Certainly I have not stepped up our practice time to where it should be, but we have been working at least a little bit more on obedience stuff. Of course there is always the argument too that you shouldn't over-train... Do just enough to get it right and move on. Sure, let's say that's what I'm doing. ;-) LOL But while we still need some cleaning up, and definitely more practice away from home, I think we're doing slightly better than last year, so I'm at least not totally shooting myself in the foot when we enter a trial. Well, it's worth a shot anyhow...
Today I entered the UKC trial in Westford, MA. Just the morning trial. It was a very small group, nice and relaxed - Tripp hung out ringside with me, had breakfast, got in some practice, and being second in the ring, we were in and out of there in record time.
I'm glad I chose this event. It was my original intention to enter, but then I found out a CDSP trial was also on that day. Oh, decisions decisions! It was quite the tossup. I bounced the dilemma off my dog friends, and while I kinda leaned in UKC's direction from the beginning, I just wished I knew for sure where our better odds lay. Duh. I forgot my dowsing abilities. LOL (Yes, I do that. Did you know you can dowse for more than water? It's a useful tool for just about anything. Yes it's weird - did I ever say I was normal? - but I usually have pretty good accuracy in dowsing our potential show results. When I do it right. ;-)
So I pulled out my tools and asked what we should do - what were our chances? The answers were NQ in either CDSP trial, and in UKC a Q in trial one but an NQ in trial 2 due to stress. Obviously there is no way to prove any of that, but I'm not going to argue. If I'm going to get deeper into this methodology (I'm going pro people!), then I need to embrace the unknown and trust the results, and my intuition. So I went along with it.
And I can't say it didn't pay off! We did indeed Q in trial one with a decent 188.5. Tripp did so well, for the first time I actually wouldn't have been shocked if our score was higher! But he was by no means perfect - a few points here and there for position, a couple for "mouthing" the glove (tossing it around because he's silly and having fun) - but he kept his focus most of the time, which has been our main downfall lately, and did everything right, even if not with absolute accuracy, so I am thrilled with his performance! My only disappointment is that I forgot to throw my camera at someone. Darn it, I never seem to get our best runs on video! LOL Oh well, we earned that second leg in any case. :-)
Do I regret not going for trial 2 just in case, to finish his title? Maybe part of me does. After all, neither one of us was stressed, and on the surface our chances seemed pretty good at this intimate trial. But who knows what could change? There was a dog there that Tripp was mildly obsessing over. He behaved himself and (sorta) refocused on me when asked, but how am I to know if his mood would change in a couple hours? Or if a bigger crowd would show up for the afternoon trial. There could be some sort of incident between ring times. Or something else to cause potential stress or distraction. Even just getting bored waiting around for our next turn could kill his performance. So I say, just as in training, we were best to quit while we're ahead. Leave us both with a good memory, and go for title on another day. If nothing else, I saved some money! ;-) And we had fun. And that's the most important thing.
Last Sunday Tripp & I took a small break from our break, and entered UDSNNE's UKC Obedience trials in Saco, hoping to knock off one more title before hibernating for the season. (Hey, I did say SEMI-retirement. ;-) He had just one leg left to get his Open title, and I entered both trials just in case. It was a small turnout, which worked in our favor, presenting a quieter atmosphere with less opportunity for Tripp to get distracted. It didn't much help my rusty handling skills, mind you, and half of the points we lost were handler errors. LOL But we got lucky and managed to Q in trial one, finishing Tripp's UCDX title with a 183. Could be worse!
In anticipation (or at least hope) of moving up to Utility in trial two, I had packed the necessary articles, and done a little practice at home. I didn't expect a lot, but it was worth a shot. In nearly every other exercise I swore we had NQed, but amazingly we didn't. Somehow we made it through with a 188.5 for his first UUD leg!
The judge did go easy on a few of my rookie mistakes, but I certainly can't expect that again. If we do get back into Utility next year - and you know I'm gonna want to finish that title now - we both need to get back on our game before diving in again.
But for now, it's time to rest, enjoy the holiday season, and hunker down for the winter. Until next spring... Then, we'll see. ;-)
I guess it's official. Tripp has delved into the realm of semi-retirement. Not that he doesn't deserve a break after all that he's done and accomplished so far in his six years.
I had every intention of focusing on going further in Obedience this year. Unfortunately I've had neither the time nor, frankly, the motivation to commit to enough training to give us a fair shake in the upper levels. I've just had bigger priorities, on top of a slammed work schedule. What can I say? Life happens!
