Sunday, January 24, 2010

RE Title!

Well we did it - qualified for the last leg of our RE title today =) We didn't place this time... a score of 87. Would've had a 97 if we wouldn't have screwed up the Back Up 3 Steps station. For one, it was right after a jump, which is ridiculous in itself. We tried it the first time, and Red moved out of position. Turned around, tried it again, and he did the same thing. So I said "screw it" and just took the IP for 10 points. god I HATE that freaking station, lol... oh well, we still qualified so that's all I care!

I was saying in yesterday's post about how big the venue was - that it was like something you see on TV. I've never been to this large of a show before so it was really cool.

*Click thumbnails to enlarge photos*

Here's the crating area for the obedience/rally rings. You can see Red sitting in front of his crate.


Red in front of the obedience rings


Just one of the grooming areas for the conformation dogs


Some of the conformation rings



A weight pulling demonstration with Alaskan Malamutes


The duck herding ring


The crating area for the flyball teams


Flyball - this was really cool to watch, and so exciting!



I didn't get a professional photo for our RE title (the nutcase photographer wanted $50 to email me a digital file! what a ripoff!) so I had some random bystander take our photo instead :)


And no completion of a title would be complete without treating Redders to some McDonalds hamburgers! :D (I didn't realize you can see me in the video until I watched it back.. :/ )

(facebook users click here to view the video:

Red at home showing off all his regular placement and qualifying ribbons (not counting the rosettes) for Rally and Obedience :)


Saturday, January 23, 2010

2 Down, 1 To Go

Red and I had 2 Rally shows today (going for our Rally Excellent title), one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So it was a long day, but it was fun. It's held at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, MI (formerly known as the Novi Expo Center) - a huge building, though very nice inside. Even the bathrooms were really nice!

The shows started on Thursday and go through tomorrow (Sunday) - from everything from conformation, obedience, and Rally, to flyball, duck herding, and weight pulling! I was amazed - I never knew there was such a thing as duck herding, LOL!

We arrived at about 8:00am since the Excellent walkthrough was at 9:00am. I parked near where I thought was the door, but ended up being further away from the actual entrance we wer allowed to go in. I hauled in all our stuff first - crate, bags, etc - before bringing Red in, and realize I forgot my folding chair (dammit!!).

When I walked in the door, I was a little overwhelmed. The place is HUGE. And packed. Wall to wall with crates, grooming tables, and supplies. Evidently, this is where the conformation dogs were being kept and prepped for the breed ring. I've been to shows with conformation before, but never like this - it was like what you see on TV. People bustling around everywhere with perfect, beautiful dogs on tables and in tow. Really neat to see!

I find my way over to the obedience/rally area which consisted of 4 rings. One ring for each Novice, Open, and Utility Obedience, and the other ring for Rally. I spotted a friend of mine who I train with, John and his German Shepherd Jackson, so I set up camp next to him. He and Jackson had gotten there not too much before me and would be competing in the Utility ring in the morning and afternoon for their 2nd leg.

After I got everything set up, and stripped off my coat, scarf and gloves (because I was sweating by now), I went back out the car to get Red. He was super excited, as usual, to know we were going to be doing something fun today. But he was very well-behaved and seems to know the correct way to act when there are large crowds and other dogs around. We wound are way to our "camp", and he knows exactly which crate is his and goes straight into it to make sure its the same as always.

(click to enlarge)

We played for a little while and did a couple exercises, then took him for a quick walk around the building. I love looking at all the booths and vendors selling dog mechandise - everything from show collars and leads, to toys, jewelry, food, beds, and other neat keepsakes. Somethings you can get a good deal on, but for the most part, everything is a bit overpriced. Michelle, my mentor and who showed her Wheaten Terrier Maisy, in Open Obedience this weekend, said there was a booth with sparkly shirts in different breeds - so I found the booth and the guy also had really neat keychains. There was a model for each breed made out of leather, and there was a brown leather Doberman! I didn't have my cash on me at the moment, so I told the guy I'd be back later. Red and I made our way back to our crate and I put him in to chill for a bit so I could sign in and get the course map for our first run.

