Nationals Recap

So, AKC Nationals was a blast, and we had a lot of fun. Not quite the outcome I was hoping for, but considering everything Trip and I have been through, a respectable showing. I went up early (Wednesday morning) to have that extra day for Trip to relax, stretch her legs, etc. Last year it was so chaotic getting there Thursday, setting up, running the warmup run–I didn’t want to do that again. This year, I almost had TOO much time–it was easy to forget why we were there.

I spent the first night in Tahoe, went on a cold, windy walk with Trip, and the weather was generally miserable. When I headed back to Reno Thursday morning, it had cleared up, and I was finally able to see how pretty it is. After setting up at the show site, we pretty much had nothing to do. And we were in a casino. So… poker for all. 🙂 This is where it really started to feel bizarre. We were at the National Championship, yet here I was, playing Pai Gow. It just didn’t FEEL like Nationals. Plus, knowing that the first run Friday morning was just a warmup, I didn’t really take it seriously or care too much. I can’t work my contacts (running). I just did it to get Trip used to the equipment/ring, and get her happy and having fun.

Unfortunately for me, Trip got into TWO bags of treats in the hotel room, and had the worst diarrhea she’s ever had. She felt pretty miserable Friday. Lucky for me, her mom is a vet, and she always travels with drugs. It improved by Saturday, thank goodness.

So, Trip was stressed at the start line for JWW Round 1, and started a little slow, but picked up, and really ran well. That was the run I was MOST worried about, and we got through it, so I was ecstatic. Round 2 was standard, and we were called for the aframe (!!!), and the teeter. The teeter was an ongoing issue all weekend, with many dogs–I’m really not sure what was going on there. I know that I saw the exact same teeter performance numerous times (including Finals), and some dogs were called, and some weren’t. So, I went into Round 3 knowing I needed to place to have a shot at Challengers. The opening was a little technical, so I felt like at least I had a shot. Trip ran that opening perfectly, just as tight as I’d hoped, but unfortunately, the teeter got us again. Not a fault, but we wasted 1-2 seconds with her being unsure and waiting for it to tip from near the pivot. We finished the rest of the run well, but lost it there. So, clean 2 rounds–I’m still super happy with how she did. We’ve been fighting so many vague injuries and ring stress, that doing that well in that environment feels like a win to me. So proud of Trip.

As far as Nationals itself, I really liked the show site. It’s the only one after Tulsa that I can say that about. Ring 4 is still an issue–it’s too small and dusty. But at least this year it was right next to the other 3 rings, instead of across the facility. It was really cool to stay at a resort-type casino where everything you needed was onsite. We never had to leave for dinner or entertainment. It did get really crowded and smokey on the weekend, but that didn’t affect Trip at all. Reno airport is much smaller then I thought it would be. And it definitely sucks that it’s almost impossible to get non-stop flights. I think that’s the biggest issue I would have to returning, and it doesn’t even affect me that much. If I had a dog in cargo, I don’t know how I’d handle it. Even traveling with a dog in cabin, it makes for a long day. Compare that to Las Vegas, where you can get a non-stop flight from almost anywhere.

My only issue with Nationals itself was the course design in Round 1 and 2. They were too easy. I feel like if those courses were submitted for a typical AKC weekend, they would be reviewed as not having enough challenges. And I truly feel like the National Championship should have courses that are tough. Not world team tough, but not this easy either. I’m all for starting with something more straightforward, and increasing difficulty–that’s what the warmup is for. Round 3 at least had an opening that you could tighten up to improve your time, and the Challengers course and Finals courses were fine as well. But the only contact/tunnel discrimination all weekend was in Finals? Really?

And I know I’m WAY in the minority here, but I missed the ISC classes. I didn’t really care for having a throwaway standard run on Friday, followed by Time to Beat. It made Friday feel kind of pointless to me. Honestly, if we aren’t going to have ISC, then why not make the Nationals 5 rounds, like Invitational? One round could still be Time to Beat for that Challenger Bye. And if you wanted to do a warmup, you could do it Thursday afternoon.

Just my two cents. I had a great time, and enjoyed seeing all the Champions crowned. Challengers and Finals were exhilarating as always, and I came motivated to get Ticket where she needs to be to make the trip next year. 6 Double Qs!!! With Trip, I’m just going to take it easy. I’ve decided to skip world team tryouts this year, and just focus on having fun with Trip. We’ll get qualified for Tulsa, and then see where we end up next year. 🙂

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