The 2015 USDAA Western Regional hosted by Bay Team was, per usual, an incredible show. If I can only attend one USDAA Regional in a year, I always plan for Bay Team. They put on a large show seamlessly. The days go quickly, but are not rushed, and the atmosphere is always fun and friendly despite being one of the larger regionals.
Before even packing for Bay Team this year, I was faced with a challenge: I slipped two discs in my neck. BUT my dog was in tip-top shape, and I felt as long as I could share the driving responsibility, I would be just fine by the time the Regional started.
Friday at the Regional is what’s called a “local” day. This means we are running events that count only as local qualifiers even though they are on the Regional weekend. While I wasn’t feeling my best yet, Gumby, my 5 year old Border Collie, was running beautifully. We dropped a few bars while she adjusted to the new surface, but her times were at the top of the pack. I was pumped. This was going to be a great Regional.
The next day was the first day of Regional events. We were entered in a Dog Agility Masters (DAM) Team with two other wonderful dogs, and the Regional Steeplechase Round 1. The DAM Team courses were difficult and fun. Gumby and I were ready for the challenge, and navigated our way through Snooker, Gamblers, Standard, and Jumpers with no elimination errors! In fact, we had the second fastest time in our height class for Standard! As for Steeplechase Round 1, Gumby and I pushed hard! The height class Gumby is in is very competitive. You have to go for it if you even want a chance of qualifying. Well, we went for it, and laid out the third fastest time in our height class! While our two bars knocked us out of Finals, we were so fast, we were still in the top 10 competitors in Round 1!
On day 2 of the Regional, I was given a different sort of challenge. Shortly after Gumby exited the car, she dropped her head, tucked her tail, arched her back, and didn’t want to move. My heart dropped into my stomach. What happened? How serious was it?
Fortunately, the USDAA Western Regional had both a canine veterinarian/chiropractor and a canine masseuse set up as vendors for the event, so we went straight to their booths for an evaluation and treatment. At this point, we had been walking Gumby slowly for at least fifteen minutes with no visible improvement. My high-drive dog wasn’t asking to go in the agility rings as we walked by them or even asking to play. I love my sport, but I love my dogs more. There was no question in my mind as I scratched Gumby’s name off every gate sheet for the rest of the weekend. I would make sure Gumby rested and received any suggested treatment, while I participated in the rest of the Regional as a volunteer instead of as a competitor.
Thankfully, the next day, Gumby appeared much better. We think she may have been suffering from a pinched nerve rather than something more severe. Regardless of what was bothering her, I was thrilled to see her feeling better. A few days of not competing is much better than injuring her to the point of ending her career.
Packing up to leave Bay Team left me with a bittersweet feeling. I was thankful that Gumby was going to be okay, but still sad that we did not get a chance to bring to life the beautiful runs that I knew we were capable of executing. But…there is always next year’s Regional. Gumby is back to her happy, high-drive self, and I am looking forward to compete once again at the USDAA Western Regional hosted by Bay Team in 2016!