As some of you may remember, we have already trialed in Excellent and should've earned our title by now, but I had registered us for the A classes thinking since I had never titled a dog in Rally Excellent before, that that was the correct class. But once you get any Obedience title, you automatically have to move into the B classes for Rally and trial with the "big boys" so to speak - meaning the more experienced dogs and handlers. So since our 3 Excellent runs didn't count before, we are doing them all again this weekend: 2 today and 1 tomorrow.

The course map was decent - no funky stations (like the backup 3 steps or the offset figure 8) and pretty easy to navigate. I walked it probably at least 4 times during the walkthrough and was comfortable I wouldn't get lost. I liked the ring conditions - noisy and a lot of distractions - which sounds counter-intuitive but I really hate when its silent, everyone is watching you, and you can hear a pin drop. I love being able to talk at a normal volume, play obnoxiously with my dog, and not feel like all eyes are on me...

They started with the Excellent A class first, which only had like 3 dogs, then went to Excellent B, which had a few more but not many. Red and I were the last team to go. Also in our class was "Mr. Rally" (as we like to call him) - an older gentlemen who is a Rally judge himself (I showed under him once and he is TOUGH!) and trains Golden Retrievers in Rally and Obedience. He is at every show I've ever been to and always gets 1st place in his class with perfect scores.

I didn't have anyone to video our run, but it was just as well - I feel less nervous when I know I'm not being "watched". I fed Red the last few bits of hotdog as the team before us had a couple signs to go. I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to choke them up in the ring and NQ us again! Thankfully, he kept everything down and we set up in starting position and removed his leash.

He did fine - though is always much more subdued in the ring than he is under normal circumstances, has his ears down like he's afraid to dong something wrong while off-leash. But the good thing about Rally is you can talk to the dog as much as you want, so he kept up and did what he was told at each station. There was a little bumping through the cones exercises, but didnt knock me off my feet or anything, so that was fine with me. We finished and we hopped around a little to celebrate before heading to the Honor position while the next dog set up.

The Honor exercise is what made me nervous. For those that don't know, the dog who just trialed, has to hold either a sit/stay or down/stay (specified by th judge) in a corner of the ring while the next team runs the course. The dog is on a 6 foot leash and you have to stand at the end of the leash in front of the dog, facing it, until the team finishes their run. Red kept shifting around and was slightly panting (nervous, I'm guessing) and seemed really uncomfortable. Of course the team we were Honoring was slow as hell, but he held it. He got himself a jackpot and ran back to our crate and pulled his favorite tug out of the bag all by himself, LOL.

We made our way back to the ring so they could hand out ribbons. Our score was the only one not written on the board, so I had no idea how we did, though I figured we must've at least qualified. There were 4 of us that qualified. First place went to Mr. Rally and his Golden with a score of 99. Second place was announced with a score of 98 and it was me and Red! I was shocked! I can't believe we almost beat Mr. Perfect Rally and Perfect Golden, and held our own against them in the B class! After we accepted our ribbons, Red and I ran back to the crate to do some more celebrating and goofing off =) Unfortunately, John and Jackson didn't qualify in Utility, but they still had another show to go today. I took Red to the closest vendor and bought a deflated squirrel stuffy to shake and kill and meaty knuckle bone to chew in his crate. After that, Red went into his crate with his bone and I decided to tour the breed rings and vendors more closely.

After hitting the restroom, I heard and insane amount of barking coming from one end of the huge building. I made my way over there and saw that they were doing flyball. Flyball is an agility-type sport which requires the dogs to sprint over several jumps, hit a springboard with a tennis ball loaded in it, and bring the tennis ball back over the jumps. Only its EXTREMELY fast. Think of little Italian greyhounds and other small dogs appearing as blurs as they streak down the straightaway, over jumps, pounding the springboard, and tearing back off the way the came. It's amazing to watch - seeing it on TV just doesn't do it justice. All the barking and noise, it transpired, was issuing from the dogs in crates on the sidelines, going berserk at the sight of these dogs running a billion miles and hour back for forth in front of them.

