Fri. Aug. 30
Merrimack Valley Kennel Club began it's annual 3 day AKC Obedience trial in Amherst, NH at American K9 Country. This was an afternoon trial, not beginning until 2 pm. Entering on days like this, you risk a late evening ring time, but I chanced it, figuring how bad could it be? Ha! Well, we arrived around 2:30 to set up the crate and settle in, allowing plenty of time for that and walkies, warming up, and watching a bit of the other classes. Plenty of time, indeed. I knew our classes (Novice A & Beginner Novice A) were to follow a large Utility & Open entry, but I severely underestimated the amount of time those classes would take. Hours passed, they took a dinner break, then other classes continued. It was very late evening by the time we finally entered the Novice ring. I don't even remember what time it was by that point. It was certainly after 9 pm!
Click below on "Read More" to see how we did!
What I do absolutely remember is that Tripp did wonderfully after waiting around for sooo long. While not absolutely perfect (far from it during Heel Free, as he got the itchies, LOL), he did well enough to manage a score of 194, and 1st place, plus a special Highest Scoring Poodle in Trial award (and I saw several Poodles there). Fantastic for our first time in AKC Novice! I'd say that was worth waiting for.
After a short time, we were back in the ring for Beginner Novice. I hoped to finish his title that evening. Unfortunately it was after 10 pm by then - past bedtime - oh, and did I mention, no supper? Poor puppy. He was already fast asleep in his crate when I went to get him warmed up. But what a sport, he got right back into working mode, and overall did a lovely job in the ring - possibly better then in Novice. Disappointment came during the sit-stay however, when he dropped into a down. NQ. I didn't see it happen at the time and thought he just layed down, but watching the video back I see he had an itch and just didn't have the energy to stay upright. I really can't blame him either way. I was still very proud of him for trying and doing such a great job so late at night on an empty tummy. Same for me!! LOL
I will say, having a judge like Michael Calhoun made the late hours a lot more enjoyable. My Rally trainer informed me he was "the bomb" and surely enough he truly was an awesome judge. What a riot! Lots of fun showing under him, and very nice guy, really takes the edge off for new competitors. I'm so glad I had him as my first judge for the weekend.
For the record, the other two judges were very nice as well, making for a well rounded, enjoyable weekend. Definitely encouraging for us to continue on in AKC Obedience.
Sat. Aug. 31
Finally, normal show hours. We still had a bit of a wait, but we were done by mid-afternoon. Much more reasonable. And I didn't even have to get up early! Now that's my kind of day. Even traffic wasn't bad considering the holiday weekend; although heavy, I didn't once hit a dead stop on the highway during my commutes back-and-forth, and actually made good time most days.
We started Saturday in the Novice ring again. Tripp did a gorgeous job out there - of course, since I wasn't able to catch it on video! Typical. ;-) He did get distracted by something in the next ring during one of the heeling patterns, but quickly returned to heel. His positioning in general was much better than usual and overall he kept great focus. This was my favorite performance for the weekend, as far as precision. And it showed in his score - only losing minor points for a 3.5 total deduction (incredible for AKC scoring!) - finishing with a 196.5 and another 1st place.
In Beginner Novice, Tripp managed to stay awake this time for the sit. LOL The whole thing was kind of sloppy, but he still somehow managed to earn a 194 and yup, yet another 1st place. These weren't default wins either, people! Of course, this was A division, for us newbies. When we move into B division with the more seasoned competitors I doubt we'll see so many blue ribbons, even with similar scores. That is where it gets extremely competitve. Oh well, we'll still have fun. In any case, this Q finished Tripp's BN title and we moved on to the next level for Sunday's trial.
Sun. Sept. 1
Today our ring times were close together. I ran back and forth between each ring for walk thrus, competing, group exercises, and awards. Thankfully the judges and club reps. were very supportive and flexible, switching the running order and even waiting a few minutes to allow me to compete in both classes. I don't believe they are required to do that in AKC, so I am extremely grateful!
It was another long day of waiting, arriving in the morning and not getting in the ring until after lunch. On the plus side, this allowed my busy parents to come watch their grandson compete - and of course, take video! :-) The drawback to this is that Tripp was slightly distracted by them outside the ring while we competed, but oh well. He still gave a decent performance and continued his streak of blue ribbon Qs...
For our first perfomance in Graduate Novice (which is something between Novice and Open), we surprisingly earned a 196.5. This time we were the only qualifying team, so 1st place did come as default. Unimportant. I was just thrilled that Tripp did everything well enough to pass. It'd been a long, demanding weekend for the boy.
Finally, only one more class - Novice. Our final leg. Tripp did it, but with less enthusiasm. More lagging, and not much excitement between exercises despite my encouragement. He was just ready to go home and sleep. But he still got the job done. I did have to use an extra command to get his attention back once during heeling, which lost more points, but all that mattered was a qualifying score. As they say, it doesn't have to be pretty, as long as you get that leg. Tripp almost lost it all during setup for group exercises - he got snarky at the other intact male (aggression can be an automatic excusal) - but he returned to working mode without too much effort, and did the stays perfectly. Whew! He still pulled off a 191 and 1st place, with both qualifying teams finishing CD title. Yay for everyone!
Can you believe that? A CD in one weekend! That must be some kind of record for Tripp in AKC events. I don't think we've ever scored so well or won so many blue ribbons in AKC - or finished in a minimum of trials. Amazing. I'm sure a lot of it can be attributed to experience (thanks to our continued career in UKC Rally and recent practice in CDSP) - and better focus now that we're concentrating on obedience training and not so much other sports which serve to distract the Poodle's mind (ahem, Agility). More interesting things lay ahead of us... :-)
Here is a pic of Tripp with his haul of ribbons and just some of the prizes he won. Of course he is thilled with his new toys; I find the "curly bird" particularly suiting for a Poodle! Some of the other toys (including duplicates) will be donated to the shelter as usual. We also received a very nice, heavy duty, stainless steel dish which will likely go along with them, since Tripp eats & drinks out of different style bowls. Tempting to keep it just in case, but no need to hoard unnecessary items when there are dogs in need.
One of the coolest things we won was a nice, short, braided leather leash on Sunday for Highest Scoring Dog in Novice A. So nice, in fact, that the judge wanted to steal it. LOL "Oh that's too small for your big dog, I'll just have to keep it," she says jokingly. ;-) But I do love a nice short leash, and the small snap fits on Tripp's obedience collar perfectly. The clincher came when I was packing up and read the donation tag attached to the lead - "offered by Barb Burri" - haha, one of Tripp's favorite judges/trainers! Now that is cool.
Oh yes, thank you so much, he was in desperate need of more toys, as you can see. ;-)