Sunday, August 12, 2012

AKC Agility, Hattiesburg, MS... our stormy adventure

Our annual August trip to Hattiesburg was this week.  Tracey and I opted for the first 3 days of a 5 day show.  While I missed a few days of work it also gave me the weekend at home to relax and recover from the stair exercise that comes with showing in the Hattiesburg arena.

Getting there this week was non eventful.  I drove out to Tracey's so we could transfer my dogs and stuff into her SUV and camper.  We beat rush hour traffic heading east on I-12 and arrived during daylight hours to set up.  The RV park at the arena is the nicest we stay at as it has grass areas and sits on a lake.

Tracey's camper as we parked in Hattiesburg

Grace's Open Fast Q (1st Place)
Grace showed well each of the 3 days.  She did Open Standard and Open FAST.  We came home with an Open FAST Q which was exciting.  I've decided we need to play more FAST since the weave poles are not required.  This gives Grace and I a chance to Q.  Grace was in a better mood most of the weekend and ran very well.  I think putting her back on the anti-fungal regime was the right decision.  Our videos are posted here:  Wed Open Standard, Wed Open FAST, Thurs Open Standard (no video), Thurs Open FAST, Fri Open Standard, and Fri Open FAST.  When I had a few free minutes Spice worked her rear crosses at the practice jump, concentrated during obedience among a zillion distractions, or practiced her walking politely by and not reacting to other barking and bouncy dogs.  These 5 - 10 minute training sessions have been super effective with Spice.

We had a bit more excitement on Thursday afternoon than anticipated.  It began thundering prior to Grace's FAST run which was one of the last events of the day.  As soon as Grace finished Tracey and I planned to load up and head to the camper to beat the rain.  While I ran down to verify that Grace's Q made it to the scorekeeper, Tracey grabbed the 3 smallest dogs (2 beagle girls and 1 dachshund) and walked toward the SUV.  Tracey had almost made it to the barn where the SUV was parked before the sky opened up and the fury began.  Tracey dragged the 3 dogs into the barn and had to huddle in the middle of the barn floor listening to a wind howl like a freight train as the rain and hail swirled around her (picture Dorothy in Kansas before she lands in Oz).  Meanwhile I had gotten back to our crates and leashed up Spice and Grace.  I opened to door to leave the arena headed to the SUV just as the fury began - I turned around and recrated the girls because going outside was not an option.

arena widow view during storm
 no visibility
The microburst/tornado storm was horrid for about 5-10 minutes and then it calmed down.  During the storm the power went out in the arena for a minute or so until the emergency power kicked on.  The arena grounds suffered numerous broken limbs and snapped tree trunks.After the worst of the storm, Tracey made it the rest of the way to the SUV and stowed the dogs.  Then she called me to tell me what had happened.  We regrouped and began leashing the remaining 5 dogs to be loaded in the SUV.  Before we had made it out the arena door the arena manager was notified there was another worse wave of weather moving in so the folks still in the arena were lined up on the arena floor away from the windows. Since we were between locations we finished loading up the dogs in the SUV.  Tracey and I kept ourselves and the dogs in the SUV during the next second downpour which was only a rainstorm with no additional tornado-type winds.  We stayed parked under the concrete and steel barn figuring we would likely be safe in that type structure.

Storm Damage Near Arena

Walking to the barn after the storm
Painted skies and rainbows followed the storm.
Immediately following the storm, the arena grounds crew was clearing the trees off the main road and assisting folks in the trailer park who need assistance with their trailers.  No injuries to handlers or dogs but a few of the trailers were spun or moved by the wind.  By nightfall order was restored in the RV park with the exception of folks locating trash cans, dog toys, and other small items that had blow against the downwind fence.  The following morning the ground crew began clearing sidewalks of storm litter and removing broken limbs.  During the storm the trash bucket for the dog poop bags that was near the arena doors had blown across the grounds scattering poop bags as it went.  Tracey and I picked up the scattered poop bags and moved the trash can back where it belonged.  By midday Friday the storm debris was removed and our trip home was uneventful.   

storm trail of poop bags

Arena grounds crew hard at work the morning after the storm