The weekend didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned but it worked out ok. Vada and I entered our first APDT rally trial. My club was hosting it and there weren’t any Dutch Shepherds registered. I figured Vada could be the first. I thought we could squeeze the trials in before Schutzhund since it was supposed to start at 9:30am after the CDSP obedience trials. And the running order was Trial 1 Level 1 then Trial 2 Level 1. They needed help with stewards so I offered to come early and help with that too. Well, the obedience trials had a good sized entry and went really late. And rally is very slow moving. I’m not sure why but it is. So I ended up not being able to go to SchH training on Saturday or Sunday. But we had a good time anyways, I learned alot about a new spot and Vada earned her RL1. Karl worked on Saturday too. He stayed to watch Vada’s runs and help with getting portraits taken of Copper. I wanted pics of him now since he’s feeling better. They didn’t turn out exactly how I was hoping they would. But maybe I have unrealistic expectations. Maybe the spirit and life that I see in him is not able to be captured in a picture or maybe not when he is in a stay. I should get them in a week or two. Mary edits photos very well. She also said she can make his whole muzzle white. He lost hair follicles on the side of his muzzle where he received radiation and his skin pigment is black. It’s very noticeable. I don’t mind though. I’d rather he have that on his muzzle than the tumors. He has been feeling TONS better the last few days. I think he’s finally recovering from all the stress of the last few months. Hopefully I can start to recover now too.
Our first run on Saturday. I was really nervous. I enter it like no big deal. I read the rules/sign descriptions twice. Haven’t practiced or done a rally class. But then I get in the ring and get nervous and worry about making fools of me and my dog. Silly girl! Vada get a bit nervous inside. We are use to training outside or in big areas. And after watching the videos I realize how much background noise there is. We don’t have that outside. Parts of the course felt really tight too. Very different than Schutzhund which is long heeling patterns across a football field sized field. But rally does work to keep her attention. I remembered after a bit that I could talk to her too and help keep her focus on me. I also realized that we are in need of some major polishing up in our heeling. Lots of looking around and not super drivey. But no barking which was nice. The one exercise where I have not really taught her the skill needed is the around finish or finish to the right. I worked on it at agility class and a few other times but I have not “taught” it to her. It is apparent in the video. We squeaked by but it wasn’t pretty. On this run I lost 6 points on that exercise. I also lost points for putting down her leash on the down and walk around exercise – not sure why I did that. I also lost points on making my 360 circles too big. I was worried about making them too small as the rules said hula hoop size circles. Maybe for the dog? On the final exercise, which is a bonus for a possible 10 additional points, I had never practiced that with her. You are not allowed to turn your shoulder back at all. She just did not know which side to come to as I was not giving her help and in agility I work her on both sides. I realized on Sunday that I had put my leash in my right hand on Saturday. Sunday I put it in my left hand and she came into heel position perfectly. She’s soooo keen on the little tiny details. That works in our favor if I am paying attention. I was glad that I looked at my score sheet as I was able to clean up my handling points for the rest of the weekend. We scored a 192 and 5th place. I did not tug with her before we went in but afterwards we went outside and tugged. We both needed to release our stress energies! We were both calmer for our 2nd run.
This was our 2nd run on Saturday. I was calmer. I’m not sure what our score would have been if we had not NQd but I’m sure it would have been a good score. I should have looked at my sheet to learn from it. I think what makes rally hard is that you have to read and do the signs, follow the numbers so you don’t miss a sign and stay connected with your dog all at the same time. It’s alot of work mentally. Maybe it would be easier if I knew the signs better and didn’t worry as much that I would do one wrong (like I did at the UKC rally trial – stupid finish w/half vs no halt). Our NQ was when she was supposed to stay sitting as I walked around her. I gave her a 2nd sit command and so she thought she was doing something wrong and turned to go with me and stay in heel position. On Sunday I used a stay command (even though she really should have just stayed with no command – handler habits are hard to break) and we were good. So, I take the blame for our goof. I thought the rest was nice. She wasn’t certain what we were doing on the bonus exercise and kind of went to front and then finish. On Sunday when we encountered that sign again I helped her out by taking a bigger more obvious step over and by giving her a bit of a cue in front of me.
On Sunday we had a 196 and 2nd place and then a 208 and 1st place to finish our RL1 title. She is an amazing girl who is great about handling whatever crazy things I throw at her. She’s getting “around” and is liking it alot.
On the way home since it was gorgeous out and we had missed 2 possible Schutzhund sessions, I stopped at a park to train. It’s so nice this time of year. Cool enough to train but warm enough to not freeze. No bugs. No kids. And no organized sports. Great time for tracking and training obedience at parks! I realized that I need to make a better point to proof Vada to get a better performance out of her. She’s bored and it’s easy for her. I also realized that I tend to stick to exercises/skills that are comfortable. I have to remind myself to work on Open and Utility exercises and to start making that a priority. I brought Letty out on leash in case she got any ideas of taking off. She still might if there was a dog or running kid or rocket ship flying through the sky. But I was very happy with how focused she was on me and how she stayed engaged with me the whole time. It’s so nice to see things starting to come together! She had trouble staying in a sit when we did the 1-2-3-Ready game since it was in a new place. I backed up but probably a rep or two too late and she was stressing. She is a puppy! I forget that alot. Then I took Copper out for a short walk to sniff smells at the park.
Both days I napped! Saturday night we stayed home and made dinner. Both uncommon events. It was nice.
Copper went and saw Dr. Heather on Thursday as his neck was out but on the right this time. He was improved from the day that he hurt it but still was off. She said his back was MUCH improved. She adjusted him and did acupuncture. He held still a bit better this time. He’s been feeling great the last few days. It’s like I have my old dog back again. I love to see that spark in his eye. I don’t think Karl’s as crazy about it since Copper barks at him to make his dinner faster. We had agility class that night and on the drive up there I dialed in on my laptop and listened to Susan Garrett’s Recallers Course conference call.
Yesterday I took my van into the shop and got a bunch of repairs done on it so we’re all set to hit the road to Omaha tomorrow. It has 253K miles on it so it’s doing pretty darn good! I’m excited for my spring vacation to start.
Friday I took Letty out tracking at a park near my house. She’s getting the hang of it. I’ll probably do a few more puppy tracks and then start doing some straight lines and scent pads. We do club tracking (way down in Saint Peter – 2 hours away) on the 30th so I’ll need something on a line by then.