Sparrow goes Grade 5 – 1 July 2017

Viva Dog Vegas!! Or something along those lines.

Dog Vegas is a Kennel Club showing, offering up to six classes a day and held at various venues. My favourite is in Thetford where there is 10 days of doggy Vegas (though Tuesday and Thursday are rest days).

I attended my first Dog Vegas last year and Merlin came home with a bumper crop of rosettes. This year I was hoping to work on his last few points for his silver warrant, but things didn’t quite work out. Merlin is currently out of action, so this week was going to be all about Sparrow.

I didn’t start the week in the best frame of mind, I handled courses badly and Sparrow was hesitant. I came away with a lot of Es and feeling that I had let our team down. For various reasons I did not end up running during the week, so I started afresh the following Friday (30 June). By now I had had time to dust myself off and give myself a good talking to.

The plan was to run the courses with gusto, do all the hard bits the difficult way (not babying Sparrow around) and really make the effort. Our first runs were still faulted or eliminations BUT I came off the course each time feeling amazing. We had TRIED and it was like a surge of positivity as I came out. Even as we rounded off our last three runs of the week, I felt good.

As we approached the last run of the day, and of that year’s summer show, I was feeling much more confident about what I was doing. The last course was a combined 1-4 agility. It was a flowing run, but there was a huge curving line between the dogwalk and a-frame. The dogs had to come out of a tunnel and take the far jump of a three-sided box. I knew if I did not sprint to reach that part of the course, Sparrow would come over the nearest jump. Running flat out (for me!) meant letting her get on with her dogwalk contact, I couldn’t watch her, I just had to move.

And so I powered off as she hit the dogwalk, giving her her running contact command, knowing that sometimes at speed she missed. I made it to where I needed to be – just – she got the a-frame spot on, then the seesaw and lastly a final pivot and through the weaves to home.

When I finished the course and heard the judge clap I was over the moon – the best run of the week for sure! But the news got better and better, because as the other dogs completed the course I realised that Sparrow had the fastest time. Sparrow was the winner by 2 seconds, and that win also meant she had just gone Grade 5!

Earlier in the week I had told myself that if I didn’t start running better, then we didn’t deserve to go Grade 5. That was my little kick up the backside, to get me motivated. And it worked.

Now we need to keep proofing those contacts and running our hearts out. No more faffing or hesitant runs. No more playing it safe.

Time to run like I mean it, and be the handler my little girl needs. Well done Sparrow, I promise to try harder as we start working our way towards Grade 6.

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