Tuesday the 15th marked Risa’s 8th Gotcha Day. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been together so long. She has plenty of toys and other things so I decided we’d take a day trip together to celebrate it. She’d done pretty well at the obedience trial in June and there was another in July that was an easy day’s drive so I signed us up. It also happens to be close to one of our favorite non-local parks. I knew it was going to be a great weekend of fun. Some time to de-stress and just enjoy each others’ company. What I hadn’t counted on was me having an emergency appendectomy 10 days before the trial!
Needless to say, the stress level in my household has been pretty high over the last two weeks. First I added foster dog Augie (who was adopted on Risa’s Gotcha Day by one of my coworkers) and then two straight evenings of fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend. The Tuesday after that we were hit with some pretty major storms and my appendix decided it’s warranty was up and failed. I spent most of Tuesday evening and Wednesday in the hospital, came home that afternoon, had to send Augie off to another foster home, and spent the next 5 days recuperating. Risa didn’t get walks for days and, once I finally felt good enough to take her out, I couldn’t go fast or far. Training went by the wayside. Life got turned upside down!
I thought about canceling our weekend but figured I’d feel well enough to go. I was right. Of course, I felt much less prepared than usual but decided it was just about having fun anyway. We had nothing to lose.
Risa was a bit overwhelmed by the new location but, overall, handled it well. It was a small trial which helped. She wasn’t scared or super stressed out, thankfully. I was a little unnerved, however, as we were due in two rings right about the same time again. Fortunately, I had enough time between our two outings to successfully handle Risa. But it was tight and nerve-wracking trying to figure out how to potentially be in two places at once!
We did our Pre-Novice run first. Risa rocked her sit stay, the recall, and her stand for exam. Everything else was pretty ugly. Her heeling was atrocious and very unfocused. She lagged terribly and sniffed the “posts” on her figure 8. I lost her completely on the off-lead heeling. If we’re going to have a breakdown in performance due to stress, that’s where it’ll happen. Not surprisingly, we didn’t qualify. I wasn’t upset about it. I had a feeling that we would NQ there. I just haven’t prepared her well-enough for off-lead heeling in a new, stressing environment.
I figured we had a better chance in Beginner Novice. Though there was one thing I was concerned about: the judge was male. Risa is still really leery of men and I haven’t been able to find enough (practically none) men to work with her on it. I thought, because it’s a sit versus a stand, she might have a chance of pulling it off. I was prepared for her to break her sit and leave when he attempted to touch her head even if I was hoping she wouldn’t. When the judge attempted to pat her, she did duck her head out of his reach. She never moved a toe and, eventually, did let him touch her. I probably wouldn’t have passed her but she didn’t NQ there!
The heeling on-lead section was ugly. She wasn’t with me at all. Her figure 8 was actually quite nice, though. Even if her halt sits were way out of position. She rocked the stay, of course. I can always rely on her to do that. Her recall is always fabulous as well but, this time, there was an added element of difficulty. Firstly, I got confused on where I was supposed to go. Whoops! After I got to the right location, I had Risa sit and walked off to do the recall. As I called her to me, the dog in the next ring left his handler and stuck his head over the ring gates to check out Risa. He was probably 6 feet away from the exact spot I was calling her to. Bless her heart, Risa never even flicked an ear in his direction. I know she saw him there. Everyone saw him there! But she ignored him completely and came and sat directly in front of me with 100% eye contact. The entire event must have flustered the judge. He moved to block the other dog but hadn’t told me “Exercise finished.” I stood there smiling at my Awesome Girlie thinking “For the love of God PLEASE say ‘Exercise finished’ so I can release my dog before she does something about that other dog.” It seemed like I was staring into my dogs happy, smiling face forever but he finally ended my suffering and I was able to praise the living crap out of my dog. I was so incredibly proud of her. The judge asked me if I saw the dog coming to which I replied “Yes” with a huge grin on my face. That recall was a major victory for Risa; the judge had no idea how huge it was. As a bonus, he told us we had qualified. Risa had just earned her Beginner Novice title.
We went back into the ring for awards and it turns out Risa took 1st place with a score of 190. She also earned a prize for being the high-scoring mixed breed dog. (She may have been the only mutt there but it’s not like we care.)
After the show, I took her to one of her favorite places for a nice long walk. She hasn’t had a real walk since before my surgery and we both needed to get back to our usual routine. Even better, this place has a river running through it that she can wade in. That’s not something she gets to do very often.
I ended our day with ice cream. I’m not sure when she last had a chance to indulge in the cool, creamy goodness of ice cream. She tends to have issues with dairy so I don’t often let her cheat. It was a special occasion, however, so who cares what I have to pick up tomorrow? Risa was incredibly happy to inhale her ice cream treat. In fact, she tried to help me finish mine!
Overall, it was a great day with my girl. I’m so proud of her. She really rocked it today.