I finally have a minute to sit down and write about our amazing, emotional, victorious return to Orlando for our latest obedience trial.
Coming off of the high from the previous weekend's scores of 87 and 100 in Rally, we were raring and ready to go. However, during the week, my dad was hospitalized with pneumonia, adding a major layer of stress over the proceedings. Training was minimal in the week before the show; depression is a real pain. But buoyed by dad's improvement, we arrived in Orlando ready to do our best.
The Orlando Dog Training Club is a large, fairgrounds building. Compared to Sarasota, which has room for two rings, and St Pete, which has a divider between two sets of rings, ODTC is a massive, echoing space. There were 6 or 7 rings, and a massive amount of activity.
Entering the Novice A ring on the first day was nervewracking. ODTC was a place I used to train, but Scorch has never been there before, or been any place quite like it. When we started the on lead heel, and indeed through most of the exercises, I felt like I had a dog barely restrained. He was giving me pretty good attention, but was forging repeatedly and bouncing. Still, we got through the heel on lead and figure 8 ok. After being a little shifty during the setup, his stand for exam was steady, although he moved his feet right as the judge said "exercise finished".
Then came the off lead heel. Again, I felt he was right on the edge of control. Scorch was bouncy and there was a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. He started the "fast" without me and came completely out of heel position... but somehow, on the about turn, responded to my call to heel and we finished gracefully enough. I was proud of him for ignoring the Open ring Drop on Recall occurring right next to us. As we set up for the recall though, the lure of the Open ring was *nearly* too much, and the judge mercifully told us to wait until it had quieted down. Then Scorch gave me the best front and finish on a recall to date.
Stays were not a problem, and so Scorch became Scorch CD. No placement, but a new rosette and new letters to his name.
We had a little bit of a wait to try and burn off some more of his energy. I see so many people keeping their dogs in kennels to make sure they bring them out fresh and to reduce lagging. We do not have that problem. I need to keep Scorch burning energy. I don't want him too fresh.
Next came Rally Novice A. We were only entered once in Rally, so this was our only chance that weekend to finish the title. No problemo. Scorch's only mistake was a little bit of interference during the 360 left. We rocketed through fronts and finishes, halt 1-2-3 steps, pace changes, and turns. We finished our run with a score of 99, first place, and our title.
By the end of Saturday, I was the proud owner of Scorch CD RN.
I spent part of the afternoon at the hospital with Dad, then Bryan and I had dinner with Mom. Dad was improving and would get to go home soon; still, I was glad I happened to be in town that weekend. It worked out well, but I was exhausted.
Sunday was a long day. We arrived a bit later to the show but ended up having a much longer wait than I anticipated. Bryan is a trooper. However, there was trouble afoot. I had bought Scorch a new slip lead at the show, and the night before had taken his collar off to do some work with the slip.
I forgot to put it back on.
So we showed up at the trial with no collar on his neck. There was one in my bag, but it had tags on it. I went into the Novice ring with Scorch on his slip lead, unaware of the points it would cost me. His performance, however, was much improved on the day before. He gave me steadier attention, did not try to bounce ahead, and overall gave a beautiful performance.
After our nice on lead heel and figure 8, I handed the leash to the steward and the judge asked, "Is that dog wearing a collar?" My heart sunk. We waited while a Novice B competitor (with a lovely red border collie) generously took the collar off of her dog for us to borrow. I stammered out an apology and the judge said, "Don't apologize to me." I knew we were in trouble, but I held it together, put the collar on, and started our stand for exam. My wonderful, wonderful dog gave a perfect performance. His off leash heel was nice, with a brief lapse of attention, and he gave me another perfect recall.
We got a nice round of applause from the Novice folks (the only people left at the show), and the judge told me he docked major points for handler error, but that otherwise my dog was very nice and we'd qualified. I held it together until I'd give Scorch his treats, and then I went outside to cry.
I didn't have long to calm down. We were near the end and we had stays to get through. I calmed down and Scorch gave his usual rock solid performance. Then, when we came back to the ring for ribbons, I stepped on his foot AGAIN and he screamed. I fell apart. I got down on the floor and cried into his fur, then lined up for ribbons, tears running down my face. It was extremely embarrassing, but I stayed there. I don't even remember what the judge said, although I do remember he said something about Novice A being hard work and sometimes tears. But all of a sudden, he was announcing, "And in 4th place, with a score of one-eighty-something [my memory goes blank here], dog and handler 510."
I stood there for a moment, then looked down at my armband. THAT WAS US? Suddenly, we were getting a trophy, and a toy, and a leash, and a ribbon, and a rosette, and I was crying even harder, from shock and happiness this time.
I can't believe it. Not only did we achieve our titles, we even managed to salvage a stupid error on my part and come back with a placement.
We're now getting ready for Open. Dumbbell work has been great, on the flat and over the jump. We just need to raise the jump to full height, and broad jump needs A LOT of work. Out of sight downs are pretty good but I'm not fully confident on the sits. Drop on recall needs to be, erm, started.
But my little boy loves the new stuff we're learning, and I love working with him. I'm hoping to debut Wolfie in Rally next year as well, since I think his hips can handle that. Scorch is just about ready for Rally Advanced.