Another autumn ritual is the Iowa State Cyclones vs Iowa Hawkeyes intrastate college football rivalry. I would be acting in a manner very unbecoming an Iowa State graduate if I didn't take this moment to let you know that the CYCLONES KICKED MAJOR HAWKEYE ASS ON SATURDAY AND WON AFTER THREE OVERTIMES!
This from a team who is the perennial underdog in the rivalry and usually slinks home with their tail tucked between their legs. Fans sigh and mutter "There's always next year," although we know next year will probably bring more of the same. Hell, we're just happy if we get on the scoreboard and it's not a total shut-out. Cyclone football is not exactly the powerhouse of the Big 12.
Okay, back to the Des Moines shows. The Belgians and I set off on Friday morning with R2 loaded to the ceiling. I think he looked like one of those clown cars where you open the doors and everything comes flying out. I just hoped we made it to Des Moines before anything started popping out of windows or the sunroof. You laugh but I had show gear and camping gear for 2 big dogs and 1 person for 3 days. Just getting packed and loaded up was a major undertaking.
The camping was great. Perfect weather - dry, sunny days and cool nights. Since my Mountain Hardware tent is still on the DL after breaking a pole last fall (um . . . I had a whole year to fix it . . . guess THAT didn't get done) I ended up using the very first tent I ever bought, a cheap little Coleman. It's a great little tent but obviously for use only during fair weather only. If it had rained, things wouldn't have been pretty. The rain fly is a silly little affair that barely covers the screen mesh on two sides.
It was wonderfully cool at night and Phoenix decided he liked sleeping UNDER my unzipped sleeping bag with me. Too funny. I've never had an "under" dog. Jamie thinks it's still too hot when it's 35 degrees and no way does he want to be covered up.
Saturday, Phoenix and I entered Versatility and Wild Card Utility. Before going into Versatility, I let Renee take Phoenix to warm him up. It was another experiment. It was NOT the type of warm up that seems to be fashionable in some parts of the Midwest - handing your dog off to someone who basically abuses it for 10 minutes then hands it back just as you go into the ring. Renee had him do some heeling and finishes and play a little, then delivered him to me as the judge called our number. The goal was to have him happy to be in the ring with me. Even though he likes Renee and she wasn't being horrible to him, he's very much MY dog and was happy to get back to me.
It worked! He WAS happier in the ring and gave me some good attitude and some definitely improved work. We even had a trot-in after the drop on recall (yay!) and a passable Glove #3 turn (double yay!). We ended up placing 3rd out of 10, which was just icing on the cake as he already has his VER title and I'd entered just to work on ring attitude.
We did Wild Card Utility later and used the same approach. It didn't work quite as well the second time. I think Phoenix may have just been pushed to his limit by then, as the show site is very, very demanding and overwhelming in terms of noise and congestion. Ironically, we ended up winning the class with a score of something like 135 points, which was pretty hysterical. His go-outs remained good but the directed jumping part was broken. I'm not sure if it was sensory overload or if he had trouble seeing my signal against a very busy background. He also got stuck on the first article. It was in the center and he was standing with his front paws in the center, working the outside of the pile. On the second article, the judge asked if I would like it back in the middle again and I said absolutely! Phoenix did a better job of checking the WHOLE pile, not just the outside and found it right away. It's great when judges really try to help and aren't just going through the motions.
After much shopping at the vendors (seriously, I need an intervention), eating cookies (the food concession bakes chocolate chip cookies fresh all day long), looking at what everyone else bought at the vendors (okay, maybe I don't need an intervention after all, I'm still an amateur compared to Michele and Beth!) and watching team, everyone headed home and the dogs and I headed to the huge Bass Pro Shop store nearby. It was late enough in the day I found a totally shaded parking spot and the dogs napped while I shopped. Again.
Grabbed supper on the way back to the campgrounds, ate, walked dogs, crawled into the tent and fell asleep by 9 p.m. Phoenix cuddled up under the sleeping bag at some point in the night and we all slept snugly.
The only class we entered today was Versatility. We managed to have our absolutely worst ring entry in the history of obedience. He was bouncing and tugging a toy and we were all ready to go in. I turned to set the toy down and just as the judge called my number, Phoenix plopped down and went butt-scooting across the floor, hind legs sticking up in the air while two little boys ran straight at him, screeching "Can we pet your dog!!!" (Well, at least they asked.)
I got him off his butt and intercepted the two little boys (parents were somewhere in the general vicinity but basically ineffective) and stumbled into the ring. Then things got a lot better - all I wanted was "up" attitude and he delivered. He even did his signals in that zoo! Not every part of every exercise was brilliant but it was a marked improvement over recent performances.
Several times he tried to leave the ring (odd) and he did the butt-scooting thing again between exercises. I know I'd expressed anal glands when he had a bath a couple of weeks ago but the poor guy was clearly having some discomfort. Soon as we got out of the ring I took him outside and he had a major dump. Figures. He'd already pooped once this morning and he'd been out a couple of other times and didn't have to go but guess obedience is just stressful that way.
It's good to be home.