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USDAA NATIONALS - Scottsdale, Arizona
November 1 – November 5, 2006

Arrival Day in Scottsdale
So...Mia and I have arrived in Scottsdale after 7+ hours in the car - we are not the happiest campers at the moment. Although I must say, I have it better than Mia at the moment. I have 2 glasses of wine in me already and she is still struggling with her room key and hiding her dogs because her building says NO DOGS ALLOWED all over it. You can probably infer from this that we did not drive out together this time. I think that wine/cheese night will be tomorrow because Mia and I are both kinda pissy at the moment.

As I write this, I am on the phone with Mia listening to her struggle with luggage, dogs and trying to open doors. Great beginning to our Nationals <VBG> Mia says this means we will all be lucky. Being miserable the day before the trial seems to be our trademark. Means the show is going to go well, we are getting all the crap out of the way now.

Day 1 was Time Gamble. Huh....Time Gamble has got to be the world's worst class unless you are working contacts. There were 11 obstacles and the "optimum" (read "winning") course time, was the dog who came closest to 30 seconds in CH and 32 seconds in Perf. That's a heck of a lot of time. Mia held Max's contacts FOREVER (and damaged herself - more on that later) and was still waaaayyy under time. Cinder was almost 10 seconds under, Star was almost that bad as was Patch - Finn - no idea (I ran him - more on that later) so...Time Gamble, not my favorite class

So, by this point, you are all probably wondering what the heck is going on. Well, first run of the entire darn show that Mia had was with Max. As he came shooting out of the tunnel, Mia accelerated and tore her calf muscle. Yes that's right - tore her calf muscle. At least that's the consensus at the moment. Mike Swan (thank all the gods above that he is here) told her "DO NOT RUN ANYMORE TODAY" so Anne ran Starlet (and did a lovely job of it!) in Time Gamble and I got to run Finn who was entertaining as usual. Everybody needs to keep their fingers crossed for Mia and tomorrow (and the rest of the darn show...) Because if she can't run, I get to run Max (and probably get bitten by him....) So, Mia HAS to get better!!!!

Day 2
Gale and Patch both ran GREAT in Team Snooker - both made it through the close on a tricky course. Gale actually finished up 7th overall in Team Snooker! Cinder did not make it through.
Her mother (meaning me) is a moron. However we did get more than 1 point so I am not too bummed. Cinder also laid down an amazing Steeplechase run but her A-Frames were slow and creepy (thanks to the bad back from Bay Team) but she ran her heart out, kept all her bars up (on a not-so-nice-course) and is the best dog on the planet. I know I am biased but still...

The Performance Grand Prix quartefinals were today and I did not think Gale or Patch had a chance (with 5 faults) however, BOTH are in the semi-finals tomorrow! Yay Girlies - now all my dogs have made the semis and I get shirts. Ken is a cheap bastard and the Perf shirts are exactly the same as last year. Wanna bet they are left-overs?

Day 3 (kinda)
Morning - it is the day AFTER day 3 because I was too tired to battle with my computer last night <VBG>

I had a phenomenal day yesterday! The day started when I found out Gale took 7th overall in Team Snooker the day before - and that was with a "pansy-ass" course! What a good girlie. The Team Jumpers today was a gnarly course with a HUGE off-course tunnel option (that dog after dog took) so I was understandably nervous when I walked to the line with Cinder. Thank heavens for herding commands: a huge "LIE DOWN" right before she took the wrong end of the tunnel stopped her cold so I could get her re-directed and she finished the rest of the course flawlessly. Gale ran PERFECT and finished in 5th place overall!! Patches was (of course) perfect so one more team class out of the way that all my dogs got through - YAY!

The Team Standard course was fun except for one area of lots of jumps and tunnels - kinda scary actually. Once again, all my dogs stepped up to bat and ran without E'ing. The next class was the Performance National Standard Semi-Finals and both Gale and Patches had made the cut. I was/am SO THRILLED they both made it because they both had 5 faults in the quarters. First up was Patches in the big ring and she was running great until we hit the weave poles. She hit her entry, came out - STOPPED - and air scented...and air scented....all the while I am frantically saying :"weave, weave." She finally came back through pole 2 and back out - and stopped again...and air scented again...this happened for the rest of the weaves.

