So the day final arrived! Set off to pick up the lovely Kim who had kindly offered to come lend me a hand with everything and watch Faith so I could nip off when I needed to, I was sure I’d packed everything albeit a rushed last minute pack as I’d had a busy week. Met up with another friend/competitor on the way and headed off to Excel, took a detour or two along the way, as you do, but got there in the end.
Got parked really close to entrance and headed in once security finally opened the doors and excitedly headed in to find our bench. We were lucky to have a double bench with a brilliant view of the ring! Settled Faith in her crate and headed off to sort myself out, decorated my bench with the lovely cards and the banner I had been given and then checked in, got my number and ran over my commentary card with the lady who would be announcing us. Helped a late competitor get sorted and benched and lent her a blanket as she had left hers on her car in the car park by accident then headed in for the morning briefing with the judge and steward.
Judge and steward were lovely, kind, helpful and really did their best to put us all at ease but for me the nerves just kept on building, I don’t remember a time I have ever been so nervous and I’ve competed before many a time in various sports. I was number 13 and the longer I waited the worse my nerves got, they were not helped by the parade where Faith was so interested in sniffing the floor that I began to really stress about the heelwork because she had been a bit flat and not herself in heelwork anyway since her season.
Finally the time came for our go and as 12 headed in I headed to the collecting ring to wait, difficult area to wait in as you can’t play with dog too much etc because you don’t want to disturb who is in the ring. The collecting ring steward was brilliant with everyone and did a sterling job all day of protecting the person in the ring whilst assisting the person getting ready to go in, hats off to him as not an easy job at all! It was also difficult keeping Faiths attention as everyone wanted to say hi and she really loves a fuss but eventually it was our turn to enter.
Started with motivation/play, I chose to play tuggy, just before we started I had trouble getting her attention as someone was there eating a sandwich and she air scented it and thought it smelt lovely lol but got there in the end and play went well, Faith interacted well, gave the toy up when asked and when she ‘won’ it she brought it back to play some more and it ended with just a loss of 1 mark.
After play came heelwork and she again was hard to set up due to air scenting the food ringside but we got there in the end. Heelwork was a bit of a disaster with her sometimes being with me (but no where near her usual enthusiastic and motivated self and no where near in ‘close’ position) and sometimes going off to check out the carpet markings, crumbs on floor or on one occassion even the judge! It was very hard work and pretty stressful knowing everyone was watching and I was struggling to get her attention properly but we made it round and the world didnt end so it was all good really. The heel work was quite long and involved going up the ring, left turn, across ring, about turn, across ring, right turn, down ring, right turn into a semi circle to corner then about turn and down the ring then halt/sit. We lost over 8 marks for heelwork unfortunately but not surprisingly.
Recall was right after heelwork and by this point I was just a bag of nerves, this meant I really wasnt sure she would wait as I thought knowing my nerves she might be worried and follow me and also that I was worried she may not recall because of my odd energy given my nerves. Actually she did one of her best recalls ever! Lovely wait, straight as a die as she came in, beautiful tight present looking up into my eyes and didnt move a muscle until I asked for ‘finish’ which she gave me beautifully. Was very proud of at least this exercise!
Gate was next and that went ok except a small bum raise as I left, my fault as it was so noisy and I should have backed up the wait command with my normal hand signal but didnt, as soon as she realised she shouldnt be following she then sat and waited beautifully and came through as asked then heeled to the corner under control as requested, we lost 2 for this exercise.
Examination came next and Faith entertained us all! I checked everything required but when it came to feet asked her to lie down, as you can see in the video she ended up on her back, legs waving in the air having a great time!
As soon as examination was complete we were finished and able to leave, its frustrating but literally as soon as it was over the nerves just melted and I was back to my normal self! This meant that during the presentation she came in beautifully with me, happy, wagging and enjoying being with me…..nerves have much to answer for!
The rest of the day we shopped and Faith socialised, she must have been fussed over by hundreds of people in the crowds and eventually I popped her into her crate as you could see she was really worn out with all the stimulation, working and socialising and at that point we got a bite to eat and got ready to pack and leave the day behind us. It was a surreal day, when I reached home I said to my daughter it felt so odd as I literally felt like I had only just picked up my friend and yet the day was over and done and I was home again, it passed in a flash. Despite the nerves I’d love to have the chance to do an event like this again but unfortunately Faith has now qualified out and there wont be another chance for us but to those of you hoping to qualify for future years, good luck and if you do make it there enjoy your day!