After Bear’s performance last month in Regina, I decided to enter him in a couple of CKC Rally Obedience trials here in Brandon at the Wheat City Kennel Club Dog Shows.
In the past, our poorest performances have been at CKC shows. There are likely a thousand and one reasons for the poor performances but I’ll list only a few.
- For a distractible dog, the CKC venue provides a plethora of distractions from dogs in the ring next door, to interesting things under the judges table to TOYS!! In the ring.
- CKC shows (at least here in Brandon) feature 2 of Bear’s “Most feared” things; Baths and Blow-dryers. These are the only 2 things that cause him to salivate in those long stringy ropes of stress drool.
- The Brandon shows have lately come a a time when I’m very busy and have not spent the time working with Bear that I should have.
We got our CKC Rally Novice title in 3 trials and attempted our first Advanced level trial back in February 2009. We’ve been failing miserably at CKC Rally ever since – or not entering at all.
There are a few things that have caused me to reconsider trialing at a CKC event. 1) This year the Wheat City Kennel Club November show set the Obedience & Rally in a completely different ‘barn’ of the Keystone Centre – away from bathing stalls and the blow-dryers. And, 2) Bear’s ‘on the road performance’ has been improving lately and I wanted to test things out in a different environment.
Even though we’ve been having moderate success in other venues, I still had a plan to help Bear be comfortable and focused in the ring which went as follows
- I decided to enter two trials, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. We only needed two legs and I didn’t feel like tempting fate with two runs on Saturday.
- I made a batch of Tuna Brownies since they seemed to be a hit at the previous trial.
- I paid for some “mat time” on Thursday evening as the club was setting up. We mostly played some games, ran around, acted like fools but it allowed us some time to familiarise ourselves with the locale before other competitors arrived.
- Late Friday Afternoon, I spent about 20 minutes with Bear, walking around the venue, giving him cookies for reorienting to me and generally just having a nice relaxing time.
- On both trial days my plan was to leave Bear crated in my car, away from all the show insanity, bring him in for a bit during the Excellent runs and then let him rest back in the car while I did my walkthroughs.
On Saturday we had a pretty good run – by CKC Standards. There were 6-1 point deductions for Bear being out of position (and he was) but we finished and qualified with a score of 94. More than anything I was glad that I was able to keep my nerves intact while we were in the ring and not give up the second he drifted away a bit.
On Sunday our run was better but more interesting. On one of our About Turns, Bear left heel position to check out a mop & bucket just outside the ring. I’m not certain his feet even left the ring mats but his nose did. He recovered and continued to work and so we continued but to be honest, I was worried we might have disqualified. Believe it or not we qualified with a score of 95 and earned our CKC Rally Advanced Title! One thing I love about CKC is that they list scores immediately so you don’t have to wait through your whole class to find out if you qualified our not. After the steward wrote down our score, I have to admit, I might have engaged in some excited fist pumping and happy dancing!
Upon closer inspection of the CKC Rally Obedience Trial Rules and regulations (January 2, 2008) I learned that leaving the ring does not result in a non-qualifying score. I suppose that if a dog ran out of the ring like its tail was on fire a judge award a non-qualifying score on the basis that it was unmanageable.
All in all I am THRILLED that we’ve reached this milestone and I’ll happily pay the $50 CKC Membership that we need in order to receive our title certificate!
We’ve got a bit of down time now from trials tests etc. Not a lot going on until February 2012 but I am starting to think about what I’d like to do with Bear next year and am going to develop a little plan to help us get there!