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Archive for March, 2013

On Friday the Labrador and I had our debut in Rally Advance. This means I went into the ring and removed her leash. While we’ve done that in Agility, a Rally ring is a completely different environment. We’d also done it at a Show-N-Go, but again, different, and I was allowed treats on me.

Our first class while she did leave me to go say hi to the judge, and then to the folks at the table, we still managed a very respectable 92 out of a 100 for third place. I was pleased! Then about 15 minutes later we were back in the ring for another go.

It was a disaster. We eventually made it through about six of the signs, but the Labrador kept leaving me. She said hi to the judge, then started sniffing. Nothing I said or did brought her back to me. Finally the judge brought me my leash and said, “Thank you.” Our cue to leave the ring. Honestly, she gave us ample time to try to fix our course, but the Labrador was displaying all sorts of stress signals and avoidance. I was stressed and nervous, and she picks up on it. She was stressed. Dog shows are stressful. Hence the avoidance and sniffing.

I put her leash on and we left the ring, continuing out the door to the field behind the facility to walk and make a 911 call to my trainer.

This was our first Rally NQ. I knew it would happen one day, and I know this won’t be our last. As my trainer and others said, “Welcome to dog showing.” I was disappointed, and a bit bummed.

One exhibitor spoke to me before we went into the ring about the 5-5-5 rule, something I hadn’t heard before. Will it matter in 5 minutes? Will it matter in 5 hours? Will it matter in 5 days? The answer to all of that beyond what it showed me there was more training to do. So, I was bummed, and disappointed, not devastated. I went home that night, and wondered what would happen the next day. Would we have another good run, like our 92? Was she a one run dog? Was I a one run handler? Was it the stress? A whole in the training? Either way, I knew there wasn’t much we could do over night to change anything. We played in the yard, did some heeling with a frisbee reward, played with the tunnel and weave poles and basically had fun.

Then we headed back again the next day.

I must look as nervous as I feel at these trials as I always seem to get adopted, or maybe dog show people are just that friendly! I had people I didn’t know stopping by to assure me everything would be fine. We’d do great! They reminded me that a positive attitude is important. I love how friendly everyone is.

One thing that was different for me this time, as opposed to the last time I showed in Rally was it wasn’t the signs that worried me. I actually felt like I had a grasp of the signs after seeing the course map and didn’t feel like I needed to pull out the rule book to double check my understanding of them. I guess my flash cards have been paying off! That and I’d read through the rules again the night before. I walked the course, and worried about the fact the jump led her right towards the stewards table. There was a halt, pivot left, forward right in front of it, and I considered where to do the sign to give us distance from people with the hope she wouldn’t go say hi.

We warmed up. We went in. We completed the first sign, and then the Labrador went to say hi to the judge. “Oh no, not again.” I think the words actually left my mouth, but were followed by a here, and unlike the previous day, the Labrador returned! We heeled forward, completing our course to an amazing score of 96 and first place! Redemption! A 96 under the same judge who had handed us our leash the day before and nicely said, “Thank you.” She’d also said that she had a dog in the car that would have been worse than mine. Today her comment was, “Nice recovery!” I wanted to crow, “See I really HAD trained my dog!” Instead I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I think she understood!

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Welcome to Spring! It is currently snowing!

The snow started yesterday, causing the Agility Trial I was at to be called early due to weather. The Labrador and I got to compete in the morning, but didn’t get to our class in the afternoon. Considering how much snow we got, and that I made it safely home before it got too treacherous, I’m ok with that. I hope everyone else was as lucky!

The trial began on Friday, where a few layers kept me warm in the high 40 degree weather. Saturday was gorgeous, and there were times I actually took my coat off, though I still had my layers on. The sun kept coming out, and I believe we had highs in the 50’s. I was reminded too late of the necessity of sunscreen, and considering the state of my face, hope to remember this lesson my next outdoor trial! So, we went from sunburn to subarctic overnight. Spring trials — such fun!

Actually it was a great deal of fun, and the Labrador earned two seconds and a first, including a qualifying score in Tunnelers that puts us closer to our first Agility title! We will be competing again in April, hopefully that will get it!

The Beagle got to attend this trial on Saturday as I knew I’d be there most of the day. I wanted to expose her to the experience and see how she reacted. She was amazing. She sat, relaxed at my feet just watching what was going on. I walked her around the area and she sniffed, and watched and checked back in with me and handled it all with amazing composure.

I learned I have some things to work on with the Labrador, like convincing her that the ring crew doesn’t want her to say hi. I learned I have somethings to work on with myself like remembering a course even after she goes to say hi to the ring crew. I also learned that when I remember to give her the command to switch, she’ll do it on a dime!

During our first Jumpers class she left me to say hi to the ring crew, and once I got her back I realized I wasn’t sure where on the course I was — I got flustered. She was standing at my side, smiling up at me, bouncing with this “Just tell me where to go!” look. Laughing, I finally pointed to a jump and said, “Just take that one!” We finished the course out from that one and amazingly it was correct, though I had to ask my trainer as I left if we’d actually stayed on course! She’s young. We’re both new at this. We’ll get better, but I hope we never stop having fun at it!

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