Mom and Mike met us there - coming all the way from Grand Rapids - which was really cool. Mom came with me last year and made it a lot more enjoyable considering the weather was horrendous... But much nicer weather this year =) No rain, warm but not hot, slight breeze... very good day.
Got there and signed in, paid my money, and chatted with a few people, including Craig from the Doberman forum and got to meet his puppy, Sig - who is an extremely handsome 6 month old black/tan guy =)
We didn't have much time to relax since the judge was ready to go. He took us on a walkthrough of the course and answered any questions anyone had. After that, they got everyone in position, and did some practice shots with the cap gun for the gunshot portion of the test.
Red heard the first shot and immediately went into pitiful dog mode. Tucked his nub and tried to hide behind my lawn chair, but couldn't so tried to wedge in between James and I. They kept firing shots and he was clearly stressed. Red is not afraid of thunderstorms or far-off fireworks, or loud noises, but does get scared when they are close to him.
Then they called the first dog. Apparently they put us in order this time, whereas last year they just took volunteers however they wanted to go. But this year was different, and we were scheduled to go next. Meanwhile, my dog is standing with his ears down and nub tucked... great.
So we go out onto the course when we are called, and start the process. He still seemed somewhat stressed but was doing well. The neutral and friendly strangers went fine, the can rattling was great. After that was the gunshots, which I was really nervous for, but he seemed to tolerate it ok and recovered pretty quickly. The umbrella was great, and the uneven footing was surprisingly good - better than last year. Then the aggressive stranger...
We get up to the van and the guy started shuffling out from behind it. Red heard him, then turned around and sat at my right side with his back to the guy. But when the guy came at us, Red did go out in front between us.
At that moment, I honestly thought we had passed - or at least I was happy he didn't turn around and run like last year! But the judge made it clear right away that he didn't like Red's reaction. He explained that he was exhibiting avoidance behavior at first at the stranger's first appearance, which is essentially what failed him.
He kind of made me feel a little bad afterwards - said I need to work with him more, kinda implying he is under-socialized or something. Being an obedience and therapy dog, he is very socialized to a variety of situations - just not "dangerous" ones. I guess that sort of upset me more than actually failing the test... being told I haven't worked with my dog enough...
Anyway, there's always next year. To be honest, I think he would've done a lot better had we been further back in line, because after we were finished and were watching other dogs, he stopped caring about the cap gun altogether. I think he would've been less stressed had we been able to go nearer to last. oh well. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference at all, but that was just my thoughts about it.
Here's the video: