I'd had to scratch him from another trial a couple of weeks earlier because he chewed a hole in his foot, which was one of those glass-half-full scenarios because it meant we had to wait a little longer to finish his MX, but also meant we'd have the chance to do it at a trial where a lot of our longtime Rally friends were also competing. And I really wanted to be able to share the moment with them, so I was secretly kind of glad about the way the timing worked out.
Somewhat anticlimactically, though, it ended up being one of our crappier performances. That venue was difficult for a lot of dogs because one side of the ring was comprised of large floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto a strip mall, with passersby gawking at the dogs and other dogs pottying on a grassy area outside. Sometimes those windows are covered, but they weren't on this particular day.
Also, it was extremely quiet inside the venue but quite loud outside, so many dogs (including Pongu) got distracted by the contrast in noise levels. ALSO also, I was super tense, which kind of surprised me because I'm generally not that anxious about WCRL anymore, but I really REALLY wanted to get Pongu's MX that day and so it was like woah, flashback to ring nerves!
But Pongu got the job done. He picked up two sets of triple Qs, finishing his MX with an extra QQQ to spare for the day (because WCRL fixed a mistake in our score tally from last year, so we were credited with another QQQ that we earned but weren't given in 2013).
Here is our sucky terrible lag-tastic final run:
You can see that Pongu's pretty nervous throughout that run (stress jumping on the start line, lots of stopping and staring while heeling, freezing up before the send on his retrieve and lifting his paw on the return, etc.) and we got dinged a bunch for crappy heeling, a crooked Sit, forward creeping on the Stand-Down-Sit-Recall, and two repeated cues. (On the plus side, his Fronts are getting better, and my instructor clued me in last week as to what I was doing wrong on our left turns, so those are on the road to improvement as well.)
So yeah that wasn't pretty and I am not proud of our score and I sure do wish we'd gotten a nicer finale for our championship quest... but it was good enough, and I guess "good enough" is pretty appropriate for us after all.
(As a passing thought, this is one thing I'll say about the AKC OTCH: nobody ever, ever gets a crappy run as their final victory for that one. That is possibly the only good thing I'll ever say about the structure of that championship: you'll never get a bad final win on video there!)
And so it is done. Pongu is the 25th mixed-breed dog ever in the history of the world, and the 168th dog overall, to earn the ARCHMX championship.
Pongu's second set of runs was better, because after we got the MX I was back to being totally relaxed and he was more acclimatized to the environment. But those were just insurance runs -- the real work of the day was already done.
This is not the end of Pongu's trialing career. He has only just turned 4. We still have lots of adventures ahead, lots of new sports to try, lots of new challenges to face. He is still a scaredy dog and we will always have to battle with the bogeyman of his fear and anxiety. The radioactive spider ghosts in his brain will never completely go away.
But it's the end of a chapter. My fearful little crazypants pound puppy made it to the top of his sport, and became one of a small handful of mixed-breed dogs to achieve the highest championship in World Cynosport Rally. Whatever we do or don't accomplish in the days ahead, Pongu has already done more than I once believed possible.
HOORAY. Mission accomplished.