This weekend was pretty awesome. Won my first world title at the 2019 UpDog International Finals (UpDIF) with three solid days in a row of Freestyle. My canine partner was Epic a 4 year old mini-Baussie who is, of course, totally epic.
Getting There and Getting Q’d
The week started with Apryl’s return from Israel and a rushed exit to the Finals. Eppie and I had to qualify in the last chance qualifier (LCQ) on Thursday. UpDog does a really cool qualifier which is based upon a point value from the criterion round instead of team placement. Not that it mattered much for Eppie and I because, you know, we won it and whatnot… /snark
This the second time we’ve won the UpDIF LCQ and the first time UpDIF was won by an LCQ team. Man, I love sneaking in like that. Watch out IDC…
Apryl qualified with Polka and Lanai McNab. Points qualification rather than placement qualification is great for a large freestyle contest. In all, 10 teams made the Finals; Loot and Polka just squeaking in there.
Loot and I didn’t play particularly well, but were able to eke our way into the show. And after a pretty tight 1st Round, Loot and I were tied for 4th Place and Eppie was in 3rd. Fortunately for us all, Jeff Hill was in between us with one of his awesome little dogs, giving me a breather as the contest was heading down to the wire.
Poor Loot – Shake and Bake, Buddy
The plan and the preparation for the contest was all about Eppie. Loot and I were jamming, but just doing simple foundation and were going to rely on going out there and run some flatwork and mix in some interior sequences. No serious routine or anything like that… so my plan in the Performance Round was to go out there and “walk around” – try to not run out of energy or overheat. I still had to run a live round of real freestyle wearing a smothering mask, long-sleeves, gloves, and a cape.
I really feel bad for Loot. About 1/2 way through our round, it wasn’t going very well… So I just kind of did nothing for a minute – just some tosses here and there, walking around – not even pretending to work hard or perform in order to keep cool and fresh athletically. We did finish the routine with a bang, but I do feel kind of bad about sacrificing the majority of Loot’s round for Eppie’s benefit. He played quite well all weekend. He was a good partner and we were a legit threat in a couple of games, but the discs didn’t blow our way.
Donning the Mask and Literally Using the Force
I actually thought I was going to pass out on the way to the field wearing that Vader mask. It’s pretty hot and SUPER stuffy in there. I think I grabbed some good luck from my buddy Kevin and took the field; currently sitting in 3rd place and got ready.
Right off the bat, I lost Eppie. Visibility is terrible in the mask. Can’t see the dog in front of you or anything to the right or left which makes flatwork rather interesting. I lost him three times during our Force controlled Flatwork is the stuff that happens between the catches. How the team moves and transitions, often without the disc, is flatwork. Flatwork concepts in disc dog are taken from the agility and herding pre-routine alone, then again between the flips and flank in the opening sequence.
The same was happening with the discs on the ground. Super funny watching the video during the Epic Juggle when I’m groping for a disc in the midst of that snappy multiple. Not an opportune time for groping blind. We only got burned a couple of times by the limited vision and movement: the Ninja Bounce in the zig zag sequence; the disc management on the hoops, a through, and the The Jakie is a trick where the dog intercepts the disc on the way to the handler's body and then uses the handler's body to safely and stylishly flip to land the trick..
The Force must have been with Us.