I’m a day late. Whoops.
Last week was the AKC Obedience/Rally/FastCat/Too Much Stuff Trial here in our hometown. It’s a huge AKC show that also happens to include a Malinois Specialty (that Mr. Floppinois cannot enter, obviously, but it’s fun to watch).
Brody and I have now been to a total of three AKC trials, with pretty mixed results.
The AKC trial environment is really unlike anything else. Dogs, people, close rings, etc…etc.. It’s basically complete chaos.
And while most dogs can clearly navigate this environment just fine, Brody absolutely cannot. It completely breaks his brain and he turns into a whirling dervish of excitement.
This makes getting him into the ring a real challenge.
In the past, I’ve always crated in my vehicle and just wrestled him from the parking lot to the ring when it was our turn to go. This worked out sort of okay, but there was definitely room for improvement.
So this past weekend, I tried something new and crated Brody in the Obedience building.
I actually think that this helped him quite a bit. He still wasn’t particularly well behaved when out, but he was better than he’s been in the past.
We were entered in Rally Excellent, Novice Obedience, and FastCat.
Day One was the most disappointing for me.
Brody was AMAZING in Rally. AMAZING. Focused, prancy, enthusiastic – on our way out of the ring, I was stopped by no less than five people telling me how gorgeous our run had been.
So it was a bit of a shock when I came back to check my score and found an NQ.
We’ve never NQ’d in Rally before.
I asked the judge after the class if she could tell me where we’d gone wrong, since nobody watching was able to give me any clue.
She rather snarkily told me to “Check the rulebook” and wouldn’t provide any further specifics.
After that came Obedience, which has always been a real challenge for us. If you have some misconception that AKC Obedience is in any way simple or easy, I really encourage you to try it out. Shit is HARD!
Brody was pretty good actually. For Brody, that is. He was bouncy in the heeling, but stayed with me. He wiggled substantially when the judge reached for his head in the stand for exam. He wiggled again during the sit-stay. But, generally, pretty good.
I had no expectations of a Qualifying score, but I was happy with Brody none-the-less.
That afternoon was our first FastCat run ever and y’all – shit. was. stressful.
I signed up for it just as a “for fun” activity for Brody.
It was not particularly fun.
There were several dozen dogs just hanging out at the start line. And by “hanging out” I mean barking their heads off and dragging their owners around by the mandatory (and useless) flat collars.
You need two people to run a FastCat – one to release and one to catch – which makes for a whole new level of “fun”.
My husband came to help me out, but he isn’t really a “dog” person, and he really struggles to manage Brody.
He was a good sport about it, though, and gamely held on to our crazy dog while I jogged down to the finish line to catch.
Brody had fun chasing the lure, I think, but for all of the stress of getting to the line, the 7-something-seconds of running didn’t seem particularly worth it.
Even though we were entered for three more runs throughout the weekend, I opted not to run Brody again. Maybe we’ll try again next year, when we have fewer other things going on. It was just too much this time around.
The next two days in Rally, Brody didn’t perform up to his capabilities, but managed qualifying scores anyway. That puts us 2/3 of the way to our Rally Excellent title. I was hoping for some nicer runs, but I’ll have to take what I can get.
We didn’t manage any qualifying legs of our CD (Novice Obedience), but we did get some good ring experience out of it, so I’m optimistic for next time.
I had really hoped that this would be our last AKC Trial, as I really don’t enjoy them all that much. Alas, it looks like we will be returning, because we still have unmet goals to work on.
The next trial is in August. *Sigh*.
For now, though, we can shift our focus back to IPO. T-minus 10-ish weeks left until trial season!