Okay, this pic isn't from this weekend. It's from Phoenix's 1st UD leg at DeWitt. Thanks, Sheryl, for capturing him doing what is probably his very most favorite exercise.
Then the Skinny Little Dog went and got UD leg #2 at the ICDOC trials at Amana over the weekend! Not only that, we tied for 2nd place in a class of 30 dogs. We lost the run-off (against Joanne Johnson) but honestly, I don't care! It felt so good to have everything come together and I think I could actually hear our teamwork clicking. Or maybe that was Nix's teeth, since there was a great deal of leaping and bouncing and sleeve grabbing between exercises.
It was a 3-day trial. Utility on Friday went very badly. We both seemed out of sync and at odds with each other. I wouldn't say nothing good came of that run because it really highlighted the need to for me to make him understand how important giving EFFORT is. Even if he makes a mistake, if he's trying, that's all I want.
Utility on Saturday was entirely different. Phoenix was all business, acted like he'd been doing this Utility stuff for years. Fronts and finishes were about 50/50 and yeah, there are always things that need work, but I was so totally proud of him. THIS was the dog I trained! (Sometimes the dog I trained disappears when I go in the ring - I think the fairies steal him. But they always bring him back.)
Sunday went awesome right up until the last exercise: scent discrimination. Just as he got out to the pile, a group of Open B people left for group stays and walked by our ring. Apparently people doing a mass exodus from the building was the most fascinating thing Phoenix has ever seen in his life. He froze in the pile, staring at the people going out the door. Then he forgot what he was doing. Total. Absolute. Space-out.
He stared at me. I stared at him. He stared at me. I stared at the mats, the jumps, the wall, the article pile and the judge. The judge stared at me. Finally, he shrugged. I gave a second command to find it. Phoenix looked at me like, "Oh! Yeah! Articles! Right! I get it now!" And he did. Good boy.
Our mistakes over the weekend were green Utility dog mistakes. I knew going into it that I had not exposed him to working in enough different environments where distractions might not be aimed directly at him but would be distracting nonetheless. We'll find some flying monkeys to train with this week.
It was a learning weekend, another leg in the journey.
And I am super proud of all my "agility friends" (sorry for the stereotype, you know who you are) who came to play obedience games for three days and finished Rally Novice, Beginner Novice and Novice A titles. Carrie/Addie, Michele/Packer, Barb/Coz and Marsha/Vinnie, you guys rock!
And there was great pie, too, from the gal who catered our food.
Hopefully, more trial pics coming soon.
And in spite of the predictions of dire weather all weekend, the tornadoes, hail and high wind happened to the west and the east of us, leaving us unscathed (except for the 85 degree high on Sunday, which was just plain freaky, it's only April for pete's sake).