|Kiwi and Cactus|
Although this post is slightly delayed in coming I can assure you that the excitement of the 2010 JRTCA Nationals has far from dulled at this house. At the end of October Kiwi and I flew to Ottawa to meet up with Sandra and the Brockwood Terriers for the drive down to Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Our trip was a relaxed one and I enjoyed Sandra's company immensely as I normally make these long trips alone. Kiwi travelled very well and, as usual, settled in to the hotel quickly.
Traveling with just one terrier was also a unique experience for me and while it was much less hectic I will definitely bring a few more to the 2011 Nationals. The decision to leave everyone else at home was not one I made lightly but the logistics of sending 2-3 more terriers by plane cargo when it is winter here was just not feasible.
The National Trial is 3 day event with racing on Friday, Working and Puppy Conformation on Saturday and Open Conformation on Sunday. This was the first yer the trial was to be held in Gettysburg PA and picturesque setting could not have been found. Gettysburg is a beautiful city rich with history and the trail site was no exception. set in the rolling hills surrounding the city a backdrop of fall colors surrounded us as we kicked off the 2010 JRTCA Nationals.
Friday morning saw Kiwi and I up bright and early for racing. With so many terriers in attendance racing has a whole day devoted exclusively to it. This was the first time Kiwi and I had ever experienced multiple heats and multiple runoffs before the divisional finals and while I knew she was pretty fit there was defiantly going to be a LOT of racing for her that day. Kiwi has never been officially "trained" to race, I honestly just popped her in the box in Nebraska so she would settle down little for the conformation ring later that day, but she loved it so much we continued to enter. she has steadily improved over the course of the year learning to wait patiently in the starting box, so as to have a cl en start , and that the whole goal is getting to the other side of the finish hole first. Kiwi loves to run though, loves it, and the Nationals would put to the test everything she had learnt throughout the year. The flat races went well and Kiwi earned herself spot in that final. An unlucky draw saw us in box 1, meaning the longest wait until they are sprung, and her start suffered little for it. she managed to come in a respectable third but that is not enough to make the final championship runoff - only 1st place finishers get the chance to compete for that.
After a short lunch break, and a little shopping on my part, we were back over at the lanes for the hurdles/steeplechase portion of racing. True to the versatile nature of these terriers they are required to be exceptional on the flat as well as over jumps to qualify for the championship. This has always been Kiwi's event, she seems to excel over the jumps and always moves up a few placings from her flat races. My heart was in my throat as I watched her win her heat, then have to re-run as two of the dos in the race got sidetracked with each other. she repeated her success in her heat and we were in the final, in a must-win situation to earn a spot in the championship race. I loaded her into the box and crossed my fingers as they sprung them. she got a clean start and maintained her position at the top of the pack the whole race. Over the last hurdle, and just before the hole, Kiwi showed her determination to win by accelerating even faster and ducking in a length the better! Our first National blue ribbon!!
I spent the next few hours waiting for the championship run off alternating between excited and nervous. Kiwi is n exceptional athlete but these are the best of the best and it is just a honor to be in their company. Finally the time came and we loaded the three competing terriers into the box, the flat winner from the 9-12 mo overs, the flat and hurdle winner from the 6-9 mo overs won by the same do, and Kiwi. This final was to be run the first half on the flat and the last half over hurdles so as to give everyone an equal chance. Before I knew it they were off, packed together as they raced down the lane. They hit the first hurdle in tight bunch, Kiwi in third, and took the next two about the same way. When they hit the final hurdle and Kiwi saw the lure disappear into the hole she kicked into another ear and sprinted away to claim the 2010 title by 3 full lengths! I had tears in my eyes when I picked her up from the catchers, I was so proud of my little girl.
The euphoria lasted the rest of the trip. Saturday morning came way too early, as the second day of any trial seems to, but I was not nearly a nervous I have been walking Kiwi into the conformation ring. she showed beautifully and even with a hue class of puppies remained focused until the very end. I was thrilled when she was picked out in the top 6 and even more elated when she received a third behind two very nice terrier as she had even more exceptional terriers behind her. Beauty, brains, and athletic ability - what more could I ever ask for?
With all our main events over and just some fun ones left I spent the rest of the trip cheering on my friends and oohing and aahing over all the beautiful white dogs surrounding me. I had the opportunity to meet Sadie's mother Image for the very first time and spent most of my Sunday with her tucked under my arm. My other big thrill of the weekend was to watch Kiwi and Glenlidi Cactus Flash be expertly handled by Penny Jukes to a win in the matched pairs class. Cactus is a stunning dog who went on to take Reserve best Open do on Sunday and is Kiwi's identical twin in many ways despite the fact that they are only distantly related. What a wonderful trip it was to see all my friends from both sides of the country, not to mention Canada, and make some new ones. The memories will hopefully last me the long, cold, Saskatchewan winter until I can get down to Nebraska again in the spring and start my 2011 season!
The True Cost of a Dream:
20 Thousand Miles
10 Oil Changes
16 Nights in a Hotel
2 Rental Cars
4 Plane Tickets
6 Dogs (give or take)
3 Months off Work
Winning a National Championship - PRICELESS