Beau and I ventured to our first obedience trial together on Friday. The morning dawned gently and we got ourselves together and out of the house in more than enough time to make the trip north to the show grounds.
After a lovely drive through farmland, we arrived at 11am for “an after noon” start and that is when my nerves kicked in. It has been close to 25 years since I’ve done anything competitive with one of my dogs and it was a new world! I unloaded Beau and let him sniff around the grounds and get settled to watch the field trips for a moment.
My biggest concern going into the day was that Beau would lose his mind at the large number of exciting dogs he saw, heard, and smelled and kick up a fuss. Given our past, I did not know what to expect from him. He does so well in class but is still easily over-aroused on the street, although his vocalization has gotten so much better and we make new strides every day.
I didn’t need to worry about him. He was interested but not too hyped up. He didn’t try to initiate play, didn’t vocalize beyond some whining in his travel kennel, and was a very good boy overall.
Our class was slated to begin around 1pm, but as these things go, we didn’t hit the ring until 4pm. Our class of 7 was a class of 3 by the time we walked the ring and we were the last to go.
We walked in the ring and I did my best to remember all our training and listen to the judge.
We began with the heel on leash. Then, a figure 8 heel pattern followed by stand for exam, then heel off-leash, followed by a recall, and finally a quick stay to allow the handler to retrieve the leash. Prior to stand for exam, you unclip the line and hand it to a ring steward who hangs it on a little rack. After the heel off-leash and recall, it’s a left turn, sit your dog, stay your dog, walk to get the line, turn and wait for the instruction to return to your dog. This is where we really fell apart.
Beau waited two beats and then, came trotting towards me as I was walking back – instant disqualification! Here is a video of our run – the good, the bad, and the body slam. 😁
I was super disappointed and a few tears rolled down my face as we left the ring BUT…..I recovered quickly because:
- Beau seemed to have a good time in the ring. He had a thundering recall (and body slammed me with happiness) and was more engaged with me than I expected him to be (even though we still need to work on that).
- I met some lovely people, including an amazing woman I came to find out is the president of my training club! She was so humble, gracious, and helpful and was one of the bright spots of the day.
- Beau lasted 7 hours (we stayed to watch a title run-off) without a single scream or juke towards another dog, crated nicely for the most part, and completed everything but the last 30 seconds of the run.
Can you imagine? The dog I could barely walk without an incident of extreme vocalization at seeing another dog less than a year ago was calmly existing in a warehouse with 300 dogs without screaming??? It was a beautiful sight to behold….once my nerves settled.
If we had to NQ, having it be because Beau wanted to run TO me is not the worst thing in the world. Now, I study my video over and over, tweak what needs to be tweaked, keep practicing, get feedback from the experts and find our next show.
As always, thanks for following our adventure!
peace, love, and pawprints