It seems to be everyone's favorite "catch-word" at the moment, so I just had to say it. Epic seems appropriate to describe our latest show weekend. Or at least our schedule! 4 Conformation shows, 8 Rally Obedience classes (entries in both level 2 & 3 in 4 trials), all packed into 2 hot summer days. That's 12 events in 1 weekend. If ever my sanity was up for serious questioning, this confirms that I've completely lost my mind. LOL
I'm so glad that Tripp is such a good sport...
Click on "Read More" below for the full story and video footage!
It was a very competitive weekend... but only in the talent of so many teams - the atmosphere of course was all supportive and friendly. This is your typical CDSP Obedience trial. The exercises are similar to mainstream trials, but everything is much more relaxed and fun. Praise is allowed in the ring, and even a treat between exercises. The focus in CDSP is teamwork over absolute precision. Obviously this makes for more happy dogs!
Monadnock Humane Society was our gracious host on June 16, and as our wonderful judges, Charlene Swainamer & Barb Burri. Tripp held his own in both trials against stiff competition, earning a near-perfect score of 199 each time. And both trials required a "run-off" (repeat the heeling pattern to break a tie) - trial 1 actually had a 4-way tie! As I said, lots of great teams out there. Tripp, as usual, got a little wacky in the run-offs, so we took lower placements - but 3rd & 4th place is still quite respectable.
More importantly, this finished Tripp's CD-C title - our first in the sport of obedience. The next trial is a month away, where we will enter Open level. There's still a lot of training left to do to prepare for that! Time to get to work!
You all know Tripp does a lot of tricks. You've seen many in his freestyle routines. He knows so many that I can't even remember half of them without looking at a list. But ironically, with all the filming I do of him, I have never compiled a video specifically of Tripp's tricks. Until now...
For some time, I had intended to apply for Trick Dog titles through DMWYD, partly because they count as points towards VIP's versatility certificates. As of Sept. 3, 2012 Tripp officially became an Advanced Trick Dog, thus giving him more than enough points for his VCX. (Now I still need to apply for that. Don't hold your breath. ;-)
As DMWYD states, titles also offer training goals to keep handlers motivated and focused on, well, doing more with their dog! No other organization offers recognition for the "sport" of dog tricks. I admit, I have heard the rare brush-off that it's just a "buy-a-title" thing, since lower titles are given basically on the honor system (you just have a witness confirm performance - which could be "fixed" - but really, why would anyone do that? Meanwhile Championship application requires a video submission to ensure correct performance.) But it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to have video capabilities for even Novice level, and I don't forsee organized trick dog competitions popping up across the country (how would you even judge that?)... So how else could it be done? Besides, if these weren't respectable titles, VIP would certainly not be recognizing them!
Not everyone wants to compete in mainstream trials, but many people enjoy teaching their dog tricks. Even if it only takes place in their living room, it still makes for great bonding and mental stimulation. Titles are something tangible for us humans to get in reward for our training efforts. And as previously stated, it keeps us motivated to go futher.
Ok, so getting down to the technical details... There are 5 levels of trick titles - Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and Champion. Each level is successive to the one before it. There is a long list of tricks, organized by difficulty, from which to choose behaviors to earn the titles. Each title requires a certain number of tricks at the given level or higher. Novice requires 15 tricks (Tripp is adept at 26, and can do more - imperfectly), Intermediate requires NTD title, plus 12 tricks at the appropriate levels (Tripp knows 18, and again, a few more still in the learning stages), Advanced & Expert require the previous titles plus 5 more high level tricks (Tripp now has 8 advanced tricks and 6 expert tricks, plus a few of his own). TDCH reviews all levels and has more stringent, specific requirements and some more difficult behaviors. I'd like to get that far with Tripp some day.
