Does your idea of the perfect Road Trip include you and your dog, 4000 miles in 10 days, and a National Agility Competition?

TCOTC Agility Instructor Katie Brittan and her 6-year-old Miniature Schnauzer Rico hit the road last month to participate in the 2017 CPE (Canine Performance Events, Inc.)  Nationals in Elk Grove, Calif. They joined approximately 250 other dogs and their handlers for a 4-day Agility Competition.

Despite the long drive, Katie didn’t hesitate to enter the competition. “I am hooked on this event. The courses are challenging and top competitors are there. It is extremely well run and very rewarding including gift bags for each competitor.”

To get to California from the Twin Cities, Katie and Rico enjoyed three days of 10-12 hours of behind the wheel each day. Katie says that she did “most” of the driving. She and Rico made stops every 3 hours or so to refresh and stayed at pet friendly motels at night.

The trial was held in outdoor rings full of critter scents and an indoor barn with bats in the rafters! Fortunately the first day was devoted to practice runs, so by the time the actual competition took place, Katie and Rico were no longer distracted by the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded them.

The trial included 3 types of events: Standard Courses, Short Courses, and Games such as Jackpot and Snooker, where the handler can choose their own course and is rewarded for ability to handle the dog from distance. “Some of the courses were incredibly challenging but always fun,” says Katie.

As you can see from their show ribbons and plaque, Katie and Rico were successful competitors. They “qualified” in six out of their nine runs, received their third CPE agility trial championship (C-ATCH3) in the Snooker class and 6th Place overall in Enthusiast Games!

But it was the overall experience that they enjoyed the most. They connected with other folks from Minnesota and made new friends, including Rico’s bestie, a PUG! “Rico liked meeting new dogs, relaxing in his tent and staying in motels,” says Katie. “He gets his favorite squeaky toy for 15 minutes whenever we arrive at a motel so he warms up to the environment; it goes away before any guests complain.”

The greatest challenge of the trip was dealing with weather conditions which ranged from a chilly 40 degrees and snow in Utah, to a sweltering 100 degrees in the shade in California. But Katie was prepared. She packed warm jackets and blankets for each, as well as a Cooling Coat for Rico and a shade tent and fan. She also carries a full cooler in the car at all times with fresh water and ice, and plenty of food and snacks.

Katie has some tips for others considering a road trip with their dog. For one, when in high altitudes and/or hot temperatures, add some chicken baby food to your dog’s water to encourage them drink enough to keep hydrated. Yum?!

Katie also relied on mobile apps to find places for her and Rico to stop. “Smart phones have made me more confident the road with my dogs,” she says. “While I try to make motel reservations in advance, it is great to be able to instantly identify nearby pet friendly spots when we are ready to stop. While it is tempting at dinnertime, I do not recommend leaving a dog alone in a motel or hotel room.”