I wasn’t very good about updating in the lead up to our DVG Regional Championships. To be honest, after our failure in December, I was feeling superstitious. But. It’s over now so here are the deets…
We did some pretty heavy prep for this trial, thanks in large part to the Rose City WDA. This is a club that I train with not nearly as often as I’d like, and since I’m not actually a member there, I can’t thank them enough for the help they gave me in the lead up to this championship.
I had two big concerns going into this trial: tracking and protection.
Yeah, that’s 2/3 of the sport. Awesome, right?
If you’ll remember, we failed tracking in December and it is by far our weakest phase, mostly due to the really inconsistent foundation I put on Brody for tracking. We’ve been working hard to improve, but I’ve definitely developed a complex about tracking.
To make things worse, the tracking for this trial was due to be on dirt. Brody had never tracked on dirt. I had no access to dirt to practice on. That is, until the kind members of the Rose City WDA took the reins on my trial prep.
They had access to dirt tracking, which they very generously shared with me. The field was 2.5 hours from my house, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, right?
As for protection, I was worried about how Brody would react to trialing on a new field and a new helper. He can be a bit of an asshole when it comes to new helpers – something we’re working on, but something that could definitely bite us in the ass on trial day.
I did what I could there. I got him on new helpers and new fields in the weeks leading up to the trial. I knew he wouldn’t be perfect, but figured he was within passing, so onward we went!
The week before the trial, I made the 2.5 hour trip to train four times.
Again, I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that helped us get prepped. We would have been lost without the guidance we received from our little PNW family.
Trial Day – Obedience
The trial schedule had us doing stadium on Saturday and tracking on Sunday. I had mixed feelings about this, but in retrospect, I think I just have mixed feelings about tracking.
We were in the first pair to work for Obedience. We were paired with a team we had been prepping with. I had mixed feelings about that, too. On the one hand, I knew her dog was safe and proofed and posed absolutely no risk to my dog – kind of a big deal. On the other, I knew her routine was going to be cleaner and nicer than mine and didn’t want so obvious and direct a comparison for the judge.
And, indeed, her routine was freaking amazing and I had to go next.
Our routine was fine. It was fine.
We had some bouncing in the heeling. Brody chewed on the dumbbell – something he rarely does in training. He ticked the jump – something he never does in training. He left on the send-out before I could give a command (at least he went?!), and needed two commands to down.
It was fine.
Trial Day – Protection
Because we drew second to work in OB, we were also second to work in Protection. Once again, immediately following the strongest dog in the field who had a near perfect routine. I’m not jealous, you’re jealous.
Also once again, we did fine.
He was, as someone so aptly put it weeks ago, “molestier than shit” in his guarding. He really thinks putting his feet on the Helper should make them run so he can bite them. We’re working on it.
He up-stressed a bit right before the long bite and needed a second out command there.
He looked at me instead of the Helper in the side-transport.
Like I said – fine.
Trial Day – Tracking
The next day, we went tracking.
The field was the most beautiful dirt field I’ve ever seen and more perfect than any IGP handler has any right to hope for. It was fluffy, just moist enough to hold footprints, and completely uniform.
Kudos to whoever found it for us and the biggest thank you in the world to the farmer that prepared it for us and permitted us to use it. Seriously. It was amazing.
What was not amazing, however, was our tracking.
Given how challenged us IGP1 handlers were in even laying our tracks (straight lines are HARD, okay?!), we should all be thanking whatever deity above that everyone did as well as they did.
As for me, my dog was awesome and my line-handling skills were decidedly not.
I even managed to accidentally pull my dog off the track! More than once!
Thank goodness he hopped right back onto the track and kept going!
Our corners were lovely. Our articles were crooked, but prompt.
It was, overall, fine.
We passed our freaking IGP1!!!!
And ended up second. To my OB-partner that beat everyone by a well-deserved-mile, as we all knew she would the second her dog stepped onto the field. If you’re reading this – you’re awesome and your dog is awesome and I’m only a little bitter about coming in second by like 5 million points. 😉
But you guys.
Brody finally has his IGP1.
After all of the questions and all of the doubts. After wondering if he’d ever get over his gunfire issues. His Helper issues. His outing issues. His side-transport issues.
After going down the wrong path for too long, changing clubs, and reevaluating everything I thought I knew about my dog and the sport.
We got our IGP1, with a little room to spare.
I’ll never be able to adequately express how grateful I am to the people that helped us on this journey. In particular, my teammates at the South Valley WDC, who never gave up on Brody and me, no matter what new and puzzling issue we ran up against. They persevered, which allowed me to persevere, and for that I’m so thankful.
The trial itself was also a thing of beauty.
Gorgeous venues. Well organized. Hosted by a super friendly and generous club that gave everyone the access they needed to be as prepared as possible for trial day.
The competition was fierce and friendly. We all laughed together over dinner, everyone’s dogs performed well, and we all cheered each other on from the stands. Not everyone had the trial performance that I’m sure they had hoped for, but there was no hint of anything but joy for those that did well.
It was a seriously great trial with seriously great people.
There is something that’s been bothering me, though.
After the trial, I was having a conversation with someone that didn’t compete. They were going on and on about how they “should have entered” and saying some not-super-nice things about some of the performances we saw.
It seriously rubbed me the wrong way. I’m actually still salty about it, days later.
If you’re going to compete – fucking compete. If not, shut up.
Here’s the thing – it’s super easy to sit on the sidelines and say “woulda, shoulda, coulda” and talk shit about the better effort of others.
It’s super easy to make claims about your own performance if you never actually pony up and perform.
How about, instead of *talking* you actually try *doing*. See how much you have to say, then.
It was honestly a great week and a great trial.
And while I’m super proud of Brody and how far we’ve come, we still have a long way to go.
Lots of things to clean up. Lots of things to work on.
And, hopefully, our IGP2 and IGP3 to earn later this year.