I kid you not, it took at least 15-20 seconds (which felt like A LOT MORE) to get her through her weaves. Once we were rolling again she was great but she had wasted way too much time. Once we got out of the ring, I kept looking to try and figure out what the heck had gone on. And then I saw them: SHEEP. The herding demonstration pen was right on the other side of the ring - she couldn't see them but boy, she could sure smell them. Sigh.... As if to make up for Patches' run, Gale was fast and furious in her semi's and I was just thrilled we had gotten through it (with her weaves!) Imagine my surprise when I went to look at the results board and there was Gale's name on the list for the Finals! The rest of the day was spent in serious suspense because three more groups of Perf. 22" dogs still had to run. I would check back and her name was still there - but would it hold? I finally caved and actually watched the last group of 22" dogs run....and SHE MADE THE FINALS!!!! YIPPEEE!!

I went back to the hotel for a quick break (for the dogs) and still couldn't believe Gale was in the Finals! 3 GVDC'ers in the Finals - not bad for a small club in Goleta! As I was walking the Finals course, the sense of unreality got stronger and stronger...I mean Gale? The dog with no contacts??? The Finals were VERY exciting to watch and while Gale was completely freaked by all the noise at first, I am glad I had her out early so she had time to get accustomed to it. By the time we were ready to run, she was SPUN. She was so excited and jazzed up about the whole thing she blew right by the tire in the opening - her stride was so big (oh yeah, related to Finn...) We re-set and went on and Gale was faster than she has ever been! Hit a gnarly weave entrance and just flew around the course. Did she have contacts? Oh no....but that was OK with me - she was in the Finals!!! Out of 12 dogs, she finished up 8th overall!! YAY GALE!!!

Well, today is the final day of Team stuff and Cinder in the Grand Prix semi-finals! Wish us luck!


Day 4
Well, this show has been a BLAST but I am exhausted! Thank heavens today was a light day...only Team Gamblers with Patch and Gale and Grand Prix Semi-Finals with Cinder. My team-mates with Cinder (Mia/Finn and Terra/Seeker) were gracious enough to allow me to pull Cinder from her Gamblers run since it was about 15 minutes before her GP run. Thank you guys!!! As a result, Cinder laid down an AMAZING (and clean) run in GP but we were off the cut-off mark by a second. Sigh...Still, they only took 16 dogs so I am thrilled Cinder ran as hard and fast as she could. She's a good girl!

Gale in Team Gamble was nothing like the Gale I had last night. It was so friggin' hot (plus I had let her work sheep this morning as a "reward" for being so good last night) so she poked along. But still - Gale's overall performance at her first Nationals has been amazing: 7th in Team Snooker, 5th in Team Jumpers and 8th place overall in Performance National Standard. YAY GALE!!!

Patches was her usual steady self - there were a crowd of "Aussie folks" who cheered on almost every run we did so she was quite perky :-) She likes the heat (the only one of us that does) and ran her heart out all the time. Except for the "sheep incident" of course <VBG>

Day 5
It is SO NICE to be home!!! I left super early this morning - I had intended to go back to the show last night and watch the Steeplechase Finals but it was not to be. I laid down to take a nap and woke up at 4:30am! Guess I was a little bit tired....

The drive was uneventful (other than the 10 West closure with no detour signs - that was fun - I just just started driving west on side streets....) and I made it home early enough to take a LONG nap (and of course woke up completely disoriented and panicked "OMG!! Did I miss any runs???") and am now contemplating a glass of wine and talking to Mia to keep her awake. She stayed to watch the GP Finals so is still in the desert. ICK.

HUGE CONGRATS TO ALL GVDC'ers!!! I know I am going to miss folks (so have patience!) but here is a stab at it:

Scott getting ribbons with BOTH his dogs in Time Gamble!!
Peggi and Indy and the PNS Semis! YAY!
Zip - well, too much really to talk about <VBG> but I do remember that he went into the PNS Finals seeded 1st and he won Power and Speed today!!
Max - Waaayyy too much to remember - lots of ribbons in individual classes (a 1st in Snooker right???) and 2nd overall in the team! Make those BC's work for it!
Gale - 7th in Snooker, 5th in Jumpers and 8th overall in PNS! YAY GALE!!!
Terra and Seeker had an AMAZING GP Semi run! So did Bruce and Jiffy! Way to go!

I have to add that while many of our dogs didn't get ribbons, the runs were fabulous! Patches, Starlet, Kiwi, Annie, Foster, Seeker, Finn (and others I know I am forgetting...sorry...) all ran great in their team classes and really showed that a little dog club in Goleta has it going on.

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