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. ;-)
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
After Tripp's initial enthusiasm at the Barn Hunt workshop in March, we tried a fun match at a different location several weeks later. This time in an actual barn! It was a very interesting experience, with the plethora of new scents everywhere. Tripp still enjoyed the game, but was much less intense... which for once wasn't a good thing. He actually seemed to lose interest in the rat after finding it, rather than stay put and obsess over it like he did at the workshop. Was it the distracting environment? Did I discourage him by not immediately trusting his nose? Or was it the lack of the visual stimulus of seeing the "prey" before hunting for it? (He got to meet the rat first at the workshop.) Perhaps all of the above.
I decided in June to give it one more try, and entered the first NH trial at that same barn, with a promise to trust Tripp's nose faster and treat him with a cheese stick after his turn in the ring. Unfortunately, his love of the sport seems to have waned even more. Oh, he still enjoyed playing around on the course and searching, but his indications were very brief. Even on our Instinct run, I didn't even get the chance to call it - Tripp found the rat, quickly gave the tube one little bite, and before I could think about asking him if that was it, he was gone and sniffing elsewhere. I tried to get him back but he was over it by then and we ended up timing out. :-( Next up on our Novice run he did a nice search, climbing all over the hay bales. This time I wasn't going to second guess him. When he stopped on one and started digging, I quickly called "Rat!" *sigh* Wrong tube, I called it too soon. So another NQ. At least the entry fees are super cheap, so I wasn't out too much cash.
After that disappointing morning, I decided to scratch on the second trial. The sun was moving past the trees at our shady parking spot and the car was starting to get a bit too warm. Just one thing I hate about having to work out of the car. Plus the back seat isn't quite as comfortable for Tripp as his crate. Not to mention we were both bored to death between turns! With the hunt in a small barn, there was little opportunity to observe the other teams, and you can only stand around chatting in the sun for so long. Meanwhile the poor dog is stuck hiding out in the vehicle. As we headed down the road with a cool breeze blowing in the windows, Tripp looked much happier, so obviously the heat was getting to him too. Glad we left when we did.
Tripp did at least have one exciting moment with a rat though... when I went to tell the stewards I was leaving early, he spotted one of the rats in a cage. Oh sure, NOW you want to get it. LOL
'Tis the end of an era. Tripp has finished his career in UKC Rally Obedience! On Mother's Day weekend (was this my gift as a dog mom?) we earned our last double Q for his Excellent title.
We had a fairly smooth start. It was a very small trial, so things moved fast, and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to ask anyone to film us during our first run in level 2. As usual, the best run was the one not on video! LOL Level 3 wasn't nearly as pretty, but we got the job done.
Both times we received a score of 99 and 2nd place. Can't really complain about that!
Now that Tripp has his URX, our sole focus will be on Obedience. Well... ok, so we'll do some other stuff too, but no more Rally... at least for now.
Our LAST Rally vid is below...
If it wasn't already for certain, Tripp is now officially an International Superstar! We recently spent a long weekend in Montreal, Quebec for a big UKC event. This time I actually had a chance to see a bit of the city, Poodle at my side. Although I'm a country girl at heart, the architecture of the old urban buildings, particularly the cathedrals, was beautiful, and alone made the trip worthwhile. I just wish I had time to see more. Our hotel was excellent, and everyone enjoyed meeting Tripp. Even the owner herself fell in love, going so far as to invite us into the restaurant so the family could meet the amazing Parti Poodle, and insisted we return. As usual, we were also stopped countless times on the street and at the show for petting, compliments and of course photos. I will always wonder how widespread on the internet random images of Tripp have become! LOL
The show itself was once again held in conjunction with a huge Canadian pet expo. It seemed even bigger than in the spring! Every "domestic" critter imaginable was on display (including some not so domestic, like foxes and semi-wild cats), along with various vendor booths, and again they had pony rides and other family attractions set up adjacent to our show rings. The arena for the agility, disc dog, & freestyle demos was right next to our rally ring, but thankfully the view was blocked. Plus it was so noisy in there from the massive crowd that Tripp was oblivious to the nearby excitement, which worked in our favor. ;-) Certainly the whole thing is a testament to good temperament! It takes a very stable dog to handle all that craziness, including a majority of people & kids who are totally ignorant of proper interaction with dogs. Trippy put up with a lot more than he should have to. Such a good boy!
Show details below...
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. :-)