I think I have decided that I will never FEEL ready to show... but sometimes, you just gotta do it anyway. That was the case with our debut in the Open ring. At least with the Novice A ring I had *some* frame of reference, from showing Jack briefly in UKC. But Open is a whole different monster... or at least, that's what I'd made it up to be in my head.
But Scorch's work was brilliant. I started to feel better when we got there and he was the BEST behaved he's ever been at a trial. Getting to go to work with me has changed his behavior in dramatic ways, and allowed us a chance to really work training into our daily routine.
We debuted under my favorite judge, Robert Withers, and he told me later that we were working on a pretty good score. I didn't stay long enough for scores to be posted, but I heard it was in the low 190s... good enough for first place probably.
Alas... the 3 minute out-of-sight sit-stay got us. Part of me is beaming with pride that he made it to 2 minutes and 50 seconds before laying down, and part of me is going, "Reeeeaaallllllyyyy? Ten seconds, Scorch?"
So that's a big thing we'll be working on before the Tampa show. But considering how hectic the week leading up to the trial was, I'm pretty amazed he did so well.
Video posted below!
Heel Free: It was a bit frenetic but generally was ok. His forging has gotten so much better; his heeling demons now mostly consist of wandering attention. Kudos to him though for returning well to heel position when he found himself in an unexpected position. He made the judge chuckle quite a few times with his quick, precise adjustments.
Figure 8: I wish we could start with the figure 8. That really seems to be when he pulls it together. I REALLY like the way this looks. All I need to do on my end is smooth out my footwork.
Drop on Recall: It's a running joke with the people I train with that as soon as you send in the check for a show, something breaks. That was the case with our drop on recall. Then, two days before the show, we had a breakthrough and it came back. I didn't even want to write about it... didn't want to jinx it. But it held and he did it under the pressure of the trial.
Retrieve on the Flat: You know what my favorite part of this is? How I was lined up with the mat line right down the middle, and Scorch retrieved the dumbbell and came STRAIGHT down on that line. I don't know if his perfect front would have been as obvious by video without that line. I really wish I had stayed to see the score breakdown, because I like to think we got full marks for this.
Retrieve over the Jump: My throwing is better than I thought. Scorch still had to make a decision about coming over the jump versus going around it, and you can see him consciously make the right one. The leashwork my boss suggested was a great solution.
Broad jump: From the video, it sort of looks like he cut the corner but from my view (and the judge's!), he actually did have plenty of room to spare. The glowing pride I felt seems obvious even with my back to the camera, as I spread my arms to Scorch and showered him with praise. I saw one dog skip the jump entirely and run directly to the handler (former problem of ours!), and another dog carefully stepped between each board in a perfect straight line, and finished with a perfect front. This exercise really is harder than I thought it would be, and I'm thrilled with our result.
And then, of course, we had our stays. We got to stay in the building due to the torrential rain outside, which made me feel better. I did have images of turning the corner and finding a steward hanging on to my dog for dear life... but I was careful to put the image of a perfectly seated dog into my head. It was not meant to be that day, and I put the blame squarely on my shoulders for lack of practice lately. Mr. Withers came over to tell me there had only been 10 seconds left. Oy! Scorch's down-stay was, of course, perfect. Open A was a bit of a blood bath. 23 dogs entered and present, 4 qualified.
Still, we had a beautiful day. :)
Post about our awesome Rally Excellent run will be next!