Our First Day of Competition!!!

WOW!  What an incredible day!  I am just so overwhelmed with all that happened today, I will try to get it all down in some sensical order!

First off, Rious was an absolute rock star!!!  He handled everything like such a pro!  Nothing phased him at all.  I was really trying to just look at this as a series of experiences and any ribbons would be a bonus.  Well, we achieved that and more!

The first thing I wanted to have Rious experience was being crated in the crate room with all of the strange dogs in such close quarters.  He just went in and nearly fell asleep!  He watched things with interest but was just so relaxed in his crate.  Having had one dog who would bark because she wanted to join the fun and another with claustrophobia/separation anxiety and will tear a metal crate to shreds, I can not begin to describe how thrilling that on its’ own was!

The second goal was working on his attention amid so many dogs, smells, people with treats, close quarters, etc.  He had very little difficulty answering to my requests and all in all for a seven month old intact teenager Border Collie-ish dog, I have no complaints!

Next was heeling, straight “fronts” and making sure our communication remained fluid, despite my tendency towards ring nerves and getting too focused/tunnel visioned.  Our first run we had a few times of a mildly tight leash.  Nothing horrific, really.  There are four levels of “tight leash” penalties, 1 point, 3 point, five point and disqualification.  We got a 1 point on each.  In the second run I actually kept my leash longer and increased my rate of reinforcement for heeling, as in the puppy level you can treat freely, with the only exception being no luring with a treat.  In the second run we did not have a single tight leash penalty!!!  The first run we also had one slightly crooked sit, but again it was only in the 1 point category.  I can totally live with that at this point!

I really liked both of the courses, but the second one was my favorite.  I felt like it really played into Rious’ strong suits.  The faults we got on that course ended up being mine!  Lol!  I misread one sign – a 5 point deduction (so did the winner of the class!) and had two treats stick together and one hit the ground, which is a no no, as it can create an unfair distraction for later dogs in the ring.  I stopped to retrieve the food which probably highlighted the drop to the judge, but I could not in good conscience leave it there.  That was a 3 point deduction.  {Shoulder shrug}  I always say it is about the experience and the ribbons are the icing on the cake.  I have said it before and it applies here, Rious makes me practice what I preach and I am 100% okay with that!  🙂  We had one other 3 point deduction when Rious got confused on a 360 degree turn to the left and sat at heel.  That was a 3 point deduction, BUT we nailed the bonus and got 9/10 points so we made up for most of our deductions.  The kicker is that if I had not misread the sign and had not dropped the treat we would have won the class by 2 points!  Oh well!

So the final breakdown was that we got two third place ribbons, two awesome scores of 197 and 198 out of a total possible 210 points and some incredibly valuable experience.

I am so immensely pumped for tomorrow!  As a fun extra, if we get one qualifying score on either of our runs, and based on today I don’t see why we won’t unless I choke (!) we will even earn a title in our level!

I have to say that this was SUCH a welcoming venue and community.  Any question I had I simply turned to anyone near by and if they knew they explained or showed me, if they did not know they led me to someone who did.  One of the women in my class happened to be crating her dog next to us.  We swapped tips we knew as we walked the course.  I really enjoyed it all.  And the ultimate icing on the cake was how many people approached me to compliment Rious’ attention and his handsomeness!  🙂  The judges all asked his age and were all obviously surprised at how young he was, so that really made me feel great!

He was struggling to stay awake on the car ride home and is now passed out on his pillow beside me!  Rest up buddy, another big day tomorrow!!!

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