Kili and I participated in the 2017 AAC Alberta/Northwest Territories Regionals in June. You will remember that last year at her very first Regionals she blew me away and placed 3rd. This year we stepped it up a notch... literally! Right into second place!
We started with warm up day on Thursday. This is when we all arrive and get our tents set up. This year the competition was in Edmonton, so we didn't have to drive or stay at a hotel which was nice. You can also do warm up runs where you just get to do whatever you want with the equipment, and can use a toy reward. And there's also 2 rounds of Steeplechase. The Steeplechase runs are normal AAC sanctioned runs, so you can count them towards your titles if you Q. Kili Q'd both of her rounds, finishing her Master Steeplechase title (requires 10 Q's) and was also one of the fastest combined times so she qualified for the Steeplechase final on Sunday afternoon. Keep an eye out for the bird that made an appearance in our first Steeplechase! That was exciting... but not for me! The Steeplechase final was the very last event to be run on Sunday, and everyone (human and dogs) was exhausted. Poor Kili was SO tired. It was her 10th run over 4 hot days and she was not really on the ball. However, she gave me everything she had left and she finished third!
I was really happy with how we ran overall. We had some missteps, and Kili was Kili, which is always interesting, but I felt like we were really on as a team for pretty much the entire weekend. She was listening and I was hopefully being a good handler for her. I struggled a bit this year with expectations. Last year was very stress free because I didn't expect us to do much except hopefully have some good runs... and she went and placed 3rd! I had anxiety about "what if we don't do as well this year?" and I found it affecting my enjoyment of the trial. I reminded myself that Kili has already proven herself, and no one really cares where she places, so neither should I. And although I had to give myself that pep talk before every run (I'm a competitive person, what can I say?), and I wasn't completely without nerves, it did help and I found myself much more free to enjoy myself. Side benefit: I run better when I'm not nervous!
One of my goals from last year was to do better in Gamble. I think we did achieve that goal, but I was still a bit disappointed as I think we could have done better. The first Gamble was our very first run of Regionals on Friday and she came out absolutely wild. When she's wild she can't hit weave pole entries. If she'd been a bit more settled, we definitely would have had that Gamble. Oh well. More stuff to work on!
Sadly, I made a last minute decision not to attend Nationals again this year, despite it being close by in BC. I am also playing competitive Ultimate Frisbee this year and I have several trips to attend for that, as well as a trip home. Nationals ended up being at the bottom of the totem pole and I decided to cut it to conserve money. Also, I found out that it was being run on sand, and Kili can be such a princess about sand. I was concerned about spending the time and money to go and her not running properly because of the footing. It is sad though, because this is the last year for Kili to be competitive as the jump heights are changing as of January 1st and she'll be competing against large border collies. I'm okay with that though. This dog has absolutely nothing left to prove to me. She has attained all of the career goals I set, and shattered any other expectations I had of her. I'm happy to just go along for the ride and see what else she plans to achieve!
Here's Kili with all of her swag! Where will I put it all!?