Tomorrow Phoenix and I debut in Utility. I'm excited! Utility has always been my favorite class to train for, show in and teach. I think it's because my first Utility dog, Jess, was so insane and loved it so much and it left a lasting imprint on my mind - Utility rocks. Plus I really like the whole instant gratification of knowing that you either passed or you didn't when your run is over, no agonizing wait for sits and downs.
I haven't shown in Utility for 4 years. Yikes! Jamie retired from regular obedience in the early summer of 2007. Wow. That was a long time ago. Phoenix will be the first dog I've shown in Utility since the rules changed so every exhibitor gets the same glove on the Directed Retrieve. No more obsessing about which glove we'll get - it will be posted ring side along with the order of exercises.
Are Phoenix and I ready? Yes! I think one of the reasons I'm looking forward to showing tomorrow is because I don't care if we Q. My goal for the weekend is to find what exercises Phoenix can generalize and perform with confidence in a new environment. Utility is a class that demands a lot of training in new places around new distractions to really hone the dog's focus. We've done a little of that but I'm looking forward to warm weather and hauling jumps and ring gates all over the place.
So we'll go in the ring tomorrow and do our best. No pressure. No setting myself up for unrealistic expectations. He's young. He's green. He's also freaking brilliant in training, a creative thinker and a clever problem solver. I can't wait to see where our teamwork takes us. If we Q, awesome! If we don't, we train some more and try it again.
Plus I have friends showing in every single class from Novice A to Utility B. Good luck to everyone showing at DeWitt this weekend: Michele/Cider, Carrie/Addie, Tracy/Rogue, Pam/Chance, Paula/Petra, Johnette/Rufus, SueAnn/Willow and Becky/Ninya (I think?) and anyone else I might have missed.
And the concession stand has the most amazing homemade pie . . .