It was rather a last minute decision in comparison to those who plan for months or a year to attend their national events, but it was a good decision! It was a scary decision, leaving Dan home alone with Harley for a week and knowing that any manner of things could go wrong there, but it was a good decision! It was a difficult decision, taking a week off of work in a job where I don't earn money if I'm not working, but it was a good decision!
When I saw there was a tracking test, retriever ratings and a field seminar offered at the Nationals I felt I could make this an opportunity to learn and to meet people involved in areas of dog sport in which I have an interest. Then, of course, there was the obedience and rally trials offered that we could actually participate in -- sounded like a good week to me!
The first thing I did when I decided to attend the Nationals was contact the tracking test chair, Jack Sappenfield, and volunteer to help with the test. My offer was accepted and I was allowed to be one of the track layers for the TDX tests.
I wanted to see the retriever ratings and learn more about what was required to achieve these Weimaraner Club of America titles. When I heard they needed help, I volunteered there, as well.
I mailed off my entries for the field seminar and one day of obedience and rally held by the host club, the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis.
Saturday, June 3rd, I packed everything we'd need for the week into my SUV and Rigby and I headed off to St. Louis! We had a great trip with wonderful weather, arrived and settled in to our home for the week.
Sunday morning we made our first trip to Gray Summit and Purina Farms!
|The Event Center at Purina Farms|
The tracking tests were scheduled to be held on Monday, June 5, so the work of plotting the tracks had to be done the day before, Sunday. The plan was to meet in the parking lot of the welcome center at 8:00, ready for a day of plotting tracks. I was happy to see Gretchen Stephenson, one of the judges, and Jill Paige, two Weim people I am acquainted with! It was also good to see Jack Sappenfield, who I had met at a tracking test a few years earlier. The other tracking judge was Tony Ginter, from Kentucky, and it was a pleasure to meet and get to know him.
|Gretchen speaking with Tony and Jill.|
|Tony and Jill|
The TDX tracks were to be plotted first and Jill was the track layer for track one, which was put in down a hill behind the Welcome Center. My track was the second track and it started over by a maintenance building and went through a field of high grass and into woods, back out into some fields where it ended. The third track, the alternate track, was put in by Jack, and it was located further out than my track, in another field with thick, prickly growth.
|A photo opportunity at our lunch break on plotting day!|
|Jack and his prize Poodle!|
After a lunch break the TD tracks were plotted. The track layers for the TD tracks were Diane Vater, from Pennsylvania; Scott Sappenfield, Jack's brother from Florida, and Jack. These tracks were also put in fields surrounding the Event Center and we used a Gator to transport people to the different fields.
|Heading out to plot one of the TD tracks: |
Jack driving, Gretchen in front and Tony in the back.
One of the TD tests went into a field near the event center and you could watch the procession of judges, track layer and flag carriers as they worked to plot the track.
Sunday evening was an enjoyable dinner with Jack, Gretchen, Tony, Jill, Linda Bailey, Mary Ellen Macke and her husband, thanks for a nice time out!
In an effort to avoid the heat and to give the dogs the best chance to pass their tracks, the first TD track was put in at 5:45 a.m. on Monday morning. The draw was held at the tracking test headquarters in the Welcome Center parking lot at 6:15 a.m., where a small crowd gathered to watch the activities.
|These Build A Bear boots with ginger bear treats inside were the draw articles. |
I offered to provide them as they have always been a hit at our local tracking test.
|Tony going over some paperwork.|
|Jill returning from putting in TDX Track 1.|
|Tony and Gretchen, the judges.|
|Greg Newton drew TD Track 1.|
|Anne McPherson drew TD Track 3.|
|Cari Hall and her GSD (the only non-Weim entered) drew TD Track 2.|
They headed out to run the TD tracks and I headed over to put in my TDX track at 6:30 a.m. so it would be ready to run at 9:30 a.m.
There was one TD pass, Greg Newton and his dog Woody.
