Last weekend I was at our own Two Brown Dogs and Prairie Dog Daycare Rally Trial. I judged two half days and entered Bear in the runs I was not judging.
From a Judging perspective, this was one of the nicest trials I judged. Handlers were kind and patient with their dogs, people stepped up to help if we needed help timing or course setting and there were no dog/dog issues as everyone respected everyone else’s space. We had quite a few teams new to CARO and I think they all went home feeling pretty good about themselves and their dogs. Oh yeah, did I mention we awarded 21 titles over the weekend!!!!
From a competitor’s perspective, things were interesting.
I judged first thing Saturday morning and it was a cool 13 degrees so Bear waited in the car. When it was time to start thinking about working I brought Bear out for a potty break and went through our pre-run routine of stationary focus work and a few tricks.
Our first Advanced C run was interesting. Bear was ‘with’ me but rather punchy – lots of jumping, forging and a bit of silliness. We lost 22 points for double cues and crooked sits. We did not lose any points for sniffing, licking or biting at the food bowls. From a technical standpoint, a cruddy run but from an attitude standpoint, just fine.
I figured by the time we got to our second run, in Excellent C, Bear would have calmed down a bit. I was wrong, he was even MORE punchy. We had to repeat a station and then a few more…all stations Bear usually does well. He did not appear overly spacey or stressed, just a little too excited to stay with me and pay attention so we repeated those we got wrong and he did them correctly on the second try.
By the time our 3rd run in Excellent Team came around, I decided we would do some mat work before going into the ring. We haven’t done the mat as part of our routine for a while but it was very effective. We did some settle and then went in to do our work, completing our half of the run with a 2 pt deduction for an extra command. Our team partners completed their half with only a few deductions and we qualified, earning the last leg we needed for our Excellent Team Title! I believe we are now the first to earn this title in Manitoba and that Bear is the first Rottweiler in CARO history to earn the CRXT.
Our 4th run of the day was in Versatility C. I love Versatility courses because Bear seems to work well heeling on either side and because Versatility courses are mostly novice level exercises. We had a few deductions for extra commands and for Bear moving slightly on a sit down walk around (my fault, I sat him so close to the wall I had to squeeze to get around) but qualified with a 191, earning our 7th leg towards our Silver award.
Overall, I was pleased with the day. No stress behaviors from Bear and the punchy-ness was easily corrected with a little settle work. He got to come out and wander around as we vacuumed up before leaving and he literally tore around the building – energy to spare!
On Sunday, we only had two runs in the morning.
We had entered Excellent Team and while we earned our title on Saturday, our partners still needed one leg for their title so we were a bye team. We did our pre-run settle work and we had a nice run with a few deductions for crooked sits. We ended up with a score of 192 and a title for our partners!
Our second run of the day was in Versatility C. We did our settle work as before and Bear seemed calm and focused. The course was challenging with lots of angles. These courses are particularly difficult for handlers (where am I going?) and dogs (what the heck is my handler doing?) and the level of difficulty rises in C stream when a person only has 3 minutes to walk the course. Bear was perfect, I got a little lost and almost went off course. Once I found my way back to the course we finished off very nicely. Our final score was 198. We lost 2 points –and rightfully so – for the loss of flow/handler error. This was our 8th leg towards our Silver award.
This is the first time ever that Bear’s behavior kept me out of a potentially bad situation. The fact that he was calm, attentive and engaged meant I could find my way back to the course without having to worry simultaneously about keeping him focus and finding my place.
Good Dog, Bear!
Our next, and likely last trial of the year, is in about 3 week’s time in Regina Saskatchewan. I am entered in 3 runs each day and judging 7 runs over the weekend. I am looking forward to taking our show on the road to a new venue and hoping that the work we have done at home will become evident in a new environment. I am also hoping that we can earn the final two legs we need for our Silver award.