Leaving for the national finals is always an awkward moment. Did I pack the right clothes (this is a real struggle for any semi-fashion conscious gay man)? Did I remember my dogs? Did I pack my rain gear? Do I have enough time to get to the finals? That last one might seem odd but let me tell you that the sadistic person who put me on the first day has a messed up sense of humor! NOT COOL RANDOM USBCHA PERSON WHO MAKES THE DRAW!!!!!! Not to mention the head games that run through my mind for the entire drive! Never before have I done well on an east coast finals. The best I did was in 2002 in Tennessee when I made the semi finals, only to have my dog, Heidi, forget how to stop… My family who saw the whole thing just said “thats so unlike her!” “there must have been a bad sheep!” “What got into her?!” and so on… This might seem idiotic for someone to read, but for anyone who has wanted something as bad as I want the national title, they’ll understand that superstitions, while not logical or practical, come into our minds on the regular. That reminds me, I think I forgot my lucky underwear.
Driving through the time zones of this country is a journey that lets my mind become clear, some might say blank but those people are just wrong. Driving east I went through freezing temps then the next day I was sweating my ass off. Stopping for a day in Butler, MO to visit my friends Kathy and Kate Knox I got the chance to sleep after a long day of driving and get my dogs out for a little work. Its funny because I live at a pretty high elevation and regularly work my dogs in the heat on purpose so that I can get them conditioned. Working them in heat and humidity was a totally new ball game. Kathy and I talked about it after and I think that working them in that kind of humidity actually helps get them more prepared than the dry heat… I really don’t like this because my hair just doesn’t look good in that kind of humidity… #thestruggle
Over the next couple days I got the chance to visit my a good friend in Kentucky and drive through West Virginia for the first time ever. And, way too late, I arrived at the AirBnB that my family and I had for the week of the finals. It was great. Seriously it was paradise and I didn’t want to leave. But I had to because of some demented way of choosing the running order…. seriously I am not an early riser. If it happens before noon then theres a good chance you need to count me out. Unless it includes mimosas!
My first run was the run that dreams are made of. Mostly the dreams of my competitors. I had a bitch troll from hell of a sheep but luckily Nell was on it and was amazing. She handled her in a way that I couldn’t have. She had patience, assertiveness and a finesse that she surely didn’t learn from me. It ended well with a fast pen, but it was a bit of a chore for sure.
I was graced with the same good luck for my run in the semi-final. Except I had a sheep that was a bit more determined than the last one. You know, some dogs only have so much patience. And I thought that, at one point, Nell was running out of hers. Luckily when I was fed up, so was she. I brought her on strong to try to teach the damned sheep a lesson and it ended with a decent score but not one that I was comfortable with. Well… 2017 has been a year of being 17th… I was 17th in the worlds, 17th in the nurseries this year with little Queen (good job Beanie Baby!!) and I ended up 17th in the semifinal… the last damned dog to get in the final. THE. LAST. DOG. I think I had a heart attack on those last couple runs.
So far on this journey I’ve laughed, explored and fell in love with VA all over again. It was a great week leading up to the finals. In my next post I’ll talk about the finals and what that was like, not to mention the skareoke that followed.