I know, I'm weird. Most people dream of visiting some tropical island somewhere... me, I've always wanted to go to Canada. After 30-something years, that dream has finally come true. I can't quite cross it entirely off my bucket list, however, as I was too busy with a dog show to actually see any sights. Well darn, I guess I'll just have to go back... ;-)
Northeastern weather even in mid-April, though usually nice, can still bring stubborn remanents of winter. Lucky us, Mother Nature decided to bring sleet & snow on our departure day. We hesitantly ventured forward anyway, and though the drive was slow, we made it to Quebec safely.
A fairly new club, the Association Canine Canadienne Multisports, hosted a weekend UKC dog show in Sherbrooke - just over the border, a little more than 3 hours from here (in good weather) - which included Conformation, Rally Obedience, AND Weight Pull! Official WP trials have been scarce enough lately, but to find a show that holds more than one performance event is rare, esp. in this area. I could not pass up the opportunity to attend.
Saturday we started with WP under judge Robin Clark, who was wonderful. And I'm not just saying that because she later commented that Tripp was the best dog there! (There were other good pullers, but Tripp really gets in the zone.) I planned to do minimal pulls - just enough to qualify - since we had a very full weekend and Tripp is not quite back to top condition yet. I was ready to quit at 560 lbs (one pull more than we needed to Q), but everyone begged us to continue since he was pulling easily and in excellent form, plus they wanted to show off this great sport for the audience, as well as prove the versatility of the Poodle breed. I completely agreed with those points and, after making sure Tripp was indeed good to go, continued on with one more pull. We ended at 700 lbs. - over 13 times his body weight.
From there we went on to prepare for conformation. Mary King was our judge, and we had some nice competition; just a few puppies - Tripp was the only CH entered, but at least he wasn't the only Poodle, and the others were lovely. It was anyone's game out there. Though we didn't win today, Ms. King gave us a wonderful critique - actually apologizing profusely for not placing us! She absolutely adored Tripp, but due to his curled tail which is considered a "major fault" in the standard (despite being mainly cosmetic), she had to go by the book and put up the less faulted dog. Well gee, I certainly understand that! I had to tell her several times not to feel bad - I was actually thrilled for our opponant, as this was her very first show with practically no experience and a young dog - what a fantastic introduction for her! It's always more satisfying to beat competition, and not get what I call a default win. She went on to earn a group placement as well! I'm so happy for her. And I was just excited to be back in the show ring (after what? 2-3 years?) with Tripp looking awesome out there, and such great feedback from the judge topped it off.
Sunday was our busiest day, with Rally added to the schedule. Once again WP was our first activity. Tripp remained in near perfect form, with plenty of enthusiasm, but we stopped at 560 lbs today to conserve energy. This was more than enough weight for another Q, which finally completed Tripp's UWP title! It was a long wait for that one, as he'd earned his first leg when he was just over a year old! (To think back then I thought putting more than 500 lbs behind my dog was unimaginable. Ha! And now that's barely an effort for him. Mr. Tough Guy. This amazing Poodle continues to prove that it's all about attitude and condition.)
We continued on to Rally, with Mary King judging this as well. It wasn't the best start. In Trial 1, level 2, I somehow managed to miss a sign even during walkthroughs. Too focused on my dog (even the invisible one) I blew right passed a sign on my right shortly after an about turn. Hmm, well that explains why there was such a big gap of nothingness there! LOL I sure kicked myself for that one. Tripp did well, this one was all me. So NQ, which automatically gave us one less opportunity for a leg towards his Excellent title (which requires 10 double Qs in level 2 & 3 in the same trial).
Level 3 went better for the most part. At least we did everything we were supposed to! Tripp had several imperfections due to distractions - did I mention this show was held in conjunction with a BIG animal expo, with hundreds (thousands?) of people, tons of noise, pony rides, and kiddy bounce houses all just outside the rings. Not to mention the show photographer set up literally next to the Rally ring, intermittently squeeking toys during a shoot, and of course all the smells of cats, birds, reptiles, etc. along with the other show dogs being groomed nearby! Thank God they set up the Agility and Frisbee dogs on the opposite side of the convention center!!! Despite all this, Tripp managed to pull off a score of 97, only being docked for excessive sniffing during the honor down stay. Truthfully, he was totally obsessing and crept way out of position, so that score was very generous!
Improvement continued in Trial 2, level 2. While Tripp still was not as accurate as I prefer, he did do a great job considering the environment on top of not having much recent practice in the sport. Amazingly we earned a perfect score of 100. This brought us to just ONE point away from Rally Championship! So close!
By level 3, our final competition, we were both pretty tired! My feet were ready to fall off. Tripp still did wonderfully and finished with a 99. That made his UROC title! Yippee!!! It also gave us a QQ, bringing us halfway to URX. We will continue on to that goal.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, we entered conformation too, under judge Tina Camp. Another great, fair, helpful judge. Once again we got a wonderful critique after ring time, and she just loved Trippy (who did a good job sucking up to her, hehehe.) This time, much to my surprise, we won Best of Breed! Tripp moved very well and that was the deciding factor. (She "could care less" about his tail. ;-) We didn't get anything in Group, but our Breed win qualified us for the coveted Total Dog award!! This will be Tripp's second Total Dog, which is earned by a conformation win plus a qualifying score in performance within the same show/trial.
I have but one regret for the weekend... I forgot to have an official photo taken! How could I? (Exhaustion, that's how. ;-) I was a little bummed that the club didn't offer new title ribbons, but a picture with the judges and Tripp's prizes would've made up for that somewhat. Posing alone at home just isn't the same. Oh, I still got a nice pic of course, but I do kick myself for not capturing that moment IN the moment. Oh well. C'est la vie!