Today we went to St. Louis for an AWTA (that's American Working Terrier Association) trial. It's about a 4 1/2 hour drive, and the trial started at nine, so you can guess about what time we had to start out. To add to that it was cold! Cold, cold even.
But I was still excited to go. AWTA structures their test in three levels (Novice, Open, and Certificate) and if you pass one level you can bump up to the next level that same day (unlike AKC). The Open and Certificate level tests are very similar to the AKC Junior Earthdog test--which Moe passed quickly and easily--so I was almost positive that he would go all the way through all three levels without any trouble. That's what you get for taking things for granted!
He passed the Novice level swimmingly, no troubles, no problems, no sign of anything to worry about. Then we went on to the Open tunnel. This is Moe going into the Open tunnel--there are a few more pictures here.
He charged in like gangbusters as usual, scrambled into the tunnel for about the count of ten, and then scrambled right back out. For a second I thought he might go back in, but when he spotted the judge and went over to say "hi", I knew we were done for.
Between the drive and the cold, I have to say I was a little disappointed--especially because I know this is something he can do. But, as Sweet Husband consoled me on the way home, who knows what Moe was seeing in the tunnel that might have spooked him. And as big as he is (much to big to actually hunt real quarry) even a slight constriction in the tunnel would probably be enough to make him unsure. Maybe this tunnel was so much darker than the Jack Russell tunnels a few weeks ago (which are covered with hay as opposed to buried in the ground) that that threw him off. Or maybe he just wasn't feeling it today....
But really--I have a happy, tired Moe snuggling with me on the couch, Sweet Husband and I had some nice conversation on the road, and we know what we need to work on for next Spring. So, although it was definitely a wee bummer that he didn't qualify, to paraphrase a popular saying: even a bad day earthdogging is better than a good day doing a lot of other things.