Imagine my frustration when I found out that my club's APDT Rally trial had filled.
Imagine my amazement when I found out just a few days ago that a couple of runs opened up and I was able to show.
Imagine my sheer JOY when Marge showed successfully in all three of her runs, boasting two first places and a second place, one perfect score, finishing one title and double qualifying for the first leg of her first championship title! That's a mouthful!
I had a blast today; Marge was a LOT of fun to play some Rally with. Unfortunately, I have no video because I went by myself and was paranoid that if I asked someone to record me, I'd jinx myself and we'd NQ. But, take my word for it: Marge was really phenomenal!
The trial stress stuff that she sometimes experiences was really kept to a minimum. In fact, I'd say she was more calm in the ring at this Rally trial than any of the others that I've gone to. She had a couple of spacey moments (her second run of the day probably felt the worst of the three - I did jokingly say "brains! brains!" out loud to her as we heeled between two signs, as a reminder for her to not lose her mind and have some fun), but over all, her eye contact was good, she was responsive to me, and she stayed that way for three runs!
Our recent expeditions in to formal obedience training definitely helped tighten some things up. Her finishes were much more accurate, and she seemed to be trying hard to find that perfect spot to sit. To me, that tells me that she was definitely thinking about what she was doing instead of, well, just plain old doing.
I did a couple of things differently than usual. For one, I brought new treats out for the last couple of runs of the day. I took a piece of mozzarella from the giant hero sandwich I picked up for the trial, which worked out really well in the last run. Marge's eyes nearly popped out of her head when she saw a ball of cheese heading for her mouth.
I also ran the course with her physically faster than usual. Faster times lead to higher placements in the B classes of APDT Rally, so I gave it a try and it seemed to improve Marge's focus and keep her motivated and on her toes. I have been told that I "babysit" her too much, in both obedience and agility - so I moved a little faster with a little more spark in my stride, and I think that she liked it.
Several people commented on how well Marge did and, more importantly, how happy she looked to be doing it.
One of the judges, who has never met Marge before, called her "dynamite." What a compliment!
The whole day was super pleasant and super unexpected. We're going to have another opportunity to trial in APDT at the end of this month, so stay tuned!