Today was kind of a whirlwind. It was not our best trial, but there were some moments of brilliance.
When we arrived, we went in to find (thankfully) a quiet hall with the table and measuring wicket. There was no one around to measure him, but I had him hop up on the table and played around with the device to get him used to it. I’d say he was about 90% relaxed, which I was quite pleased with. Then the judge came over but she said Jonah wasn’t on her measure list. Apparently CPE recognized his last measurement as his last, so we’re done with CPE measurement! We should get our permanent height card in the next few weeks, which will be quite a relief.
Round 1, Jumpers Level 3: The course was fairly friendly. It was definitely the hardest jumpers course we’ve done (which you’d expect since it was our first level 3/4/5/C course), but other than a non-flowing tunnel entry (he landed off a jump facing one entry and had to take the other), it was a lot of turns but pretty smooth. We ended up doing 4 front crosses and a rear cross, compared to two front crosses in our last jumpers run at level 2.
The parking lot was really icy, so I thought I’d skip our usual jog before we ran, and then when I went in the building to go to the warm-up jump it turned out he was only a few dogs away. They were moving a lot faster than I thought. So, I skipped the warm-up jump, too, and we went right in the ring. Jonah flew off the start line and cruised through the first half of the course. I cut his momentum a little at the hard tunnel entry to prevent an off course, but then he went in the tunnel and jumped the next two…and then he stopped. It was like going from warp speed to nothing in a second. He’s never shut down like this on course before. Suddenly he was not highly focused on me like he usually is, and he just decided he had to find his dad. Dave was good about not making eye contact with him, and after maybe five seconds of me clapping and calling him to come, he shifted right back into hyper speed and finished the course. We got the Q, and even with the mental lapse it was a 1st place.
I was pretty flustered then, but looking back it’s kind of funny. He’d get an A+ for the course other than that one spot, where he gets a D. I guess I’m going to chock it up somewhat to a fluke, but also I know that I need to be more focused about having a real warm-up routine where I get him obediently paying attention to me before we go in the ring. More on that to come.
Round 2, Snooker Level 2: This was by far our greatest run of the day, and the best snooker run we’ve ever had if not the best run we’ve ever had. My goal had been to plan a flowing course, even if the points weren’t super high. The course had a nice distribution of reds, and I planned a nice course of 2-5-7. Again, I know it’s not especially high points, but it flowed nicely. Jonah was great start to finish. I did lead out and he broke the stay when I turned around and before I said, “OK,” but that was really the only slight problem with the round. It flowed, he was fast, and we got through the opening and then all the way through 7 without any trouble at all. I couldn’t be happier. Another dog in our class had planned a higher point-total opening, so Jonah was a Q and 2nd. The dog who won was about 10 seconds slower than Jonah, so I definitely had time to do a tougher opening, but I wouldn’t change a thing if I were doing it over. He got the flowing course he deserved.
Round 3, Fullhouse Level 3: This round was not my finest moment. Actually, it was one of my worst. Somehow I really mistimed things again. There’s not a lot of room to watch at Riverside, so I can’t just stay in there and read while I wait until it’s time to go. Anyway, I thought I had plenty of time but when I came in to check they were already running 20” dogs. Actually, the dog in the ring was the dog after Jonah! The gate steward was very generous and said I could go grab him and run as the last 20” dog. I literally ran to the car, got Jonah and brought him in, where there were 3 dogs left to go. Needless to say, we didn’t get to warm-up for this round, either. Also, in the short amount of time we were waiting a German Shepherd started barking and growling at him, and he responded in turn. I had to go past that dog to go into the ring, but once we got around the corner Jonah seemed to have forgotten about it. I was shaking. Great preparation for a run, huh?
Once again, Jonah started out really fast. We did some jumps, the tire, a tunnel, and then headed for the A-frame. I wanted to do the A-frame and then a turn towards me to a tunnel under the frame because it was a similar question to what we would have in Jackpot in our next run. I was pretty focused on that, and Jonah did great. Then I guess my handling got less clear. I gave him a bad weave entry and he missed it and went to a nearby jump instead. I stood stunned for a second, and then just started improvising. I did another handful of jumps, including a ‘joker’ double jump twice, and then my brain was just fried. The buzzer hadn’t gone off but I just sent him to the table so we could be done. I felt like I had let him down so much by being so ragged and disorganized, so I wanted to end on a good note.
We ended up with a Q and 1st, but it was not a round I was happy with.
We ended up with a Q and 1st, but it was not a round I was happy with.
Round 4, Jackpot Level 2: This time I was very deliberate about warming up properly. For the fourth time, he was great off the start line, and he was great for a good while. He confidently found a tough rear-cross tunnel entry, cruised through his weaves, did a jump combination and a bunch of other jumps. Then we tried to do the combination again. It was two jumps with a 180 degree turn between them. Coming out of the weaves before the combination, he slowed down a lot. He jumped the first jump and then just stopped again. He wasn’t looking for his dad this time, he just looked unhappy for a minute for no apparent reason. Maybe he heard or saw something that I didn’t pick up on. Anyway, the buzzer sounded before we jumped the second jump so we didn’t get those five points. Once the buzzer sounded, we took off for the gamble and Jonah instantly picked back up. He cruised through the tunnel, up the A-frame, turned towards me and did the rear cross in the tunnel, and drove out to the table. It (the gamble) was picture perfect. Q and 2nd.
-I need to warm up properly.
-Jonah’s interaction with other dogs is getting bad at times. This is really stressful. I know the trial situation is stressful for him and there are lots of dogs in a very small area, but I wish he could relax. Usually I can bribe his attention to stay with me, but I wish it weren’t so much effort. He used to be great with other dogs. I’m thinking we should take him to Willards Woods and keep him on leash more, since his off-leash social skills are great. Also, hopefully outdoor trials will be a little easier for him since there should be more space.
-The running A-frame is super. He’s sped up a lot and isn’t coming close to blowing the contact.
-Jonah’s weaves are great when I give him a good entry, but I shouldn’t take tough angles for granted. As the snow melts we’ll work on entries.
-Jonah’s energy was superb at the beginning of every round today (at least the first 6 obstacles were pretty much full speed). Now I just need to figure out how to maintain it.
-We’re 20/20 on Qs. I heard a lot of people today making some comment about the ‘elusive Q,’ or being so surprised/ecstatic when their dog would qualify. I want to appreciate the fact that, although we’ve only had a couple runs I’ve been happy with from start to finish, we’re getting the job done and making progress.