Then it was time to meet to draw for the TDX tracks.
|Jack making announcements and conducting the TDX draw for tracks.|
|Janet Boggs drew TDX Track 1.|
|Jane Craig drew TDX Track 2,|
leaving TDX Track 3 as the alternate track for Greg Newton.
|Instructions from the judges.|
The judges, track layer and first tracking team set off for the first TDX track and moved from track to track. The morning became quite warm and it was challenging tracking for the TDX dogs. In the end there was one TDX pass, Greg Newton and his dog Farrin.
It was a small group of volunteers working together to put on the tracking tests, but with the usual camaraderie shown by tracking enthusiasts, the tests were a great success. Many thanks to Jack Sappenfield for taking charge of the tests and not only organizing all the many areas that needed to be covered, but for laying both successful tests, one TD and one TDX.
Tuesday, June 6, it was time for the retriever ratings, so Rigby and I were up early and off to the fields to watch and help a bit. Once again it was a time to greet friends from the past and make many new acquaintances.
They started with the field retrieves and I helped by shooting a revolver loaded with blanks as a bird was thrown into the field for the dogs to retrieve. It was fun to watch the action and see the dogs work the field to find the birds.
|Jeni Roosen showed that sometimes begging does work!|
Then it was off to the lake and those who passed the land part of the ratings put their dogs to test in the water.
|Gretchen and Tani.|
|A bit of a splash!|
|Volt retrieving the bird.|
One of the most fun people I met at Nationals this year is Jeni Roosen! She is full of fun and quite a unique character. She had some good days, some not so good days and one VERY GOOD day at Nationals, when her girl went BOW and finished her CH. These following photos give a bit of an insight into what a fun person Jeni is -- don't miss those socks!!
|Wearing Superman socks, complete with capes on the back!!|
In the afternoon it was the Field Seminar, where Rigby got to hunt birds for the first time. I learned that my serious girl would rather point birds than play with them and she held a steady point on a bird for 10 minutes.
It was a fun and educational afternoon! Many thanks to Diane Vater and Chuck Cooper for giving their time to put on the seminar -- and all their helpers, too!
Everyone who participated in the Field Seminar was given a packet of hunting items as part of the registration. Here's a photo of the contents -- thanks for the lovely gift!!
Tuesday evening I attended the welcome party hosted by the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis, held in the upstairs of the Event Center. They had a nice selection of warm appetizers and it was a very enjoyable time visiting with friends and discussing the events that had transpired to that point. Each attendee was given a luggage tag with the WCA logo, another nice souvenir of the week.
Wednesday was my last day at Nationals, even though the real WCA competition started on Thursday. I decided that if I was taking a week off I needed to use some of that time to visit my parents in Ohio, and so I only entered obedience and rally on Wednesday, the trial hosted by the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis.
Since Rigby was not ready to show in Grad. Novice or Open, we entered Novice B, even though she already has her title. In rally we entered Advanced Rally B, a new venture for us, as she only has her Novice Rally title.
I was satisfied with our showing, getting a second place in Novice B obedience and a third in Advanced Rally. Here's some photos from the day, this group was taken by the professional photographer on site.
|Rigby and I in obedience, Novice B.|
|Rigby and I in the Advanced Rally class.|
These next photos are photos I took of some of the rally on Wednesday.
|Julie Baker and Winston|
|One very happy competitor!!|
Some final thoughts from my week: Yes, it was a good decision. I had a wonderful time, met lots of new Weim friends and can't wait till the next time I'm able to attend the Weimaraner National Specialty!! Perhaps we'll even enter the Most Versatile Weimaraner competition!
Best parts of the week -- seeing people I had met in the past and making new friends. Spending so much time around Weim people and their dogs. Spending time with Rigby and seeing how well she handled all our travels and time away from home.
Regrets and lessons learned -- next time I'll find a place to stay closer to the event. Oh, and that outfit I wore to show obedience -- poor choice on my part!! We live and learn!
A big thank you to the WCA, the WCA Board, the National Show Committee and everyone who makes this wonderful event happen!! A special thank you to all who make the performance part of the Nationals such a big success! It is so important to showcase the versatility, talent and intelligence of our special breed!
Time to start training for next time!! And, Harley, I'll try to take you next time, too!!