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Finish Forward Dogs Weight Pull Fun Match
The competitive pull which followed is based on UKC rules. We are hoping that a newly formed club will soon be able to offer sanctioned UKC weight pull trials in the area. These fun pulls in Maine have been proving a local interest in the sport and are establishing a base of competitors, so things are looking promising. It has been a long time since I've seen any trials offered in New England, and the few that I've seen in the past were often far away and rarely had a "great" venue. I would be so excited to see a UKC weight pull trial offered at a wonderful facility like Finish Forward Dogs. Here's hoping! Maybe one of these days we will actually get to finish Tripp's UWP title! And who knows, maybe more...
I never considered going beyond level one title into championship competition. It requires so much more from the dog, as far as amount of weight pulled. I figured Tripp's winter performance this year was a fluke; surely he wouldn't pull over a thousand pounds again - I probably wouldn't even let him try. So much for that - Tripp gave a repeat performance, pulling the same 1040 lbs. with very little trouble! No consequences followed. In fact, I swear his gait improves after doing weight pull.
Once again I paid no attention to the amount of weight he was pulling; rather, I watched his behavior and physical response. He actually did better this time, physically - while he was also fine after our previous match, and still working eagerly, he was obviously tired and muscles maxed out. However even after our last pull at this weekend's match, his muscles were nice and loose and remained so. Of course I cooled him down well and massaged him throughout the day. I'm sure he could've pulled more, but I wanted to end on a positive note. He was just a tad slower on the final pull, and worked hard to finish, so I was not going to push it. There was no reason to continue anyway, as he was the "last dog standing" so to speak - he took 1st place with that final pull, hauling 20 times his body weight. Incredible! That would've been worth 10 championship points if I understand the rulebook correctly. If he continues this trend I might consider aiming for UWPCH... although that is still a lofty goal, with so few trialing opportunities.
Regardless of any titling possibilities, we will continue doing weight pull as long as we can. Even if it's only in the backyard and once or twice a year at this fantastic FUN match. :-)
The event was nice - several vendors, including a fellow creative groomer who I got to chat with for quite a while, and of course several other local businesses and lots of rescue groups. Tripp as usual enjoyed meeting everyone and soaked up all the admiration directed his way (both at the event and even more later at a rest stop)! The dog park (MDOG) looked very interesting, complete with swimming pool (we didn't go in the park, just glanced from afar) and I was proud of Tripp - he did really well with most of the dogs that greeted him - even the males! I don't think his obsessiveness over dogs will ever decrease, but I'll take less machoism any time.
There was a handful of other training demonstrations at the festival, as well as fun pet contests throughout the day. We performed our group routine with the PomPoms, and then our solo act. I made some recent tweaks to it - mostly to reduce the excess jumping - so lots of new stuff in there. Also a good charge of winging it, as I forgot some of my intended changes, LOL. Plus there were inevitable moments of distraction. But that's one nice thing about freestyle - only you know what the routine is, so if you mess up most people don't know the difference (well, except when the dog just stands there staring at other dogs outside the ring, haha). Overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out. Still needs work, but it's getting there. :-)
Unfortunately I did not get video of the Poms (though someone else did - I will add it here if/when she gets it on youtube), but Robin (our other Parti Poodle dancer) filmed Tripp & I in the ring. So glad, as when we were out there I thought we did much worse than we look upon playback. Of course, I usually feel that way - Miss Perfectionist. LOL
Pardon the sound - it was very windy!
p.s. A nice incentive that I learned about after the fact was that the event was sponsoring our demos by offering a donation to WCFO, the freestyle organization which Tripp is titled in. That made the trip even more worthwhile. :-)
The heat was already bearing down when we arrived at the show at 8 am. I packed a spray bottle of water to mist Tripp's coat to help cool him down (a trick I learned at agility trials), and seemed to use it almost continually throughout the day on Saturday. I even misted myself a few times! The judges were well aware of how hard the weather would be on the performing dogs, so I do wonder if they went easy on the scoring just a bit. As Tripp and I navigated the course I ticked off in my mind all the single point faults he might've deserved. Lots of positioning imperfections, although I must remember that while precision obedience is what I want, it is not required in rally. Still, AKC judges are usually a bit stricter - I joke that they must've stolen this one from UKC. LOL Perhaps the nitpicking was all in my head - he does indeed look better on video than I remember it - but I was not imagining the need to keep on him constantly to stay in position, esp. at the jump. It took all his willpower not to go into agility mode, and that does show in the video. I seriously thought I was going to lose him there, but he came back to heel when called and I'm very proud - we worked hard on that. Even a couple times later in the course it felt like he wanted to take off. But of course as always his charisma outshines the minor faults, so he looks good regardless. ;-)
I still don't know how, but we managed to score a 98!! I really expected lower 90s, at least. Not that I cared about score for once - I just wanted a Q and to finish that RA title that has eluded us for so long. But I certainly am not complaining. I was very happily surprised to get a 98, along with first place, which came with a $15 cash prize! I've said it before and I'll say it again - now that's the way to earn a title!
It wasn't until noon that our freestyle demos began. Oh boy, was it hot by then! Apparently somebody at the show had already collasped and I saw them being hauled away to an ambulance! Needless to say, we spent lots of time in the shade, taking it easy, with lots of water for everyone. I even bought one of those cooling neck ties that you soak in water for Tripp to wear (I figured any little bit helps). No, I don't think I'm capable of taking him to a show without buying him something. Believe me, I spent far more than that $15 prize on the neckerchief and a bunch of treats. Oh well, he's worth it.... and it was all stuff we were in need of. Well, ok, so maybe he didn't need another antler to chew on, but everything else was a practical purchase, really. ;-)
I can't say everything went smoothly with the freestyle performances, but we got through them without melting and the crowd was pleased, so that's the important thing. For some reason the sound system didn't play the music well - the base notes came through but the lyrics were barely audible. Unfortunately this caused us to miss most of our cues in the Poms' group performance. We even thought it was the wrong music at first as it sounded so different without the words coming through - I swore it sounded like "oompa" music. LOL We tried adjusting the volume, but it was the same even with my solo performance which followed the Poms - however I know the song well enough that I could hit most of the cues. (I actually rarely practice with the music at home.)
The dogs of course all moved at a slower pace... but for that matter I think we humans did too! But we are all very proud of our canine companions for performing for us at all in that heat. What good dogs. Tripp was extra tired after an already busy day, but agility nut that he is, he was still happy to jump over my head in our solo perfomance. Although you'll notice his groundwork is much less enthusiastic. At least we finished the whole thing this time. ;-) He crashed out after that, but was up and at 'em the next morning and ready for Sunday's events...
Tripp & I debuted our new routine to "Jump" by Van Halen. Well, most of it. Admittedly, it is very new, and we had practically no rehersal of the entire thing to music - just been piecing together the moves. So considering everything, I guess we didn't do too badly. Unfortunately, near the end, he flew over my head (right) then flew out of the ring (wrong). At least I learned not to aim him at the exit for that move! LOL But it was all over after that. Distractions abounded, and my patience dwindled. He continued to ignore me after I finally got him back in the ring, so I had to remove him. At least it was almost over, but I was bummed that we didn't get to finish properly. I am just thankful that the rest of the routine was impressive enough that people seem to remember that, and not the frustrated handler giving up and walking out. Hey, I'm only human.
Hopefully, we will do better next time. We have less than a month to practice (and a very busy schedule) so I'm not expecting perfection... but it'd be nice to at least finish it. ;-) Next demo also coincides with an AKC rally trial, so crossing fingers that Tripp has better focus!!
The PomPoms also performed as the grand finale. Again, with little practice together, and a brand new member, I must say we pulled it off pretty decently!
There were several photographers snapping pictures of everyone, obviously a talented bunch both in and out of the ring - they captured many beautiful shots of each team. Here are a few favorites of "Team TnT". (Click the pic for larger view and info.)
