The last few weeks have been pretty exciting, including a trip to Florida, a new puppy, a new RV, and the holidays.

Chili, Salsa, Wally, and Juno were all invited to represent their breeds at the AKC Agility Invitational in Florida.  This is my favorite agility event.  The top 5 dogs of each breed are invited to compete, which makes for an exciting weekend and a chance to see really great agility dogs in some very untraditional breeds.  This is the first time I’ve had 4 dogs invited and it was a little bittersweet, since it’s likely to be the last trip to this event with two of my girls.

Chili had qualified for the Invitational from the regular classes, but has been running at her preferred height since July.  I knew it would be a lot to ask for her to jump 12 inches again and to make time on challenging courses, but she held up really well.  She only had one bar down all weekend but I know she’ll be glad to return to 8 inch preferred.  This was my awesome Chili-dog’s ninth time at the Invitational, but at age 13 I realize it was probably her last.

Salsa has a really hard time with big events.  She had some really nice runs and some others where she was clearly worried.  I experimented with a snuffle mat outside the ring to keep her from being as aware of the environment, which did seem to help.  I’m starting to realize that Salsa handles bigger events better when we take theRV, which is like home to her as opposed to staying in hotels.

Juno had qualified for the Invitational based on a single jumpers run in August of 2016 and hasn’t done agility since the Westminster trial in February.  This event was her last agility trial, because her hip dysplasia has made the physical aspects of the sport too hard for her.  We had fun representing GBGVs one last time and got to take home the breed medallion, which the GBGV club sponsored this year.  Juno’s jumping still looks good at preferred height, but even in still photos I can see that she is doing everything from her front end.  Staying in the weave poles at speed was a big struggle all weekend and she had some trouble getting her balance on the dog walk.  Juno had a clear round on the last run of the weekend, which was a nice way to end our Grand agility adventure.

Wally was the dog who surprised me the most on this trip.  It was his first big event and he doesn’t run nearly as reliably as the girls at regular trials.  He is a really different dog than they are though and was totally unphased by the noise and chaos.  Wally had some nice runs and really showed me how much I’ve been going out of my way to accommodate Chili and Salsa’s sensitivities over the past 10+ years.  It was a big relief not to have to worry about whether I got him out at the perfect time, protected him appropriately from the public, maintained the perfect temperature and a zen-like atmosphere in the crating area (complete with calming essential oils and soothing classical music)…….  Wally is just Wally no matter what and that made him a pleasure to run.

She’ll be the focus of my next post, but while we were in Florida I learned about a litter of field trial Golden Retriever puppies in my area.  Goldens were my first breed and I’ve been considering a high drive Golden for a while, so we went to see the litter when we got home.  Elf came home with us that night and has been a lot of fun.