It marked the very first time Koira ran U-Fli. Pallo has run in four U-Fli tournament now, but Koira has always either been not ready (reworking her turn, mostly) or injured (that neck injury last spring) when it comes to U-Fli, so it was fun to finally get to play it with her. Not that U-Fli is much different from running NAFA. The jump heights are lower and the timing/lighting equipment is a bit different, but otherwise, team racing is the same. A new change to the rules even makes the start light sequence the same. NAFA has always had a 1 second light sequence, while U-Fli in the past had a 1.2 second sequence. U-Fli has now changed to 1 second, making starting easier when switching between organizations.
The start lights still took a bit of getting used to though. I'm used to, on NAFA lights, saying READY (as the yellow lights flash upwards), SET (on the first yellow light), and GO (on the second yellow light), my dog is running during the third yellow light, and crosses the line as soon after the green light flashes on as possible. I release my dog immediately when that second yellow light comes on. And I'm normally a really decent starter, consistently getting starts in the .0xx range, and often putting in at least one .00x start at each tournament, sometimes with each dog. But the U-Fli lights don't have the yellow lights flash upwards before the lights start counting down, so my rhythm was all messed up at first. About halfway through the first day, I figured out that the little green lights at the bottom of the starting light tree went off as soon as the judge hit the button, and a second later the first yellow flashed on. So I did my READY when the green lights went off and more or less got my rhythm back.
It was pretty hot all weekend, though Sunday was better than Saturday and even delivered a little bit of light rain. Koira was running slow all morning on Saturday, and a couple times I thought I saw a limp. But when I trotted her out, not only could I not see a limp, but no one else (and I asked about five different people to watch her trot) saw anything either. The most anyone commented is that she is just a little tight on the front right, where her old elbow and shoulder injuries were. We figured it was just a bit of arthritis (she is seven and a half now, after all, which while not old certainly isn't young either). So I kept running her, making sure to give her plenty of a warm up before each run. Her times actually got better as the day went on, making me think that our longer warm up routine was helping get some stiffness out. Her last race of the day actually looked pretty great and she threw down some 5.2s, which were the best times of the weekend.
And then I took her out of her crate to potty one last time and she was limping. Bad. Barely weight bearing on the right left leg. Luckily, there is a pretty awesome vet on one of the other teams who agreed to take a look at Koira. The vet gave her a chiropractic adjustment and a massage, said Koira was super sore and probably as tight as she had ever felt on a dog. By the end of getting worked over, Koira's limp was almost completely gone. But for the safety and wellbeing of my dog, I let my team and the doubles team I was going to run with on Sunday know that I was pulling her. Koira would just get some vetprofen and rest for Sunday. She did earn her first U-Fli title on Saturday, Top Flight. So I was very proud of her despite the slower times.
Pallo on Saturday did pretty good. He wasn't running with our team. He was just set to run doubles with a super cute corgi from another team- the doubles team was named Short Stacks, and they were pretty much just adorable as can be. Pallo did do his stop and spin two out of the eight heats the doubles team ran, but otherwise ran great.
When I pulled Koira for Sunday, our regular team became short a height dog. In U-Fli, the jump heights are measured very different than in NAFA, and Koira set 9" jumps. Neena, a little cattle dog type mix, was our other height dog, and while she was perfectly fine, it's always nice to have an extra height dog. All the rest of our team was made up of large, leggy dogs. So I offered that I could put Pallo in Koira's place in order to provide Neena a bit of a rest from providing height. Pallo jumps 6" in U-Fli, so dropped the jumps quite a bit.
Sunday was cooler, which was really nice. Pallo ended up running great. I think he was in three or four races, and he only did the stop and spin thing a couple times. Keeping him crated and calm for as long as possible before going to the ring helps a lot with him not spinning. Koira of course wasn't limping at all on Sunday and would have been happy to run, I'm sure. But the long term health of my dogs is more important than any tournament, so she stayed on crate rest for the day. Our team ended up doing decent despite the swap-out. Pallo's issues didn't cost us more than a second here or there. And everyone had fun, which is ultimately the important part.
And while I know that that is a huge block of text to read with no photos, I can't take pictures of my own dogs. It is sad, but true.
Today, I am getting us packed and ready for a tournament this weekend. Saturday and Sunday at the Marion County Fair, in case anyone wants to come check it out.
Koira went to the vet yesterday for another issue, but was cleared as sound and ready to race by our vet. So she'll be running and hopefully it won't be a repeat of the last tournament!
Pallo will be running on Saturday only. He is retiring at this tournament. His long term health is more important than flyball, and every time he stops and gets confused at flyball, I am pretty sure it is a tiny seizure happening. And every seizure makes the next one more likely. So we are doing one last hurrah this weekend.