Well, after a week of losing sleep due to stressing out about the test, I lost sleep last night but not because I was thinking about the test. My dinner didn’t agree with me :(.
So I woke up bright and early ready to go. I was meeting Liz at a nature trail not far from the test site to run the dogs. She arrive almost 45 minutes before me so they were just about done by the time we arrived. We walked around, chatted a little bit, let the dogs get some energy out and as we were heading out, Roxie found a nice steaming pile of cow poop and rolled in it. Lovely. I just cleaned the truck. I tried to get her to roll in some clean grass but all she did was rub up against me. This was not going to be fun. I found a t-shirt in the truck and tried to get as much off as I could but it was all up in her collars and just everywhere. I drove with the windows down but she still stunk up the truck. We both stunk all day. Ick.
We arrived at the test site a way too early and had to wait what seemed like two hours before our turn. This was OK, because it gave time for Roxie to calm down and get over the excitement of the other dogs. We did a few stand commands to help her remember that this isn’t playtime. The rules still apply.
Time to go! We headed into the field and had a 15 minute walk before we got into the bird field where the scoring begins. Any birds encountered in back field (before scoring begins) only give the dog an opportunity to fail should the bird flush and the dog chase so we tried to keep from finding any birds before scoring begins. Once we reached the bird field, Roxie immediately found a bird and pointed it. She held steady, although her point wasn’t as pretty as it could have been. She kept looking at me instead of focusing on the bird. I walked up and she didn’t move, I passed in front of her to get on the other side to flush the bird away from the people and she didn’t move. I flushed the bird, it flew and she didn’t move. The shooters shot, it fell, she didn’t move. I walked over to her and released her to fetch and she found the bird and brouht it almost all the way back to me. I had to take a couple little steps to get to it which cost me a couple of points I’m sure. You’re allowed to take one big step but my one big step isn’t the same as an average guy’s big step so hopefully they gave me some slack.
Next up was for her to honor the other dog. The other dog had already been disqualified so they told me to give Roxie some water and hold onto her while the other dog found a bird and pointed. That happened pretty quickly and I released Roxie to go find the other dog. She ran right up and wasn’t paying much attention to the other dog at all. She got close and then circled back to me and then she finally saw the other dog and stopped on her own. They allowed me to hold her collar once they saw that she had established the honor. She stayed put and didn’t even try to break. Even though she stopped on her own, the fact that she made a swing towards the other dog first and didn’t stop lost her a few points. However, all in all, she did exactly what she was trained to do and I am so proud of her!!!
After all of that, we still had 8 minutes of time left on the scoring clock in which I tried to keep her somewhat close so that she wouldn’t find a bird and blow all the good work she did. That was the longest 8 minutes of my life!!! I watered her often, kept her closeby and luckily, no addional birds were found.. whew!
Now, I know that I shouldn’t be wishing for no birds and I certainly shouldn’t be keeping her close to me but in this particular circumstance and at this stage of Roxie’s training, anything can happen and I didn’t want anything to BAD to happen.
Upon returning back to the start line, I gave a thumbs up to several people who inquired but I wasn’t sure until Cathy came and said if officially… SHE PASSED!!! WOO HOO!! I jumped up and down, screamed and hugged everyone in hugging distance. Someone actually asked if she had earned her final leg of Senior Hunter. Nope, I’m just super excited about the 1st leg!
Video: Below is video of the entire thing. The second part of the video is the honor. You see me release her and then you see her run to the left of the screen towards all the people and the other dog. You can see her head bopping along as she circles back towards me. At that point, you lose her in the grass but I walk up to her and then turn toward the judge and let him tell me that it’s ok to hold her collar (to ensure that she doesn’t break and ruin the other dog’s work). Once the other dog is finished with her retreive, I then release Roxie and we are “done”.
Now, to focus on tomorrow and hope that she has a repeat performance. Thanks to everyone for all your postive thoughts today. If you have a moment tomorrow, please send some more some time between 12 and 1:00.
Until tomorrow afternoon…
Renee & Roxie