Friday was a practice day and we were given two opportunities to run the course. I expected that Peyton would be pretty amped (understatement), but I wasn't really prepared for how much noise there would be. Between the music, the crowd, and the announcer, it was so loud...verbals were not really an option. Despite all of the distractions, Peyton had a blast and clearly wanted to make the most of his practice time by taking every off-course jump out there. Our second run was considerably better, although I was still a little rattled and had a hard time concentrating. Just for laughs, here's our practice video:
After a little break, we had practice for the weave pole challenge. The first run was timed and would determine who we would run against during the competition. Since we've never attempted 30 weaves, I wasn't sure what to expect, but Peyton didn't do too bad. He struggled a little bit with the spacing (20") and he popped out a few times where there was a break in the weaves, but once I figured out that I needed to stay with him and not push so hard, he did much better.
On Saturday, we had two chances to run the course and we ran last in the large dog group. Peyton had a great run going until I sent him off-course at the second set of weaves. He took the dogwalk and when the crowd started laughing I think he got a little spooked and bailed. I hesitated for a bit because I wanted to make sure he wasn't hurt, but he was fine and finished the course nicely.
For our second attempt, I decided to try to handle this section from the other side of the jump before the weaves, but I was a little hesitant in my handling and he took an off-course jump and then dropped a bar when I got in his way trying to get back on track. The rest of the course was great - it was just that one section that had us stumped, and since there was only one dog who ran clean in two rounds, at least we weren't the only ones!
The weave pole challenge was held a little later and we had to run against the top seeded dog, a Border Collie named Indy (isn't that funny?). I didn't have any expectations of being able to keep up with them, but after she missed the entry coming back, we actually managed to gain the lead for a few poles. Peyton did great. He got a little distracted near the end and skipped a pole and when I pulled him around to put him back in, he ran really wide over to Indy's side, but came right back and we finished the last few poles. I was super proud of him...I don't think he could have gone much faster and coming back, he had to weave right toward a photographer and a camera man, so I don't blame him at all for being distracted!
Overall, we had a great time and I really couldn't be more pleased with how well Peyton did! He's never had to run in front of a crowd like that and he handled all of the cameras and distractions much better than I did. I'll admit to being just a little intimidated! It was a really great experience for both of us, and I'm sure that it was a big boost for his confidence.
The event itself was very well organized and everyone involved was very nice and supportive. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who gets a chance to attend. We really did have a lot of fun! I doubt that we'll make the cut for TV, but the event will air nationwide sometime in June, I think.
Even though our runs were less than perfect, I had so many people stop to tell me how much they loved watching Peyton and that he was their favorite. He's definitely a crowd pleaser. :)
I came across this very cool video which features one of Peyton's runs and also a dock diving Dal named Lance who took 3rd place. I only got to see one of his jumps, but he was awesome. Hooray for spotty dogs!