Trials, Tribulations, and Celebrations (without cake)

Trialing the weekend before this last was…intense.

Exhaustion and fried nerves/cracked tooth are not a good recipe for a focused handler; the dogs did well, but it was in spite of me.

Connery finished his just-started Novice FAST title (the third of three legs in a row) and earned two of his three Open legs.  Belle blew through three critical Double Qs toward her PAX2, with one left to complete.  We ended up with 13/15 possible Qs (did I say, in spite of me?).

Here is their ribbon loot!  Because Ellie Beagle asked for it.


Connery and Belle with the previous weekend's Ribbon Loot. Belle sports a charmingly scabby nose from her lizard-hunting activities.

A word about Belle and this whole PAX thing. A PAX requires 20 QQs (double Q = qualifying in standard and jumpers on the same day), and is the most prestigious title available to a dog running in Belle’s classes.  (Why a PAX and not a MACH such as Connery earns?  That’s a blog in of itself…)

Of all the trials I’ve attended in the past eight years, I’ve only personally seen one PAX  completed.  Sort of.  Because it was two years ago…and it was us!   This is in contrast to MACHs–because in this area of talented people, MACHs do happen.  In fact, two wonderful handler-dog teams earned their first MACHs at last weekend’s trial.  W00t!

(This means lots of cake! Around here, earn a MACH (or PAX), and bring a cake to the trial the next day!)

A word about Belle.

At age five, Belle was partially paralyzed with a disk condition unrelated to agility–inflammation severe enough that the swelling compressed her spinal cord.

I was told she wouldn’t run agility again.

But it was agility that saved her, because daily training meant I saw the trouble signs early, and her strength protected her back through the following days.  Massage, supplements, trial and error, careful reintroduction of activity after 6 weeks of complete crate rest…

Six months later, she did run again. And although the ongoing condition flared every 5-6 months, starting the whole cycle over again, and though she’s weak in her right hind, she kept running.  A reduced schedule, oft-interrupted by extended periods of down-time, meant that opportunities to build Qs were scarce, in an area where the nearest trial was three hours away and opportunities were already scarce.

She had a very, very long road to that first PAX.

But now only two years later, her retirement crowds close, a score of QQ opportunities lost to the side trip to her Excellent FAST title–and her confidence now shattered due to…???  Moving twice in a year?  Jean-Luc’s decline?  Encroaching age issues?  It’s hard to say.  She’s a sweet, soft-hearted dog, and she blames herself for things in her life that can’t possibly be her fault.

So I really didn’t know if she would make it to that PAX2. Or if I should simply retire her, accepting this change as age-related and permanent.  But I  kept trying to find her happies again.

So, then, you remember last weekend? She started giggling again!  Three QQs in quick succession! And wow!  Suddenly the PAX2 was in sight!

And so here we are with this past weekend’s report:


  • Meet up with fellow Backlist Ebook-er & dog lover Julie Ortolon, who traveled into the city for a Real Life Hello!
  • D’Artagnan Beagle: “I am getting the hang of this whole trial site experience!”
  • ConneryBeagle: QQ #20 for his MACH2 (and a slew of speed points left to earn)!
  • ConneryBeagle:  Open FAST Title! Move up to Excellent for Sunday!
  • Belle Cardigan:  YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!
  • Belle Cardigan:  QQ#20!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Belle Cardigan:  PAX2!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(insert victory lap, PAX Pole, hugs, squeals, cheers, fun!)

I wish I could say this stupendous day ended idyllically. What I can say is that friends tried to help us jump the van and Triple AAA finally used their superwhooper jumping system to get it started but the battery-selling folks said, “Wasn’t the battery” and we managed to borrow a vehicle for the next day and to tear down our shade shelter to accommodate diminished packing space and to brainstorm ways we could keep the dogs if not ourselves in the shade the next hot hot day and arrange for the van to make it into a shop.

But hey, then we had a Sunday:

  • No cake for the celebration due to the car misadventures.  I assure everyone that it would have been REALLY GOOD CAKE.
  • D’Artagnan Beagle:  “I still measure under 14” and I am a GOOD BOY practicing my trial manners.”
  • ConneryBeagle:  Another QQ! And a hugely intimidating first Excellent FAST course conquered with such heroic effort on his part that I partied him as if we’d just won nationals!
  • Belle Cardigan:  Runs her very last Standard course EVER.  Qs.  Runs a gleeful jumpers course and says she would like to continue with Jumpers classes for a while yet.
  • Belle Cardigan: Goes into Standard Course retirement on the very first QQ for a never-to-be-earned PAX3.
  • Borrowed vehicle: cleaned and returned.
  • Weekend Q tally: 10 of 10.  Combined weekend tallies: 23 of 25 Qs. (In spite of handler, did I say?)

DogMom:  Hugs dogs and cries at their wonderfulness.

Connery's Start Line Song


PAX2 Show-Off Shot

Cheysuli's Silver Belle, CD RE PAX2 MXP5 MJP4 XFP EAC EJC CGC: PAX ribbon and bar and dog (slightly less scabby nose this week) and handler and judge Tim Pinneri

Belle's Victory Lap

This is Belle's Victory Lap--and such a bounce in her stride! How proud her neck! Good dog!

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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10 Responses to Trials, Tribulations, and Celebrations (without cake)

  1. Librarian D.O.A. says:

    What great dogs you have! I must get my beagles trained!

    • Doranna says:

      I love working with Connery and now Dart (who is an entirely different character in spite of their underlying similiarities). I hope you get the chance to play with yours!

  2. Leonore says:


    WAHOO Bella-belle, congratulations on a hard-won title. WELL DONE!!!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I love the joy in Connery’s and Belle’s faces…that eagerness, that pride, that glee. And in yours as well, for the pups that gave you everything you asked and more.

    Waving banners and so on were going on virtually, though not visibly, from here.

  4. Doranna says:


    Thank you! You sure understand the important bits. I’m pretty much marinating in happies for their eagerness and pride in it all. 8)

  5. Ellie the Beagle says:

    Pawsome job Belle Cardigan! And Connery Beagle too! Thanks so much for sharing the pictures! That’s a LOT of ribbons. I’m not sure what all of that means, but I understand that you are VERY good. Yay!

    • Doranna says:

      Ellie the Beagle! Yay!

      I collect those ribbons in big boxes and one day I’d love to have a quilt made, or a ribbon banner, or pillows, or… 8) It seems silly, but they represent a whole lot of special times with the dogs…

  6. BlogPatty says:

    Very exciting!

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