One of the first trials I ever went to was the Black CAT trial in 2001 or 2002 which had the Northwest Cup competition – Fenwick won the Novice Cup! I had no idea what was going on at the time, but it was fun to come home with a big glass engraved trophy. Back in the day the NW Cup was a huge three ring event that would go on until way too late in the evening. It was a COMPETITION back then, and one of the largest and most fun trials around. I really miss the big trials, regionals, that kind of thing – we don’t have any trials like that around here anymore.

I always remember it being SO COLD at this trial that first year. I don’t think I had adapted to the agility lifestyle yet in the early years, as I don’t really get cold at trials these days. But my memories are of just freezing my ass off in October. This year it was like 75 and sunny and just the tiniest little trial, the days of the big exciting NW Cup are over, unfortunately. And our weather is just bizarre.

There are many reasons for the decline in entries, including the fact there are a LOT more trials around than there used to be. Back in the day this trial would draw people in from all over the PNW, these days people trial close to home every weekend. USDAA missed the bus with the change in agility. They never did listen to their customers and people went to the venues that had the qualities that were important to them. These days it’s the same people that do USDAA that did it when I started, there are just a lot less of them now – and when they’re done, I can’t imagine anyone is going to pick up the slack to keep the trials running.

End of an era, for good or bad. I think when I started agility is was a lot more about, well, AGILITY. People went to trials to compete and run fast and do their best. Now it’s a game of titles and qualifications to get to OTHER events.  USDAA agility has been slowly dying in our area for many years, and I don’t see it making a comeback at this point. I go to a couple trials a year. There are some good things about it, definitely can be more interesting courses, but so MANY classes, and so many classes I’m not interested in. NADAC, also, not much left. Just AKC and CPE at this point.

So we just went for today, and we had fun. Lovely weather, some fun interesting courses, fun people I don’t normally see – good times. Bright had her second trial at 16 and she liked it – zoom zoom! Navarre loved the border collie charged atmosphere and was kind of a goober. He had some really nice parts too though, he is growing up, ever so slowly. He did finally finish his advanced title, so whenever he actually does another USDAA show he’ll actually be in masters!

A couple positive changes USDAA has made was allowing bitches in season and fix and continue. I did actually take advantage of fix and continue today when Navarre thought threadle cues were for sissies. Surprisingly, Navarre got transfixed by some girl smell before we went into the ring for his standard run today, which has never happened at a trial or even when he’s been around girls in full standing heat! I think that’s the only reason he Q’d in that run, his brain was not totally engaged in what we were doing. We will train more for it next time, and it didn’t help that I didn’t have any cookies all weekend.

So lots of learning with Navarre, and I know I need to be much more aggressive with my handling with Navarre – a lot of issues were my fault because I just didn’t cue things appropriately. It can be a challenge to run two such different dogs, and Bright and I were in sync this weekend … not so much Navarre and I. Still, good parts, lots of fun – love my goober. And Bright did some amazing things, I think we may have finally gotten our groove back. New and Improved Bright has arrived and her times were surprisingly fast all weekend, she’s in her prime these days.

And Haku got to play! God does he love to bark, we had a great time. Love that dog so much, though this is the last time I’ll ask him to do any agility. Bummed they put jumps in a tunnelers course (WTF?), but he had fun anyway:

Very glad I kept the agility schedule light, we have weekend #3 of agility coming up and it’s been a lot. I can’t believe it’s going to be 80 degrees tomorrow, I’m ready to get back to raining at 45 please! I must admit, the colors this year are just gorgeous though, they usually get blown off so quickly, but not this year.

In other news been experimenting with some obedience with Navarre. So far, he doesn’t seem to have strangely sullen attitude on recalls that he used to. I never understood why he seemed to think it was SO STUPID to just come to me and get rewarded. Fixing his heeling is going to be the big job though. I’ve been using a hand touch at my side above his head. We have been working a LOT on hand touches this year with our agility work, but it’s funny how he thinks I’m WRONG when I’m asking him to do it in a heel position. So basically we’re heeling and and I’m asking him to pop up and do a hand touch as we go, which does not work if he’s forging – he has to be in heel position to hit my hand. His solution is to just ignore my hand touch cue and keep forging though – dork. So that tells me he REALLY thinks he’s correct in heeling like a foot in front of me. We’ll keep working on it, he’s enjoying the training these days.

Fig stayed briefly with Karen in California before moving on Texas, where she’s to be trained for agility. Which is great, wonderful home, great trainer – and Fig is being a total bitch. Sigh. She going after their dogs when there is food around, which is something she had started doing before she left here, just a few times. So we’ll see if she gets herself kicked out, I hope not, it’s a great opportunity for her. I don’t think she’s a bad puppy, but, yeah, that behavior needs to be corrected and fast. I didn’t work on it while she was here, it was something she just started doing once suddenly food became valuable a couple weeks before she left. I think she can get past it. I hope she does, anyway.

We are enjoying the puppy-free lifestyle here though, it is much more relaxing. Figgy was a lot of work, and my three just aren’t. Such good little nuggets, I’m very thankful to have dogs that get along so well. And the cats too! It’s a houseful of love.

London’s sister Flair! She’ll be 15 next month

Haku’s sister Pixel – the cutest!