We showed in Tampa this past weekend with mixed results. As great as Scorch performed at the Orlando trial, he's not just not quite ready for Open yet. The behaviors are there but the foundation is a bit shaky.
Saturday was... interesting. The venue is REALLY small; there's only room for 2 rings. The entry numbers were low but it was still crowded and the tension among the dogs seemed to be running high. There were a couple of near-fights soon after we got there. Then, as we were waiting for our turn in Open, Scorch had an unpleasant encounter with a boxer. I noticed that we were standing close by another dog, but didn't think much of it. Scorch sniffed his butt briefly and then refocused on me... but then the dog turned around and Scorchie realized the breed. Without warning, he snarked at the dog. The scars from the attack in August do run deep; I should have anticipated it but I didn't.
Anyway, the snark was very brief and the woman was, thankfully, very nice (and understood when I said my dog had been bitten). It almost looked more like the correction Scorch gives to obnoxious puppies. Unfortunately, the boxer owner and I realized that we were in sequential order and we would be next to each other during groups. We spoke to the judge, but she said the order would stay. So we walked them around a bit together, and then it was time for me to go into the ring, under Rose Doan.
Heel free: The judge said "forward", I said "heel", and as if on cue, two dogs got into a fight right outside the ring. REALLY? It rattled me and I'm sure it didn't help Scorch's anxiety, but in the video, he handles it very well. A lot of handlers say they're envious of his attention, but it did wander somewhat. His turns were wide until the last about-turn. He felt barely restrained at times, but in the video, his prance looks very nice.
Figure 8: Scorch usually has this one in the bag, but he bumped me on the inside turn. I realized on Sunday (when he was way worse) that he figured out that the judge has THEDUMBBELL. Whoever has THEDUMBBELL controls the universe, or something.
Drop on Recall: The judge called this one a bit late on some of the fast dogs, but Scorch nailed it anyway. Crooked front, nice finish.
Retrieve on the flat: This was great (and I even did a great throw!) until the finish. I didn't put my dumbbell hand by my side, and he tried to grab it while finishing. This might have signaled the beginning of the end.
Retrieve over the high jump: Aaaaaand here's where the wheels came off. He had been quietly whining at times, and the vocalizations became more audible during set-up. Scorch anticipated the send and I think he knew that something wasn't right. So he reverted right back to his old "come back around the jump" trick. He also decided to tug on the dumbbell.
Broad jump: I think Scorch's anxiety/excitement was through the roof at this point. I stood farther back from the jump than I usually do (I think I was having a confused day, haha), so he pretty much just skipped it. Again, I got the feeling that he knew it wasn't right... he didn't quite front or finish, and he went back to the jump, like "Wait a minute, I was supposed to do something here...". Our broad jump foundation is definitely weak and I think it just fell apart under stress. The judge laughed and said, "Well THAT'S an interesting way to do the broad jump!" I replied with, "Yep, that's a new one to me!"
We asked to be excused from groups due to the issue with the boxer. We did groups on Sunday, which I'll write about later, and Scorch had no problem with the dog (even though the boxer got up and visited another dog)! I'm glad we skipped the tense day.
I've always sworn I wouldn't be a "frowny face" handler... you know, those handlers who get done with a less-than-stellar run, put their dog in the crate, and walk away, or complain about it. The best part about our performance is that Scorch was happy; his tail was wagging, he was bright, and his attention was on me. We need to take our show on the road MUCH more and proof MUCH more; I think that will bring down some of the hyperness. As I get more experienced too, hopefully I won't send so much anxiety right down the leash.
But I know one thing; I am not a "frowny face". We went right out of the ring, got his tug toy, and played. Then we heeled with some treats. And then it was time to play at Rally!
Our Rally Excellent B run was great. We got a 95/100, which is the same score we got last time. I sent him a little late on the jumps, and I could have backed him up a little better on the lefts, but overall it was very nice.
Bob Withers was the judge (yay!) and as always, he made the ring a pleasant place to be. It was a fun bunch of handlers too, so we started saying we were the "Rowdy ring". One of my instructors, Fran, placed 1st with a score of 100. We were 2nd! Fran was happy that SOTC was represented in the top placements. I'm proud to be running Rally with the "big dogs".
Love this dog. I'll write about Sunday later (and Orlando's Rally Q).