What a perfect way to end a summer of agility by spending a day at Gemini Agility Trial in Littleton, MA. Entering this event was an exception to my general rule of avoiding trials in July and August, since Marco goes into the ring on hot days only under visible protest, which he demonstrates by moving at full creep.
But whereas most agility organizations require you to submit your entry weeks in advance, Gemini lets you enter the day of the trial, which allows you to gauge whether you might, just possibly, catch a good day. The forecast was good, so off we went.
When you participate in an agility trial in New England, you might find yourself in a manicured field ringed with maples, or in a fairground amidst the pines. Or, you might end up in a fenced enclosure behind a warehouse in an industrial park. The Gemini trial falls into the last category, but I love the place, because it was at Gemini’s agility classes that Marco and I first began to learn this sport. Besides, fill any location with colorful hoops and hurdles, throw in about a hundred tail-wagging dogs, and even Alcatraz seems cheery.
Anyway, what the Gemini trial lacked in pastoral charms it made up for in efficiency and consideration. Scores were calculated with astonishing swiftness, and runs went smoothly and quickly. And in the gate area (which previously functioned like a gargantuan roasting pan since it was totally exposed to the sun) a large canopy sprouted, as welcome as Jonah’s sheltering vine.
That shady spot was also where ribbons were doled out, and I was delighted that for each of his four runs, Marco earned a green “Q” or “qualifying” ribbon. Never before has he had such a success rate. And this despite the fact that his usual panache had inexplicably deserted him. He tiptoed over the dogwalk in Standard like a novice, and slowed down before a tunnel in Wildcard with a muddled expression that asked “Now what?
Enter it, Marco!!! My hand, my feet, my shoulders, and even my gaze all point to that tunnel, I am a study in impeccable handling form, so yes! Enter the tunnel.
And of course he did enter it, finishing with no faults in that or any of his runs, all in respectable if not dazzling times. And he did not fly off the A-frame, but was very careful to come to a real stop at the bottom – good boy!
When the last run ended and the dog crates were heaved back in cars, some of us headed for the home of our agility-buddy Alice, a former Gemini student. It was Marco’s first real party, and I was pleased to see him heed the better angels of his nature. In fact, all the beagles, pugs and border collies that eventually spilled into the house, wagging tails in a wide metronomical arcs, were remarkably well-behaved.
Skippy and Miss Molly, Alice’s keeshonds and co-hosts for the party, were quite gracious - although Miss Molly eventually became somewhat conflicted about all the canine encroachment and ended up having to party from within her firmly-shut crate. A potluck supper, time for chatting, a champagne toast for those who had recently earned significant titles – and the summer trial season of 2010 came to an end.