This post is super-late in coming, probably because of the break we've taken from any serious training.
But we did it. We achieved the goal of the Companion Dog Excellent title.
The CDX title was always just tantalizingly out of reach. With Jack, we never finished the (UKC) CD title due to his health cutting his career (and eventually his life) short. With Wolfie, we never even started the CD due to his hips. Both dogs were trained through Novice level obedience, but both dogs only knew bits and pieces of Open work, and Wolfie cannot hold a sit for 3 minutes, so we never got that far with it.
But Scorch, my Novice A dog, has taught me more than I ever imagined. I can't believe that we conquered Open A.
We showed in Orlando in April. We got hit pretty hard for vocalizations, but other than the whining, Scorch kept himself under control and put on some of the best performances of his life. In fact, if it hadn't been for the 10 point hit we got for whining on Sunday, we would have had a 198. I'm EXTREMELY proud of that performance. His 191 and 188 still earned us 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.
With two legs down and one to go, we showed in Lakeland. We hadn't been to IPOC before, so I knew we'd be battling some anxiety demons. As it happened, Denise Fenzi had achieved a positively-trained OTCH just before our show. Some well-known local trainers were there bitching about it. It went on ALL. WEEKEND. I was stunned. One of the women, who is a fan of prong collars and "correcting every little mistake in heeling until the dog figures out where they're supposed to be", did at least say that she respects any OTCH and that no one can buy that kind of honor. But in the same breath, she also went on about how many years it took Denise to get it. Really?? The dog was busy achieving Schutzhund titles at the same time.
One of the trainers, another well-known local man, called his dog "that little shit" after their Utility performance. Then immediately went back to abusing positive training techniques. Talk about scapegoating. Bryan took to calling the group "the knitting circle" and actually got aggravated with the attitude of "the dog HAS to do the WORK".
So our first day in the ring started out OK but Scorch did become too jazzed up. I knew the second that we walked into the ring that I barely had him. He turned in a nice heeling performance that looked great, but it FELT wrong... and sure enough, when I went to pet him before the figure 8, I felt him vibrating and he was not interested in my touch at all. He NQ'd by going around the jump and also by hitting the broad jump.
Day 2 was better as soon as we walked into the building. Scorch knew where he was and what he was there to do. We did lots of down-stays near the ring and tried to get into a zen-mode. I had great attention from him, without the edge of frantic that had marked our warm-up the day before. We went into the ring and I KNEW that I had him.
We turned in a score of 195 and got 1st place. I cried a little as we celebrated after the broad jump... I was a nervous wreck during the out of sight sit stays, but after he aced that, I was completely relaxed (but in shock) during the down stays.
I didn't know our placement, but I suspected we placed. I wasn't expecting first though... and the tears started again.
My little border collie, my heart dog:
Next comes Utility, although after the adrenaline rush that was Open, I was happy to take a breather and focus on the basics for a while. Now we're starting to pick up the training again, and I can't wait for the next leg of the journey. I'll probably enroll in our 3rd Utility class in the fall and see where we're at. Maybe we can start showing again in late winter. I am so proud of my boy.