Deciding to go see what other surprises this show held, I went back the way I came and passed an odd little paddock with different pens and even a childs slide ending in a blue kiddie pool. The sign said it was for the "duck herding" event. Something I've never even heard of. Unfortunately, it was empty at the moment so I didn't get to see what would've been a very amusing display. Next to this was the weight pulling ring, in which stood a large flatbed trailer-like thing piled high with 40 lb bags of dog food. Again, nothing was happening here so unfortunately, I didn't get to see how it works.

I went back and bought the leather Doberman keychain, and bought a soft pretzel, since I was starting to get hungry. The pretzel was not very good - tasted like it had been sitting there for awhile, but it was something in my belly. I made my way back to our crate and shared my pretzel with Jackson and Red. At least they thought it was worth eating =)

We sat around for a little while, and then Michelle and Maisy arrived. She already had her crate set up from the night before. She was really nervous since today was to be Maisy's last leg for her CDX title. They qualified for the 2nd leg just this past Thursday. Maisy was her normal happy Wheaten self, but Michelle was a nervous wreck! She chatted for a bit, then went to sit with Maisy by her crate. They were set to start the Open class at 12:30pm, and my next Rally run didn't start til 1pm, so I said I'd video their run. They did great and made it through - though you don't want to celebrate too early until sits/downs are over with... They started late so I was trying to watch Michelle and Maisy, yet make sure we didn't miss our run too. After videoing their run, I went and checked in to get my armband and the course map.

This course wasn't bad either - at least it didn't have the crappy stations that I hate - but it had a couple that I thought may be tougher since we haven't practiced them - the 180 Left Pivot and the Halt-Side Step Right-Halt. Everything else looked decent. I thought we could still pull off and qualifying score for our 2nd leg.

After running the walkthrough 3 or so times, I flitted over to try to catch Michelle and Maisy's sits/downs. I was just in time to see the 5 minute down start and Maisy was doing great so far. Meantime, they were starting Rally and there was only 1 dog in the A class, then started B and there were 8 dogs there, and we were last. But I didn't want to cut it too close. Pretty much only had time to quickly congratulate Michelle on getting their 3rd leg and CDX title, then had to run back and get Red out to get warmed up.

I wasn't sure how he was going to do the 2nd time around - we've never done 2 shows on 1 day before. But he was spunky just like he was earlier. Another friend, Jen, came without her dog Libby, to watch Michelle and Maisy and came over to the Rally ring to watch Red and I. She held onto the treat bag for me while we went.

Apparently the judge had been calling us to see if we could be the Honor dog for the first team, but I was over at the Open ring so I didn't realize. I was afraid she was going to be annoyed and count it against us, or at least judge us harder. So when I went into the ring, I apologized and told her I didn't realize she was calling me and I'm really sorry. But she was completely fine and said it worked out and not to worry.

So off we went. Again, a little bumping on the cones, but not too bad. The signs I was leery about didn't go half bad and he at least was mostly in position for both of them. We finished, had a little party, then went to do the Honor exercise. Again, we get the team who is slow and the dog wanders all over the place. I one point I thought he was going to approach us, but thankfully never did. We ended without incident and then sped off to get a quick jackpot and some toy flinging out of our system =)

We were called back into the ring - I think 7 teams qualified this time. Mr. Rally and Perfect Golden got 1st place with a perfect score of 100, of course. And 2nd place was a score of 98 and went too... me and Red - AGAIN! I was floored - I didn't think we had gotten that high of a score. What a surprise! I kinda wish I had videoed them now, but oh well. I'm just happy to have 2 of our 3 legs under our belt!

It had been a long day, so it was time to pack up and go. I wanted to congratulate Michelle again, but I didn't see her anywhere and I didn't want to have to pull Red through all the crowds again to try and find her. I felt bad for leaving without being able to see goodbye.

Red got another jackpot in the car, as he always does and then settled in for a quiet ride home =) My Redders - Super Dog and and Best Dog Ever!!


Wish us luck tomorrow!