Kennel Club International Festival 2017

KCI was probably one of my favourite shows of the year, even though results wise there was almost nothing and we had some bad news during it! This is going to be a LONG post.

On Thursday Toast was jumping beautifully, just silly mistakes from me but working really nicely. However we were there from 8am and didn’t run until 3:30pm – and of course typically our runs clashed so we were doing them back to back. I forgot to change my shoes which meant I either borrowed Lucy’s salomons or I ran in my very slippy trainers!! It was funny but not the easiest way to “get in the game” – so unsurprisingly, no clears haha!

Favourite run of the weekend by Peter Ayling

On Friday I got a call to say our landlord was reclaiming the property. Cue breakdown Cat – had a cry/panic and wondered whether or not to pack up and go home.

I started calling estate agents immediately but realised there was no point in going home – as it was the weekend and there was nothing productive I could do to help the situation. So we stayed, albeit stressed and sad – which meant I didn’t get a single clear round Friday or Saturday.

My runs on Saturday were all in the morning/early afternoon. I went to warm him up by an open area near our tent, but someone had parked their open van there and as we walked past their dogs went mental (despite keeping some distance from it). Toast freaked out and kept going over to the van so I had to put him back on lead. I don’t know if they had permission to park there, but I also don’t know if it was actually supposed to be an exercise area haha.

He then started to react to dogs going past in the garden which again is not normal. I took him down to run a jumping course which was really nice, and whilst waiting in the queue he lunged as the dog on the startline took off (chase not aggression). I was tying my shoe so panicked and went to grab his harness, and accidentally nipped a bit of his skin. He SCREAMED and jumped on top of me for a hug.

I apologised a lot but he just continued to look soooo anxious, especially around other dogs. I don’t know if he associated the nipping with other dogs?! He shouldn’t have as it was definitely my fault, but I felt so sorry for him. We set off OK but he was a bit slow, and when he missed his weaves he did that displacement thing of looking around and sniffing the air. He has never ever ever done that before so I genuinely felt a little bit heartbroken for him.

We carried on and luckily that was the last run of the day. I was so frustrated and upset about what was going on that I didn’t know if it was fair to keep running him. So I took a little bit of time to reassure him in our garden and in no time at all he chilled out about other dogs. We had some serious chill out time not doing much and I made sure he had a proper nights sleep. I had to remind myself we were on day 3 of the biggest show of the year – this was a huge environment for him and I don’t think dogs sleep very well at shows anyway.

Sunday morning he was back! Phew. Me not so much. We had a really good agility run but I had walked it wrong so E’d myself without realising haha – luckily we had a pole or I would have been upset!!! Then in our jumping it required either a rear cross or some serious distance handling. I decided to try and blind in a bit of a tricky place – which I think would have been ok (and at least I could have backed out and rear’d it instead), however…

Whilst I was getting him ready to step into the ring, people were stepping over him and into the entrance of the ring. One lady was trying to plan the course in her head? Why not do that from the sideline? I was getting really frustrated but aware how emotionally unstable I was, I didn’t want to say something as I knew any words that may came out of my mouth would not have been civilised hahaha.

Set him up and he was sniffing. Went wrong on the course. Decided to RUN to the blind even though I was not in the place I needed to be because I had gone wrong. I saw him coming towards me and just knew we were going to crash, but I literally could not stop myself. Tripped over him and skidded across the ground. My immediate reaction was to check on him, but he was wiggling and Lucy said he was ready to go and questioning why I was on the floor haha.

Everyone asked if I was OK which was so nice, and I immediately took him out. I half checked him over but Lucy and Maciek did the rest for me as I just felt totally out of it. So dramatic, christ. We had his agility straight after, and I had to ask them what kind of crash it was, did he look OK, would he be OK to run etc etc. We had had no clears at all over the four days, so I was just totally ready to quit.

However I knew the agility was quite a nice course, so I decided to stop focusing on getting a clear – I was putting way too much pressure on myself and him. Just run him, see how he jumps etc and if anything is questionable just take him out and rest. The lines were nice and easy for him just required some handling from me.

Queued… thank god for my wonderful grooms as I had to go behind some caravans to have an actual panic attack haha. Walked around in circles a few times breathing and a little bit of crying, then came back and queued. Didn’t try to hype him up, just asked for some calm warming up in the queue. No pressure. Just chill.

Somehow… we went clear. I hate it when people say that they would have been __ seconds faster if they hadn’t done ___ – but I did actually hold his contacts for about 7 seconds. His jumping and weaving was good. His seesaw was BEAUTIFUL. His frame was nice although I think he face planted without me noticing. Panicked slightly when Lucy checked and I was the only clear!!! But luckily lots of people overtook us haha and we ended up 4th. Again we lost time on contacts which was intentional, so I was really happy. Biggest show of the year and he placed easily!

I tried to pop him on the podium for a cute KCI photo but he was anxious again – stop pushing it Cat haha. He’s really not an anxious dog, he’s almost too confident, so that weekend was a real eye opener for me in terms of the emotions we experience as a team.

All of this sounds so over dramatic, so ridiculous that I cried and panicked. I have to say though – in the 5 years I tried to get Pogo to do agility, despite how heartbroken I was – I only cried twice. I’m a hugely positive trainer, so I usually have any frustrations etc pretty well controlled. Hearing that you need to find a new home with 3 dogs sounds like almost impossible news, and the feeling of being so out of control is not something I enjoyed. I don’t have any local family or friends who could take them, so we are very much on our own here but I adore where I live, and wasn’t ready to change that. I’m pleased I didn’t go home, I’m actually pleased I had the whole experience – but it was certainly a big lesson for me.

So onto better news… please meet our new housey. After a lot of stress finding somewhere that would accept dogs – trying to work out if I could cope with sending one/two to my parents temporarily whilst we extended our search – we FINALLY found some places that accepted 3 dogs. Some of them were horrible, really old and no better than what we are in now.

And then… we found the perfect new Clark/Wegrecki residence! It’s huge, so the dogs are going to be so happy. We move in on the 31st, so still a lot of hard work to do but very proud of myself and very proud of my relationship with Maciek. It 100% affected my performance at the weekend, but we put most of our stress into finding a place and being productive. Our landlord gave us 2 months, but we said screw that – we want out asap. I’ve had to cancel Q-Me as we have sooo much to do, and it’s 3 hours away so can’t just day it. Gutted as the judges look soooo good!!

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