Oh, I tried to half-ass it as we often do in the ring, but that just doesn't cut it in Utility. After a few miserable failures, and several (serendipitous?) missed entry dates, I have finally given up. This just isn't our year. There are one or two trials I may enter later in the fall (at least to finish his UCDX), but I think it's best we take a break from Utility until I can find more practice time to get us to a more competent level. Hopefully things will turn around in 2016 so Tripp can get a few more brags under his belt before he has to really retire! ;-) If not, well... we had a good run.
However I really don't foresee complete abandonment of dog sports for Tripp or myself. Even if we fizzle out in Obedience before reaching that championship dream, there are other less demanding events we can get into (or return to). Just a matter of finding the time and opportunity. And if I do eventually get that next show dog (still a ways away, folks!) I will obviously remain active in one ring or another. Until then, Tripp's still got plenty of juice left in him. :-)
Over winter break (between what seemed like weekly blizzards), Tripp & I worked on further advancing in Obedience, preparing for our next season of trials. I finally ordered a set of official scent articles, which came just in time for Christmas. At last we could get "serious" with training for Utility, the highest level in Obedience. For so long I had denied any desire to compete in Utility, but everyone was right - it really is a ton of fun! I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say it's the most fun level, as I enjoy them all; but it definitely is a blast, and an exciting challenge. I'm also looking forward to eventually competing in AKC's new Versatility class which takes exercises from all 3 levels, mixing it up each time. That should be really interesting. Not quite ready for that yet, but we'll get there!
First up: our debut in CDSP Utility on Apr. 4. (Yes, I'm behind on updating... so what's new? ;-)
As I said, I never intended to compete in UKC Obedience, since it would only give Tripp a redundant CD title, after which we would not continue (we won't do the Open 3 min. sit, and UKC does not currently offer the variety of classes AKC does), so why bother? But when the UDSNNE show came, I figured why not? One more title never hurts! And that first entry paid off with a Total Dog Award, so I'm glad I went for it.
A couple weeks later we entered one more day of Obed. at the Marshland trials in Saco, hoping for a quick finish to that Novice title. Tripp did not disappoint. :-) Not only did he earn his UCD title, along the way he won TWO High In Trials! (I think that's his first in Obed., all his others being from Rally. But who can keep up at this point? LOL) Now, before you get too excited about that double HIT, you should realize that it was a very small show. However, among the handful of competitors, there was a rather low passing rate, so I would say those HITs are still worthy of some pride. After all, Tripp did well enough to qualify with a 191 & 190.5, better than the few other qualifiers. It may not be a really big deal (compared to wins at larger events), but it's certainly a nice way to finish a title!
The newest UKC club in our region, United Dog Sports of Northern New England, held it's fabulous inaugural event this Sept. in Scarborough, ME at Wassamki Springs. It was a wonderful turnout and a lovely venue to boot. UDSNNE offered Conformation shows, as well as both Rally & Obedience over the weekend.
I had a seminar planned that was cancelled, so I decided to do a day of show entry on Sunday. I never intended to get into UKC Obedience, but I figured what the heck. Go for one more title, and if we're lucky, Total Dog while we're at it. And of course it's good practice for our other trials. Plus entering conformation now and then let's me put to use what I've learned in workshops, etc. Well... at least TRY to. LOL If nothing else it keeps my handling "skills" from getting totally rusty!
AKC Obedience Trials, Aug. 30-31
Merrimack Valley Kennel Club
Judges: Lynda Moore (Sat. Graduate Novice, Sun. Pre-Open)
Linda Ferrullo (Sat. Pre-Open)
James Ashton (Sun. Graduate Novice)
This appears to be our new Labor Day weekend tradition - Obedience trials in Amherst. Well, you can't pick the show dates, you gotta take what they give you. Not that I mind one bit, of course... as if there's something better to do over a holiday? ;-)
Saturday Tripp did wonderfully. I wish the battery in my camera had held out, unfortunately I only got part of his first ring time and missed the rest. But you can see how well he did - not absolutely perfect, but upbeat, relatively attentive, and only a few of his typical minor positioning faults. He was like that all day! :-) What a bummer when he NQed in Grad. Nov. during the dumbbell recall. But how funny too - he sneezed the dumbbell out! It was just a little sneeze, but enough to make him drop the bell... poor boy wasn't sure what to do, so he continued coming to front as I had told him. Well, it wasn't a bad choice on his part. It wouldn't have made any difference anyway if he had picked up the bell and finished the retrieve, we still wouldn't have qualified. Oh well. Stuff happens, and it was pretty darn cute I must say! Every other exercise in the class was done beautifully - heeling patterns, drop on recall, recall over high & broad jumps, long down - our final score would have been in the 190's if we'd Qed... considering we're limited on practice, that's nothing to sneeze at. hehehe
Later in Pre-Open class (which is the same as regular Open, but without the group exercises, and lower jump heights) Tripp gave a repeat performance. This time his retrieves were solid, heeling & recall were even better than before, but for some reason he missed the broad jump (stepped on the first board). So yet another NQ on what would've been another high score.
