small Challenge, Part 2. Sizzle ran beautifully but I wasn't able to turn him into the weave after the long pipe tunnel, he took the jump! I so wish I hang back and send him to the weave which I have confidence he will pick up the weave entry but at this event, I just wanted to baby him all the way but it was a great experienced!
Sizzle in Small Challenge, Part 2:
All I could say is Sizzle was great little dog, hopefully we will back again next year and we will be better.
And these are our Retiring Golden Oldies! You can see Sing is not impress. He loves to do activities with me, each time he sees me taking a dog away to run, he cries!
this is Matt & Brax, do you like our drawing?
and this is the ESSC Medium Team including our two reserves: