Yesterday we entered two trials at the American Eskimo Dog Club of New England's UKC Show & Rally Obedience in Westfield, MA. Forecasts threatened rain, but as usual the weekend turned out lovely, if a bit warm. I'll take the heat over working in a downpour, although I did end up a bit sunburned. ;-)
Tripp was slightly distracted and I would've preferred a tighter heel position, but overall he was great, esp. considering we were both a little rusty after so many months out of the sport. The judge, Peg Munves, gave me a wonderful compliment on my handling. She's also completely infatuated with Tripp (well, who can blame her?) LOL I say she went too easy on us in scoring, but then, Rally isn't as much about absolute perfection like traditional obedience - it is also about the dog-handler relationship, and working well as a team.
This was our first time in the advanced class; RO level 2. Once again we were the only ones in A division (for untitled dogs or "new" handlers) - seems most handlers in UKC are in B. So of course we took First Place by default.
Trial 1, we finished with a perfect score of 100. I was in disbelief. Our performance certainly was not perfect. But the judge said it was because of my handling, working Tripp through the course so well. Wow. I still think it's because he's just so darn flashy out there, he simply makes me look good. LOL Oh but that perfect 100 wasn't the end of it. At the end of the trial, they take the best scoring team with the fastest time out of all levels and divisions and award them a special High in Trial ribbon and prize. Can you believe it, we won! Our first HIT! :-) And our first leg towards URO2.
The proud moments don't end there. Trial two, we finished with a score of 99, and another HIT! That was just incredible; I didn't expect it with an imperfect score. And there were at least a dozen entries in both trials, so we were up against some good competition. Another leg towards our advanced title, just one more to go. I expect to finish this fall at the Marshland trials.
What? That's not all? Oh no, we did even more! :-) In level 3, there is an "honor dog" - one team performs a down stay in the corner of the ring while another team does the rally course. Each competitor in that level must act as honor dog once. If there is an odd number, then a stand in honor dog must be brought in. After our final trial, the judged asked how Tripp's down stay was. (It's strong.) As there was only one entry in RO3 in trial 2, they needed an honor dog as well as someone to run the course while the competitor performed the honor exercise. In other words we get to have a free run through. Well, she didn't have to ask me twice! She even offered to score and time us as if we were competing. Heck yeah! I was somewhat less impressed with Tripp's distracted performance and commented that "I'm glad this doesn't count" but incredulously we still would've managed to score 98 with a fast time. To quote the timer, we "flew through that course." It was great practice and I swear rally gets more fun the higher you go. Can't wait for the next trial, and looking forward to moving up in levels.