Sunday Tripp became the most ironic dog at the trial. His performance was a stark contrast to the day before's. He was extremely sloppy, distracted, and even moody both in and out of the ring. Not like him at all (time to see the chiropractor again!) But even though he was as horrible as I've ever seen him behave, he qualified in both classes! I hardly think he deserved it, but obviously I will take it, and be thankful the weekend wasn't a total loss.
In Pre-Open we somehow managed to earn a 191 & 1st place, despite Tripp's fault-ridden performance. I think the judge was being generous (although she's not known as lenient, so maybe I'm being hard on ourselves as usual.) He just wasn't nearly as good as on Saturday. I would've expected to score that well in Rally, perhaps, but not in traditional, precision Obedience.
Things only got worse from there. In Grad. Nov. Tripp was an absolute mess. That's not nitpicking either. At one point I actually expected to get kicked out of the ring he was so bad. Seriously! But miracle of all miracles, he squeaked by with a 185.5, and as no other team Qed, we even got a default blue ribbon. Okay, whatever. Take the leg and run, I say.
I guess a 50% passing rate isn't too bad in these increasingly harder levels... but can I credit his wins to Saturday's performance instead? ;-) haha
So remember how last year we were trying to make rank in UKC Rally? We came close, but "missed it by that much" come year's end. It was still fun competing, but man, it would have been so cool to earn that special award! Too bad. I figured that was probably our only shot at making national ranking in any sport. I didn't even think to look into other possibilities.
Well, who knew?...
Today I received a large envelope in the mail from CDSP. I thought, "what the heck could this be?" Tripp didn't have any new titles coming, and we generally don't get other mail from them. Hmm... I opened it up, and lo & behold, there were two certificates announcing that we made the Top 20! Wow!!! #10 in both Novice B (tied) and Open A. I'm not even sure how CDSP tabulates points for rank. Why would I even consider researching that when we just got started in the sport last spring? LOL
Of course, now I did have to look in the rulebook for info on earning points/making rank to see how we managed to do it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything regarding making the National Rankings. The only thing I managed to dig up was this: "CDSP National top 20 Rankings will be published annually in Front & Finish" (a major obedience/dog sports training magazine). Well, that's cool too! :-)
Here is the official list for CDSP's 2013 Top 20 in each class:
What do you do when you're just geting into a really fun level of Obedience and the dog earns his title? Move on? Methinks not so soon! Just another wonderful thing about CDSP - they offer level championships, so if you enjoy a particular level, you can stay there in the C class and compete for another title. I love Open too much to just stop now, so we will continue on towards Tripp's CDX-CCH. Perhaps by the time we finish that we'll be ready for Utility.
Here is our first trial in Open C. My head wasn't in the game for some reason so we weren't anywhere near in top form. But we still had fun, and Tripp managed to score a 192, so it's all good. :-)
Because he just doesn't have nearly enough yet! ;-) Tripp finished his Open Obedience title at DogStar Activity Center's CDSP trials this past weekend. He is now UWP, UROC, UKC CH Tintlet Destin Parfait CD, BN, CDX-C, RA, SG, W-FD, ATD, CGC, TT, VC Oh yeah! Definitely need to add some more letters to that. LOL!!!
And I will have you know that I had to look that up and copy it here, as I can no longer remember his full list of titles. ;-)
As usual, DogStar hosted an intimate trial full of friendly competitors; always a nice time there. Great place, and not too far away in Acton, Mass. Tripp had a great first run, giving a wonderful performance and scoring a 198. His second run wasn't quite as pretty, but he still managed a 192.5 (not all him, I had several handling faults) plus 1st place, and with that finished his CDX-C.
Check out the video and pics below!