So why the extreme delay in announcing this new award? I mean, besides being a master of procrastination. Well, making movies takes time... but I certainly couldn't tease you all with so many fun tricks without providing a video montage of the talented Tripp showing off! ;-) Our latest movie includes the tricks used for credit towards his ATD title, as well as a few new & original ones thrown in... after all, it's been almost a year, we've learned some new things along the way! But if you meet us on the street, don't ask me what tricks Tripp can do - I still can't remember them all! LOL
On the first weekend in June, we "did it all" at the American Pit Bull Terrier Club of New England's UKC conformation show and weight pull in Westfield, MA. They offered a great, affordable package deal for all 4 shows plus both pulls that I couldn't resist. Running from one ring to another to keep up with the schedule is a bit hectic, but worth it for a chance at Total Dog. ;-)
It was a wicked heat wave, and we were all thankful that the weight pull trial was held under cover in one of the fairground barns. We were not so lucky in conformation, but at least there was a frequent breeze. On the down side, the wind continually blew thick clouds of pollen off the tall pines. Allergy sufferers were not faring well by day two of this!
Tripp did wonderfully despite the heat, moving well in the show ring, and working with his usual gusto in weight pull. Now that he is going for WP Championship, we follow a different strategy, building points rather than earning basic qualifying legs. The point schedule goes by increments of weight pulled - on wheeled carts, 10x the dog's body weight = 5 points, 15x his weight = 10 points, and then it jumps to 25x his weight for 15 points, and so on. Darn it, what happened to 20x? (Weight requirements are different for track systems and snow sleds, but the increments are comparable.) I'm slightly irked by this, because Tripp can do 20x under the right conditions, but I don't forsee 25x ever being reasonable for him. I know to never say never, but I will bet that we're stuck at 10 points max per trial. At that rate, I'm not sure if we'll ever make title (UWPCH requires 100 points) unless there's an upsurge in local trials - Tripp could very well be retired before we see 8 or more trials in the area! LOL Oh well, we'll keep trying anyway, having fun on the journey whether we reach the destination or not. :-)
Anyway, what this point schedule means is that if Tripp pulls 15 times his weight, he will earn 10 points - but if he pulls, say, 17 times his weight he won't earn anything extra, so basically the effort is pointless. So now at trials our goal weight will be 15x and we'll likely end at that to conserve energy. This should be easy enough for Tripp as he's just beginning to make an effort at that weight! LOL Although I did wonder if he'd make it that far in last weekend's heat. Luckily he weighed in at only 48 lbs (I'm pretty sure their scale was off, but no complaints here! hehehe) so he "only" had to pull less than 750# to hit 15x. I expected to need closer to 800, so one less pull was fine by me. Tripp too, I'm sure!
I will say it was an educational weekend... Part of my concern over hitting our goal weight in WP was the number of pulls required to get that far. The down side to Tripp weighing in light was that he got stuck in a lower weight class with the "little" dogs, which meant moving up weight increments just one block at a time. I knew you were allowed 2 "passes" - the choice of skipping 1 or 2 move ups - but was under the impression that this rule was over the entire trial. That still would be more reps than I wanted Tripp to do in severe heat. But hallelujah, come to find out, the rule is 2 passes only between pulls - you can skip 2 increments after your first pull, then do your second, then skip 2 more, then pull again, and so on. That was the best news I got all day! And we did exactly that. We entered at the highest weight allowed for Tripp's class, skipped all that we could, and ended up only needing to do 4 pulls to hit our goal weight on both days. Tripp says that was plenty, now bring on the A/C! ;-)
But WP was not the end of things. We also had two conformation shows each day. While Tripp looked great out there for the most part, we were somewhat less successful, taking Reserve CH in all 4 shows. Basically, runner up. (Well, at least he made good point fodder for our competition. LOL) I wasn't entirely disappointed at first, since he did win that placement over another Poodle, so I still expected to earn Total Dog for our competitive win plus performance Q. That was really all I wanted anyway. Alas, my education continued, this time not particularly to my pleasure. Turns out he actually must win his class (or take a group placement) to be eligible. In other words, Reserve counts for nothing, so that was just some expensive handling practice after all. Total Dog is slightly tougher to earn than I thought, no wonder it is so coveted! On the bright side, I should be even prouder that Tripp has earned it twice already, with limited showing. We'll keep trying for more. Why stop now?
No matter if UKC says Tripp is a Total Dog on a given day, or not... he will always be that and more to all of us who know him.
He is The Ultimate Versatile Poodle!
My Total Dog. :-)