Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Team Obedience - The Highlights.....

Put 4 dogs, 4 handlers, 2 judges and a rather rowdy audience outside the ring gates and anything CAN and WILL happen! When the dog(s) you are handling are not YOURS, then the odds have just doubled that there will be “Trouble A-brewin’”!

There was a respectable entry of 5 Obedience Teams at the ICDOC Obedience Trial held at the Amana Colonies Convention Center on Saturday 4/10. The Team’s in ‘working’ order were as follows: Senior Moment - (Made up of two 10 year old dogs and two 12 year old dogs), the handlers are still quite YOUNG! The Red Hat Society – Here’s where your old handlers showed up with walkers and canes. Luckily for the dogs, they discarded those devices during the heeling patterns! The DUMBELLES – a diverse group of dogs and handlers that were anything but DUMB! The Flower Power Team – was a colorful affair, with 1960’s bright colors and flower bouquets around the dog’s necks. The only one that seemed to enjoy the flowers was the boy dog. Hum, what does that tell you? Finally, Nauti-Poms – This Team was made up of Two Portuguese Water Dogs and Two Pomeranians. The four dogs were owned by 2 of the handlers, thus, there were 2 “fill in” handlers.

Senior Moment was the first team in the ring. This was rather distracting as the judges were trying to explain the pattern and there was a lot of exciting things happening around the rings. Not to mention we had a handful of bagged cookies (made by Meme) to toss to the awaiting crowd!! The bags listed each of the dog’s names and ages, in their coordinating colors (Bandannas and Handlers shirts). Kruz – 12, Robin – 12, Jamie – 10, Simon – 10.

The treat baggies sounded like a good idea at the time, however, it was terribly distracting for the two ‘non-obedience’ dogs! Kruz was very excited by all the loud voices and cheering from the crowd, he wanted to know ‘What was HAPPENING!”. He didn’t realize he actually needed to “Focus ESTER!” Luckily both Kruz and Robin had leashes attached, so they could only get about 3’ away from us. Generally forged! Jamie and Simon however, we seasoned professionals! Our figure 8 wasn’t too bad and the stand for exam was BRILLIANT!

Then the leashes came off. It became pretty obvious that Kruz and Robin were going to need some verbal support through this off leash heeling exercise. They were both pretty distracted by the crowd, now doing ‘cat calls’! At a DOG TRIAL! We barely made the slow, Jamie and Martha were ahead of us and I think Martha had a brace for awhile. Kruz did a blind cross (finally an agility maneuver that made sense!) and was back with me just in time for a right turn and a fast! That would have been fine, except he got so excited that he was now heeling with Meme and Robin! Actually, he was ‘between Meme and Robin’! I finally got him back and we thankfully finished the off leash heeling with a small amount of dignity.

The drop on recall wasn’t too bad. Robin just didn’t feel a need to ‘come’ when called. He was the smart one! Why bother coming when he’s just going to have to stop half way there and lay down? He decided he’d just watch those herding dogs do it and then catch Meme on the way out! SMART DOG!

The other three teams went and to be honest I didn’t have much time to watch them. I was bonding with my orange dog! From what I saw of them, they looked pretty darn good and it wasn’t looking good for Senior Moment!!!

Meanwhile, down on my knees, literally, playing with Magic. He is so darn cute, how could you NOT like him!! He seemed to like me, or at least he like the treats I had in my hand! Earlier in the day he’d won his Rally class! He was on a roll! I might mention here that I didn’t handle him in that class. He was handled by his ‘second hand owner’, Paula. Does that make her a Rescue Owner?

Finally, time for the Nauti-Poms Team and our Team Managers, Rilda FISH and Meg SAILOR introduce us! Our line up was as follows; Tracy – Sydney (PWD), Paula – Petra (Pom), Michele “stand in handler” – Rouge (PWD) and Myself – Magic (Pom).

Magic was very distracted and I think he was confused by the name introduction. We were indeed announced as the Nauti-Poms, and when he didn’t see any water, I think he thought he was suppose to be Naughty!! (He really was a good little trooper)

Our heel on leash was ‘okay’. Some forging and stretching of the string, I’m sure glad I had it ON HIM!! Magic has ‘one speed’, very steady and not too fast. On Saturday, it was all about brisk! I think he thought he was in the conformation ring! His little legs were just a trucking along. I knew I was in trouble when he was out moving Rouge in the slow, gulp.

Figure 8, not too bad!! I actually managed to stay with the rest of the team! Good job Magic!! We did a nice job with the stand for exam, as soon as I got that tiny little clip off that tiny little (black skull/cross bones collar). He did sit on the way back to him, but I think he was getting a little bored with the whole thing. The off leash heeling could have been worse! I think was at least within a mat of me or so! Thank goodness that is over!

The drop on recall exercise is usually the ‘make or break’ exercise for Team. You’ll end up with a few no ‘comes’, some ‘no drops’ and a few ‘no finished’. Our team did pretty darn well. Everyone came when called and 3 of them dropped. It was that darn orange dog that headed for me about three quarters of the way and then veered left to his owner Paula. I gave him a down command anyway and he promptly sat. By this time everyone was laughing, he was too darn cute. So, what could the judge do but give the finish command? Magic finished, right with Petra! Thus, Paula now had TWO Poms and I was dogless. I don’t think it’s suppose to happen that way in Team?

Rilda took Kruz in for sits and down, the only problem she had was getting him to down. Luckily, Martha was right next down to offer assistance. Rilda told Kruz to ‘down’ several times, finally, Martha took pity on her and she took it upon herself to tell Kruz, “Lie Down”. Funny, I guess I never thought about telling Rilda how to ask him to lie down. Magic was a PRO! We got perfect marks in our stays! Insert cheering here!

The stays were a little like a Chinese Fire Drill. Team stays are just your normal 1 minute sit, and 3 minute down with the handler in the ring. There were a lot of points lost in this exercise, this turned out to be the ‘place’ breaker for some.

The Team Placements were as follows:

1st - Red Hat Society

2nd – Senior Moment

3rd – The Dumbelles

4th – Nauti – Poms

5th – Flower Power

The really nice thing about this class is EVERYONE (Dogs, Handlers, Judges and Spectators) seemed to have a great time! There were loads of laughs by all!