Oct 8 & 9 brought the WCFO regional trials to Amherst. I entered our TNT routine both days. Never did I expect we would do so well. Practice paid off, and Tripp performed better than ever. We got amazing feedback from everyone; of course Mr. Flashy Poodle impressed everybody! The judges gave some great reviews on our detailed score sheets with tips for future training. Day one we earned 1st place and a special award by the WCFO founder for Outstanding Routine. Day two gave us 2nd place and another special award for High Scoring Beginners Routine. :-) We also earned our Freestyle Dog title. Requirements increase as you move up in levels, so future trials should be interesting! I already have a couple new routines in mind...
As proud as I was of Tripp for doing so well in the ring, I was made equally proud out of the ring... being a young intact male, he's developed some sociability issues with dogs. I am not at all happy with his usual behavior towards other males, but I know it's the hormones talking. And he's always been a bit of a bully. Yes, Tripp! Most people wouldn't believe that. It's true. Nobody's perfect! So on Sat. we headed out to AK9C's "dog park" for some playtime after the trial. Near the end of our visit a family entered with 2 kids and 2 male dogs. I got Tripp close to me just in case. Their young Pittie mix bounded over to say hi. Tripp gave a little growl, but the pup made it very clear he just wanted to play. The boys took off running and I was so happy to see Tripp make a guy buddy! They chased each other around, getting insanely messy in the mud, having a grand old time. Tripp politely ignored the smaller old dog, and didn't worry about the kids. The resulting cleanup was worth it to see him socialize so well. (Although I found a number of ticks after, so we probably won't be visiting the park again.) Then on Sun. he played briefly with an older male Golden, even accepting play mouthing from him, and not growling once. I'm still overjoyed that my baby made new friends. I really am just as proud of that as all the awards we won that weekend! :-)
We were invited to perform a musical freestyle demonstration. The PomPoms got together for our group routine, and "Team TnT" offered our singles routine. It was super fun, and a great opportunity to practice for upcoming competitions. My first lesson was not to overdo the warmup! I should've taken video of that - Tripp was lovely. But by the time we were called to give our demo, Tripp was a bit bored. "What, more dancing?" LOL So he was less rock & roll today. At least I learned something for the future!
We also did an APDT Rally demo. Like I always say, I'll take free run-thrus anytime! Agility was on our to-do list as well, but unfortunately between everything else I missed that demo. Too bad, I was looking forward to that the most. But the trainer was kind enough to let us play on the course after the show, so we still got in some practice. :-)
It was quite an event outside the rings... lots of vendors, contests, and other goings on. Fun for everyone. A great turnout for the shelter. I'm so glad we could be a part of it.
Poodles spinning pirouettes,
performing heelwork to music,
(people dancing with their pets).
We joined in the PomPoms,
our all-Poodle team,
for musical freestyle
and great fun, it would seem.
With dogs fluffed and primped,
and on necks a pink sash,
pink barets on our heads,
and scarves that didn't clash,
we all looked divine
and knew that somehow
our performance would be
one that'd make the crowd "wow!"
With can-cans and spins
and a kiss on the nose,
we danced 'round the ring
on the tips of our toes.
I admit now and then
the beat may have been lost
and some pups got distracted
but at what little cost?
We may not have been perfect,
but by the time we were done
everybody was smiling,
because what matters is fun!
She also asked for some video of Tripp showing off his tricks. I've never made a list of everything he can do, so it's sometimes hard to spontateously come up with an impressive montage of behaviors! LOL
The demo in MA went well. It was a very nice, farmer's market/family day type outing. A small crowd gathered around for our two performances. Other freestylers put on shows as well. We all had so much fun, and looked forward to our next gig.
Just a few weeks later on Aug. 6, the PomPoms attended Cumberlandfest, a large fair in RI. It was an awesome venue with a larger audience. With nary a rehersal, the team breezed through our routine. Perhaps we fumbled a bit, but it was still a blast and the spectators were happy, so that's all that counts. ;-)
Tripp and I also debuted our singles routine to TNT by AC/DC. It was an exciting opportunity to perform at this event, and great practice for future demos. We will be entering in the fall WCFO freestyle trials as well, so just as with any other sport, I will take all the "run thrus" I can get! It wasn't perfection (as expected our first time out), but again, lots of fun, and the audience was impressed. With a couple tweaks and some more practice, Team TnT is really going to rock!