I questioned it even as I did it. Would it be worthwhile to go to Nationals, a 30-hour (more-or-less) drive each way for 9 runs for each dog? 60 hours of driving for 18 minutes (actually, less) of agility?
Herewith, the answer.
Yes: it was a great training goal. I worked on so many things to get ready for Nationals: I started running. I trained everything to a fine point. I loved taking first and third in Jumpers (24″ level 5) with Rush and Dancer, respectively; it was especially gratifying when the judge (Dorris Wigglesworth) said she’d been told it was the hardest jumpers course ever at a CPE Nationals. It was made more gratifying by our struggles with jumpers, which has been the class I have found most challenging with Rush.
No: it was a terribly long drive and very tiring for me and for the dogs. I didn’t sleep well because of nerves and unfamiliar beds and too much bad food. It was hard to find the kind of food I’m used to–fruits and vegetables. Bread was easy and I ate too much of it. I hadn’t thought through just how much I hate running in heavy rain. Wait… I didn’t expect 3″ of rain to fall in less than two hours–I certainly have never before run in rain like that. That rainfall was why I ended up skipping two runs with each dog that day.
Yes: I learned something about myself. I’ve wondered if I want to try for more national-level competition with Rush, and right now I think the answer is no. I get too nervous, too easily, and I don’t enjoy it.
No: I wish I hadn’t asked Rush to perform when his ears hurt like that. It wasn’t kind. But by then I had too much invested, psychically and financially, to turn around and go home.