Monday, April 24, 2006

UDC 2006 -- Friday & Saturday

I was too busy and then too tired to post, so here's a recap....

Friday was another conformation day for us (I didn't have a dog ready for Obedience). This time Laev took third in her class of three and received a G rating. The first place dog from the day before took first again, but with a VG rating instead of an E. Judge Catherine Thompson said that Laev had a very correct tail set, etc., but that she was just out-matured in this class -- which was very true! Especially considering that we didn't come to win anything, we aren't losing any sleep over it.

Shakespeare again took first in his class of one (though it's possible for an inferior dog to receive a lower placing in a class of one, so I don't entirely take it for granted) and another G rating. He has an extra tooth, both judges pointed out. And again, Best of Opposite Sex. :-)

Friday late afternoon we took the dogs for SAR evaluations. I was really curious to see how Laev would fare; Shakespeare got to do an evaluation just to keep him from sitting bored in the crate, and so I could see his specific reations to part of the testing. I know he doesn't have the temperament to pull of a search of several hours, but the testing could show me other things about how he's progressed.

Laev aced the testing. The evaluators loved her, told me that she could do anything. She was "very nice" for a 14-month-old puppy. One team member came back later to ask if I were going to breed her, and I told him that I'd never said never but had no plans to do so at this time. He returned later to ask about Laev's breeder and to get contact information, because he liked her nerve so well.

Shakespeare fared through the first part of the test just as I thought he would; social, calm, indifferent to the other dog, curious but indifferent to the strange noises, the milling people, strange footing, etc. But I was very pleased with his later testing -- he fired right up to play with me, was more than happy to play with the stranger, and even went in search of the "lost" stranger with his toy, something I really wasn't sure he'd care about. Even after he discovered that he could stretch out and RUN after a week of being on-leash or crated, something I was sure would spell the end of his interest in playing with a dumb old toy, he came right back and tugged with us. Not bad for a dog who had to be clicked into taking a tug into his mouth in the beginning!

Friday night was the silent auction, which kept me busy, and the draw party for the IPO trial the next day. Nerve attack! Why was I suddenly so nervous about this? We were tracking the next day, and I was suddenly jittery. Wow.

Saturday morning, the T3/IPO3 and T2/IPO2 tracks were run before the T1/IPO1s. (IPO is a flavor of Schutzhund, for lack of a better explanation.) So we had a couple of hours to stand around and get nervous. :-) When our turn finally came, we went to the T1 field and laid tracks.

I should point out here that our field was sloping and occasionally hilly -- something the dogs should be trained to deal with. We also had a crosswind, occasionally brisk but generally mild. The dogs also should be able to deal with that. We also had, we counted up afterward, FIVE bitches in heat in the dozen or so vehicles parked at the top of the hill. Most of the dogs apparently weren't prepared to deal with that.

Not one dog passed the T1. We scored a 63; I thought two others scored in the 60s, but the website results say 30 and 60, and another dog with a 10. Shakespeare did find both articles, which pleased me, but he was obviously working the scent cone toward them rather than tracking ground scent, and occasionally he paused to sniff the lovely smells drifting down the hill...!

He got lost at one point and stopped working completely, standing 20' off the track with his head up. I stood quietly, not sure if I were permitted to give another command to track, and waited. Time passed. Thank goodness for clicker training, because at the end of that 33' line, Shakespeare realized that we were both standing still, and maybe he should offer something, now? I recognized the body language. And as he moved, lo! there's a track here!

I thought we'd passed, just squeaking into qualifying, but the judge said 63. Oh, well.

I also realized just how much Shakespeare hates trials. I've always known that he hates trialling, which is why he stresses badly and does not score well, but he made it very obvious on Saturday. He had no problem whatsoever with the impartiality test (which all dogs must pass before being allowed to compete that day), but as soon as I started him toward the head of the track and he saw a judge standing there with a clipboard, he tried to turn back to the car. He came with me when I asked, because he's a great dog, but it was a real shock to me to realize just how much he hated it. I was upset by it -- what kind of handler am I to torture my dog thus? For something he'll never understand, a mere couple of letters?

So, maybe that was his last working trial. I suppose I might do our own club trial, maybe, but I won't push it. We'll keep doing Rally, which he likes, and maybe Agility if convenient, but I'm not going to push him into something he hates. I'm in this because it's fun, not for personal aggrandizement, and there's no reason to force him to be uncomfortable just so I can have another title under my belt.

Still, now he's FO UCD Shakespeare To Go CD CGC BH WAC TDI RL1-CL RL2 RN ATT, so I guess that shows that I loved him enough to play with him. :-) And Laev has her first letters ever, Ascomannis Laevatein YTT, as it's common to indicate that a dog has passed the temperament testing.

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