"THE BOY LIKES RALLY"-- March 31, 2007
As usual, this blog is long overdue. It will be a bit different because it will focus on both Acacia’s and Bing’s recent accomplishments.
In the middle of February, Pete and I drove with Acacia and Bing to Virginia so I could judge an APDT rally trial at Pup ‘N Iron. What a great weekend we had!
The drive down was hairy (not from the dogs!) because we drove right after that first terrible icy storm. Many people didn’t bother to clean off the tops of their cars, and even more truckers did the same. Shame on them. The result was that we never knew when a huge slab of ice was going to fly off the top of a vehicle and into our windshield. We passed quite a few cars which had pulled over or crashed because of this. I’m not even going to describe the traffic jam we hit after going through Washington, D.C. GRRR!
Well, we arrived in good condition at Laurie Williams’ training center, checked out her lovely facility, then checked into our hotel. Whew!
The next morning, Acacia was the very first dog to trial, at 8am. She qualified nicely with a score of 191 in Level 2. She needed two QQs (a QQ is a score of over 190 in Level 1 and Level 2 at the same trial) for her ARCH (APDT Rally Champion), and we had a chance to do that during the weekend.
I then brought Bing into the ring for his run. My only goal for Bing was to give him experience in the ring. We don’t have many opportunities to attend group classes, so environments where there are lots of dogs are overwhelming for him. Always running on jet fuel, Bing moved at extra quick speed! His heeling was crazy and very rough, and at times he was very wide from me. He did, however, manage to complete all the elements in the course. He was slightly distracted by the food bowls but I was able to call him away from them. Much to my surprised, he managed to score nicely with a 194. Wow! He outscored his sister! Pete was not able to witness this amazing feat, so when I told him the result, and the implication that he only needs one more leg for his Level 2 title, he said, “That’s sick!” We both rolled with laughter!
This particular ring was set up so that all dogs were in the next room when not running. While this worked very much to my benefit for Bing (since he LOVES to play with other dogs), it presented a unique challenge for Acacia. Regular attendees to Pup ‘N Iron have been taught to look away from dogs who are in the ring. Acacia quickly realized that every person she looked at seemed to be suspicious; they looked down, stopped moving, or moved slowly. She found this immensely freaky, and at one point during one of her Level 2 runs, she caught the eye of one person and stared at her. When the person didn’t move, Acacia left my side and went over to the ring gate to investigate the person. When the person continued to ignore her, she returned to me and continued to work, but also continued to be frazzled by these odd people. While this behavior upset me, it did not surprise me. Once reactive, always reactive.
I then judged a class or two, and Acacia competed in Level 1, qualifying with a score of 200. Much better!, she was on a leash and seemed to be a bit more relaxed about the strange people. This was a QQ! We only needed one more for our ARCH!
However, the day was very long, and while I performed my judging responsibilities, Pete was left to entertain the dogs. They walked around outside, took turns in the car and in the building, etc. But they were not accustomed to this routine, and by the time we were able to trial again, it was after 7pm. Frustrated by the routine, rammy from being cooped up most of the day and the day before, our runs were not pretty. Acacia managed a 206 for her second Level 1 run…only one more qualifying Level 2 score and we would have our ARCH! But it was not to be so. At 7:45pm, nearly 12 hours after her first run of the day, we tried our hand and paw at the second Level 2 course. Judge Cindi Nicotera had to stifle a laugh as each of my cues for ‘down’ was met with a blank stare at my finger (pointing at the ground). I waited and waited, refusing to ask again, as I stood there, bent over, exposing my arse to all who watched…and Acacia…simply…stared. Sigh. I decided at that time to not allow her to quit on me, and we pushed our way through the course, even though we NQd. In retrospect, it was very unfair of me to ask her to do this course, because I knew what her response would be. I walked away feeling like I had really abused our wonderful relationship, all for my own greed.
When we finished, Pete swapped Bing for Acacia, and he took Acacia outside while I gave Bing about 30 seconds to settle into being with me. Such a long day, and such a silly boy! He hopped and squealed and jumped around in his usual frantic happy fashion. Unlike Acacia, who needs to be revved up before going into the ring, Bing needs to just stand or sit around, look around, do some hand targeting, and breathe for about 10 minutes. This time, he didn’t get that opportunity, and in we went. I had no expectations at all. His behavior was a repeat of his first trial of the day, even down to the score. Bing got another 194….and his Level 2 title!!!!! YAY FOR BING!!!
I just couldn’t believe it! This little dog hardly even knows ‘heel’ (completely my fault)! Actually, he has a good idea of ‘heel’ but we have not generalized it to distracting environments. This weekend was my opportunity to play with him in this regard. For the first time in my trialing career, I was in no rush to gain titles, but here he was, with his Level 2 title at age of 21 months! This boy likes rally!
The next day, Sunday, we had more opportunities to trial in between my judging duties. The day was going to be shorter, and Acacia only needed one QQ. I planned to only run Bing in Level 2 one time, earlier in the day. Acacia decided that she would play along with me, and gave me a 206 in Level 2 and a 200 in Level 1, and an ARCH!!!! WAHOO!!! I was soooo proud of her!!!
Bing, however, really suffered in the focus department on Sunday. I found myself repeating cues once, sometimes twice, on many exercises. He wanted to look around and sniff the ground, which indicated to me that he was exhausted from the trip, the dogs, the distractions, etc. Amazingly, he qualified for a championship leg with a 183. He completed all the required exercises, even with all the distractions. I thanked him, and resolved to work more on heeling and distractions. Many dogs would have run out of the ring, started to run zoomies around the ring, or just shut down (as Acacia did the night before) but Bing loves to work with me. I know he loves rally, and I know what his weaknesses are, so we will continue our journey!
We began our trip home with fistfuls of ribbons and beautiful portraits of the dogs which Pete lovingly had done while I was judging (see previous blog for Bing’s portrait). It was a clear blue sky as we tuned into the weather station. The current weather in Washington, D.C? Heavy snow. HOW was that possible??? We figured it was a mistake. We were wrong. We hit horrible heavy snow which sent us on detours away from I-95 and expanded our journey time by several hours. Eventually we made it home, safe and sound, and with much pride at the events of the weekend.
Not long afterward, we received in the mail our certificates. Acacia’s RL1X and ARCH. Bing’s Level 2 title. And something more….
Bing got an Award of Excellence for Level 2! This means that he got scores of over 190 for each of his qualifying legs (which were consecutive) for that title! Now THAT’S sick!
Acacia ranked 4th in the country for championship points for dogs who had achieved a Level 3 title in 2006! Holy cow! I was tickled pink…I had no idea! As it turns out, she actually unofficially ranked 3rd in the country for championship points for dogs who achieved Level 3 title plus any individual level championship (she got her RL1X in October 2006 but for some reason it was not officially documented until after the end of the year). I don’t mind at all the difference; either way, she really shines in rally!
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