Earlier this year I had decided I would try and attend the US Open in Perry, GA with Roxy. Fairly lofty goals considering Roxy and I just started running standard courses in July 2015 and the US Open was in November 2015. The US Open is the selection event for the US Team for the World Agility Open Championships. This event is known for their super challenging courses. As the event date creeped upon us I had my doubts as to whether Roxy and I were truly ready for such an event. This summer I noticed glimpses of her stressing a bit in the ring and I definitely did not want to over face her. Also, the venue for the US Open was inside a very large, fully enclosed concrete building surrounded by grandstands. This can make dogs feel particularly vulnerable sitting in the middle of a very large area with spectators above you…especially if you are 10″ tall. These are all things Roxy has never been exposed to. But with the support of my training buddies, Anne and David, and their commitment to bring their young dogs as well, I was on board.
My goals for the week were pretty simple, I wanted to give Roxy the most positive experience possible and hopefully increase her confidence with every run, even if that meant sacrificing that run in order to keep her focused and confident. While I did submit my application for consideration for the US Team, those goals were put on the back burner as I knew I would be “throwing” runs in order to meet the more important goals of building Roxy’s confidence. I have never attended a big event with such a young dog, I was swimming in foreign waters and I definitely began doubting my decision to attend. Attending a big event with a young inexperienced dog is a humbling experience and I truly was on a very different journey than most of the other competitors. Humbling experiences can be tough to take, especially when you voluntarily put yourself in one. That being said I believe that both Roxy and I benefited from it, although I think I am the only one who was humbled, Roxy just had a blast. 🙂
We had an amazing time largely in part to great friends! Anne and David were there at the end of every run giving me positive feedback about our runs. Not only that, but all my other friends, too many to name here, took the time to watch some of our runs and went out of their way to be supportive and positive and really cheered us on. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to every one of them. These big events are incredibly intense, not only because of the difficulty of the courses but also if you are trying out for a team spot. It meant a lot to me for my friends to take the time to be there for Roxy and I during this “training” period.
With regard to our progress, I could not be happier! I felt that Roxy’s confidence grew with each run. I saw glimpses of the confident Roxy I have at the training field in each run which made me smile. Man, this dog is so fun to run!!! I am looking forward to building on this experience and coming back next year!! But first things first…one WHITE poodle is in dire need for a bath after playing in the red Georgia clay 🙂
Here is a highlight reel of the fun we had at the US Open, enjoy!!