I'm still on a high from this past weekend. Day 2 had it's bumps in the road but as a whole, this weekend was a priceless experience that I will never forget.
We started the day driving through a veritable monsoon. The pouring rain did little to dampen our spirits though, and we were raring and ready to go when we arrived at the training club for our second attempt at a leg. Bryan offered to drop us off and park the car. I gratefully agreed, forgetting to remind him that my headlights weren't on auto (an omission I would come to regret later).
We settled in to watch Novice B. I had heard of our judge, Louise Botko, although I could not remember exactly WHAT I'd heard. Luckily, I found her to be warm, friendly, and fair. We signed in and waited for our class to begin. Thunder echoed in the warehouse-like building, and several dogs reacted. I kept Scorch occupied with tugging and obedience practice and he held up well. He spent a lot of the day in MY chair.
Novice A began, and I murmured to Bryan that I had spotted our biggest competition of the day. A pale yellow lab was putting on quite a show. I knew we'd have a big act to follow.
Remembering the problem that had plagued us the day before, I worked on Scorch's heel up, only rewarding him if he sat at heel. He would do it well a couple of times and then would move into heel and just stare up at me. After some experimenting, I found that he seemed to prefer the hand signal to the verbal command. A couple of weeks prior to this, it had seemed just the opposite, but who am I to argue at zero hour? Hand signal it was! We suddenly had the consistency I was looking for.
Once again, time flew and I suddenly realized the judge was smiling at me and calling our number. We took a few moments to make sure Scorch was in proper heel position.
Are you ready?
"Ready!" Scorch's eyes locked on.
What a start. Scorch was high-stepping, driving forward, quick to sit at halt. We had a really beautiful heel. Our slow was nice, about turns were prompt, and then he was bouncing next to me during the fast...
OH GOD I STEPPED ON MY DOG'S FOOT. OH GOD HE YELPED. I AM THE WORST MOM EVER.
I blurted out, "I'm sorry!" and I don't think the judge deducted points for that. We continued forward and his heel definitely faltered... but my little trooper kept going. We had a no-sit, but at least he was paying attention to me. We moved on to the figure 8 and he was distracted by some barking dogs and threw in a no sit. But he regained his composure and finished nicely, although thankfully the judge said "exercise finished" before he decided to scratch an itch.
I didn't have any memory of the stand for exam. I only know what happened because of the video. But Scorch held steady for the exam and only moved a foot when I returned to him.
He turned it on for his off leash heel. I had my boy back for the most part, although it did feel a tiny bit off. Still, he came through nicely.
Recall... again that nervousness after I turned my back on him and walked away. Will he still be sitting in the same spot when I turn around? Yes, he stayed. The judge signaled silently to call him and again he raced in. Crooked front, but I called him to heel and HE SAT! A bit far forward but he flipped in and HE SAT!!!! Exercise finished and we had a praise party. The judge chatted with us briefly and echoed a sentiment Judge Happersett had expressed the day before: his off leash heel was far superior to his on leash. In this case, we lost 10 points on heel on lead and figure 8 (eek!)
We raced back for some treats and for other competitors to commiserate about stepping on my dog. One woman from SOTC had stepped on her flat coat the day before. I still felt bad, but I was glad I wasn't the only one. I previewed some of the video and realized our performance was a lot better than I had perceived it to be.
Back in the ring for stays. I had a brief flutter of panic when I realized Scorch was sitting slouched on one hip, but he held steady and passed the stays with no problem.
The ribbons and placements were handed out. Only 6 of us had qualified (out of 16). Scorch and I didn't place, and I wasn't expecting to... but we got a 187! Good enough for me, and good enough for our second leg!
We did it Scorch. You and me. One more leg to go and hopefully that will happen in October. Angie (who went High in Trial on Saturday by the way... go Angie!) said it's time to start seriously introducing Open and Utility work. We've gotten to picking up the dumbbell and that's about it. But showing Scorch is just about my favorite thing to do... I'm looking forward to many more accomplishments with my heart dog.