By Kris Montagano
As the very stressful tax time came rolling around, and Tony prepared to take over the dining room table with piles of papers and his "Do Not Disturb" signs, I decided to high tail it out of Dodge and head for cover. What better place to go than agility camp, where we could do agility for almost 12 hours a day.
Anthony, Chassis, and I took off on Saturday, March 20th and drove 13 hours through some of the most beautiful country. The rolling hills of West Virginia and Virginia are absolutely beautiful. We arrived at the Best Western and knew we were at the right place with all the SUV's and vans packed with crates and sporting various agility bumper stickers.
Sunday we had to be at the Virginia Horse Center by noon to register and receive our camp bag, which had some goodies inside like 2mutz chap stick, a clean run pen, etc. Of course they had a Clean Run Store set up. I was in heaven and Anthony, a typical male, wanted to get going until I spied Dita running shoes, which left me to do my shopping. We had to leave the store by 2:00 to attend the first lecture. It was a contact demo/lecture by Wendy Pape, which we really wanted to attend.
Wendy's lecture was extremely informative from the beginning where she teaches touching a target to a very innovative 12" X 4' board, which she uses to practice the 2 on 2 off before she even lets the dog on the contacts. She then took questions. Totally awesome! We had about a half-hour before we had to make it to a Susan Salo lecture in the dining room, so of course I suggested we go to the camp store and purchase some targets. Susan Salo is very well known for her work with horses. She evaluates horses' jumping styles. We made it to the lecture, which was good but hard to grasp the concept on how this information could be used to help our dogs' jumping style. We decided to take a smaller workshop with her and she could evaluate Chassis' jumping style.
Monday morning we were up at the crack of dawn, okay Chassis and I were up, and trying to get Anthony up. The building opened at 7:00 AM and all of the rings were open to the campers to work their dogs. We parked and to the right of the building was a very big hill. I suggested to Anthony he start out his and Chassis day running up the hill. Surprise, he thought it was a good idea - and they took off running. Chassis was in heaven! We collected all of the stuff we would needed for the day and went into the main arena where Anthony and Chassis practiced for about 45 minutes in three different rings. The first class of the day was an elective that you were placed in. This was different from the groups that you worked with during the rest of the day. Anthony was in the Dream Team elective where he worked with a different instructor on each day. The first day was Mary Beth Barry. She put the dogs through different exercises and critiqued each team. She had some hard drills with very hard angles to the weaves and tire. Anthony's next class was also with Mary Beth Barry, so I decided to do a lecture with Rachel Sanders on start lines and tables. Rachel had some really great tips - one was to never stop then move and release your dog - either keep moving and use a verbal release or stop and use a verbal release. Also, you can have another student or your instructor give your dog treats as you walk out. This way the dog knows to stay because they are never sure where the treats are coming from. It was then time for lunch. We had about an hour for lunch, we ate and Anthony ran and did some more agility in the main rings with Chassis for about a half-hour.
For the afternoon sessions Anthony was working with Wendy Pape on pushing and pulling the line and then with Elisha Calhoun on distance and layering. It was 5:00 PM when the second session ended, Anthony rushed to the main rings again, did about 1 hour of practice on the three main rings. As we left the Waldron Arena around 6:30 PM we both were stunned at the amount of information we had been given, it totally blew our minds how much more info there was. We made it back to the hotel and into the room, fed Chassis and dropped into bed. We looked up as Chassis who usually floats onto the bed, put her two front feet on the bed and tried to pull her way up. Anthony helped her up where she immediately fell asleep. I am sure her dreams were action packed with her flying over teeters, A-frames, and racing through tunnels and chutes.
This was our schedule for the next three days jam packed with information and agility. Talk about an agility junkie fix! We definitely were on our way to a massive agility high and would need AA (Agility Anonymous) when we returned home.
Wednesday they had a Trick Contest before the banquet dinner. I wrote a short skit and titled it Chasserella - an agility fairy tale. She performed very well hitting all of her cues (and not taking the socks out of the laundry basket once she put them in) it went quite well. Anthony even performed his part as the Agility Prince - If you would like an encore performance please see Anthony. Maybe he will do it again. There were a total of 9 acts with some being extremely entertaining. The first place team was great, performed to the Mission Impossible Song - a border terrier walked over two ropes then skate boarded into a crate. The second place team was a Vaudeville act with a circus theme, one of the tricks the border collie did was to put all four feet into a square rubber maid sandwich container. The third place team was a circus act with many props, that were cute. We came in 4th although many came up and said we were robbed. I think so too but I may be a bit impartial.
Thursday came and we were both pretty bummed that camp would be ending at 2:00 PM. The morning sessions just flew by and after a fast lunch we took down our crate and packed the van and went back in to attend our last session with Nancy Gyes. We were very reluctant to leave after 5 wonderful days of agility, Anthony ran the hill for the last time with Chassis and we stopped to say goodbye to a few people before we started our trip home. As we drove out of the parking lot I think Chassis knew camp was over as she seemed very sad. The drive home was very quiet, Chassis slept most of the way home but I think her dreams were of the best week ever for any little border collie or agility dog. Not only was she able to do her favorite thing but she was able to do it with her most awesome guy. As we pulled into the driveway, we peeked into the dining room and what to our wondering eyes did we see, but two little tax forms all filled out and all they needed was the spouse's signature. What a great week!!!