WAHOOOOO!! I never ever thought we’d get a title, but by golly my boy ROCKED! To see him be able to even perform during a trial is an amazing thing and to be able run fast, clean and happy?!?! Wowsers. To earn this title Miles had to Q (qualify) three times on a Level 1 Jumpers course under at least two different judges. Coming into this weekend we had one Q from an earlier trial over Labor Day also at PBH. He needed to run clean both days in order to get his title–yikes! Obviously there was no real pressure because we are in no rush, but there are no more USDAA trials until at least next February so I really was hoping for the best.
We only signed up for the Jumpers run on Saturday afternoon. I debated about entering him in another run before that to give him an opportunity to have a fun no pressure run prior to Jumpers, but decided to just give it a go. It was a lovely day in the high 60’s and overcast, no wind or precipitation. The judge was 17yr old Blake Stafford from Lousiana who had made a really nice course. I walked the course with purpose and planned out everything hoping for a fast run. Of course I also walked it a second way in case he was not moving out too fast.
The Performance class was running first “small to tall” so I watched a few dogs go before I went to get Miles out of the car. Folks were running it a variety of ways with mixed success. As I hustled back to my car I tried to visualize the course and where I needed to be at all times to help maximize his speed and confidence. When I got to my car I was met by a very happy boy who couldn’t wait to get out to play. I grabbed him, his special ball, and the rest of his breakfast (raw beef) and headed back to the field. We did attention heeling to the top field and then did a bunch of tricks and worked on “speak” to chase the ball (our new and motivating game). As they changed the jump height to 22″ I decided to make my way through the gauntlet of barking dogs, EZ up tents, and crates to the gate area. Again we did various tricks for raw beef and “speak” for the ball. He was happy to play and only the slightest bit stressy. Miles was up! We walked into the ring together and happy. I left him on a stand-stay and led out just past the first jump in order to get him into the tunnel and me into position. I tried a game that my instructor, Melanie, has used for her shy dog Regan…I told Miles as I left him at the start “Wait. You wait. Waaaaaaaaaaaait. Waaaaait. OK!” (even though he would never break a stay). He seemed to get more interested with each “wait” that I muttered–yay 🙂 The rest is history as we ran our fastest and best run to date! He came in 1st and 12 seconds under course time. The pressure was on for tomorrow….
Sunday morning I woke up to think “oh geez, what should I do?!”. I was nervous because I had signed us up for P1 Standard and P1 Snooker along with the Jumpers course that we needed. I knew that there was no chance to Q in Standard as Miles still doesn’t teeter in public. I wanted to sign up to do it to give him more exposure to doing contact obstacles and such in a trial environment. At our last trial over Labor Day Miles did GREAT in Standard as we ran by the teeter and he only refused the chute as it looked completely different from any chute he had ever been in. He recovered from that refusal to continue over the dogwalk to a double to a rear cross weavepoles and finished strong. Of course that was in the big ring, the one we train in, the one he’s most comfortable in. This run today was going to be in the small ring. I debated for a long time and then just decided I’d head out to PBH and see what the course was like and decide at that point. I got there just as they were about to walk for P! Standard–whoa good timing. The course seemed doable, so I decided to keep him in it. Today Champoinship went before Performance and it was “tall to small”. For some reason I totally timed it wrong and got Miles out way too soon. I tried to keep him “up”, but he was very stressy to be hanging out for so long. Not to mention it was very windy so the flapping of the EZ ups and the signs around the field were getting him nervous. It also had come to my attention that the really scary teeter was being used in the small ring this time which was unusual. Miles reacts to the noise of it which I’m trying to countercondition by giving him food immediately after the sound. However, it was the combination of that plus the flapping and him being out too long that was not boding well for us. As we got up to the gate, they called us to go in and in we went to be met by a loose dog (the previous dog running the course) who they couldn’t control and we were sent back out. I should have known that we were doomed by this point, but I tried to get Miles back and focused on me which he did somewhat. I have to admit I was just a bit flustered by the goings on in the ring too. By the time we got to the start line I had to reset him 3 times (not a good sign). I did a small lead out to set him up for a nice entry into the poles. “Wait, waiiiit, you wait, OK!” and off he goes over the first jump and enters at the 2nd pole (crap now what) so I pull him out to try again (mistake). He enters correctly but then refused the chute. At that point I just ran him out over some jumps to make it fun and left the ring. Dang it! Now I’m really nervous about Jumpers.
We had a really long wait before our next two runs so I had time to reflect back and come up with a strategy. I took Miss Rue out to play and to socialize. She did awesome as usual. Extrememly focused for such a little sprout. She had fun working for food and tugging. We also discovered her new favorite treat….roast beef! Cool. After a brief period with her, I brought her back to her crate in my car and took Miles back out. We played fetch in the parking area for awhile then walked down closer to the ring and played there briefly, then he went back. Good job buddy! I decided that I was just going to forget about what happenend this morning and make like it never happened. I was going to do the same routines as before and just see what happens.
Next up was Snooker. It appeared to be a doable course as well….no teeter, no weaves, just jumps, tunnels and the a-frame. I planned out a course to be as motivating as possible and headed out to get my boy. In the past Miles has been a bit leery of the Snooker flags that they put up and with today being windy, I was less than encouraged. Again we played the same games before heading in. He seemed more relaxed this time and off we went. He did great and if it weren’t for the off course to a red just as we were about to start the sequence we probably could have Q’d. Oh well, he was happy so that’s all that mattered.
Jumpers was up next and by now Doug and the girls had gotten there–yay! Miles is much happier when they’re around. I guess he feels more protected or something. Since this was a small trial and his was the very last course of the day, folks were starting to pack up their stuff (uh oh, EZ ups coming down, crates being folded, much chaos ensuing indeed). I tried not to think about that and went out to help build the course and then walk it. It seemed pretty good. Lots of space to open up and run fast, so I was excited to try out some of my new skills (run like heck out of a tunnel, dump and run after a jump kind of things). Same warm up and start line routines and off we go! Beautiful amazing wonderful super job! He started out a bit slow and just before going into the second tunnel I guess someone moved a crate and made a noise. Miles hesitated for a split second and then decided what we were doing was more fun and absolutely flew after that point. We came in 1st again by 5 seconds and under course time by 15 seconds! My boy has a TITLE!!!!