The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

19 January 2013

First time in Rally Novice A: NQ

So, we NQ'ed today. It was totally my fault, unlike that epic time we NQ'ed in regular Novice A. That time, I had just taken Juno off leash for the heel free, and Dad, sitting outside the ring, decided to get up and move closer. All that mattered to Juno was he moved, and she absolutely booked it out of the ring to make sure he wasn't leaving. The end!

Today we were doing rally, which is different in that you can chirp to and encourage your dog all you want. You also have to follow signs that tell you what exercises to do and in what order, while in regular obedience, the judge follows you around murmuring directions. We've got our CD, which is the regular Novice title, but Juno isn't quite ready for Open, since we haven't had a chance to work on the broad jump. She also takes forever to do the drop part of drop on recall.

Anyway, since I waited till the last second to send in our registration, we were the last competitors in the last group of the day. So we were waiting around for a while, about 4 hours or so. The session officially started at about 1:00; we didn't even leave our house until 1:00. We swung by the storage unit to grab my folding Michigan chair (I always forget a chair for these things, and I'm always sorry), then headed for San Jose.

Magically we didn't have to pay for parking at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds and I got a freaking awesome parking spot. We actually found an open spot near the rally ring perfect for my chair and Juno's cushy mat. I love these trials—the only place other than a baseball stadium where I am actively social with strangers. You make temporary friends ringside, whoever you're sitting next to, and then of course anytime I see anyone with a Doberman I have to go over and say hi.

Dobie people, at least in my experience, are invariably friendly and lovely. We met a red boy, a red girl, and a black boy. The red boy was so handsome. Just the sweetest face. Big boy too. The black boy and red girl were littermates and their human mom is a breeder. Their biological mom has so many achievement letters on the back of her name it's ridiculous. And the brother and sister went 1-2 in Novice B.

So, we were Novice A. There were about eight other dogs, and only two got qualifying scores. Juno and I tried to stay warmed up but I don't think I did a proper job of it. Once we got in the ring, she was lagging, bigtime—that is our chronic problem. I get hella nervous, going in, and naturally Juno's response to me amping up in that way is for her to get super chilled out. I'm not gonna complain: Given the trade-off between having a great obedience dog OR a great service dog, I'm picking the second one, no question.

Other than the tight leash/lagging, we did fine, so I'm not upset about the NQ really at all. (Just a little grumpy at myself.) Juno did everything I asked her to, including the two new behaviors she had to learn for rally—"around," the Schutzhund turn, and "park," a right-hand finish. (I got "park" from the book Clara: The Early Years, which is about a hilariously spoiled pug. You should read it.) Most of the other dogs in our group had their noses glued to the carpet, since it was full of a day's worth of strange-dog smells. Junebug avoided that pitfall. Boy, I can't wait for the day Kaline has a leave it like Juno's!

Anyway, tomorrow we'll have a different judge and a different set of exercises. I'll try her on her slip collar rather than her big martingale, see if that makes a difference. Oh, and I won't forget my damn bait bag. I packed up two full ones today and left them both at home. (Luckily, they always have free kibble samples at the fairgrounds, and Juno gets almost as psyched for kibble as for bait.)

Outside the ring, let it be said that Juno was a champ. She had to do some bracing because my Michigan chair is pretty low to the ground. It was cold and I was stressed, so my muscles were pretty stiff and painful. She was picking up anything I dropped, helping me get my jacket off (too bad she can't help get it on), just being a star. Not even so much as a stinkeye at any other dog, and a lot of them will just kinda come up to you, though the owners always get them back fast. She did a lovely calm down-stay while I did my walk-through without her in the ring too.

I was planning to take Kaline to a movie when we got home, but we got home a lot later than I expected, and somehow being ringside and just sitting for most of several hours has totally exhausted me. So we are all just chilling out together for the evening. I can't wait till I can take Kaline to competitions. I get so excited when I see all the super-focused sweetie-pie Dobermans being stars in the ring, cause maybe that'll be Kay someday! All the Dobie people pronounced him very cute upon viewing his pictures. Heehee.

Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow!

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