Saturday, 18 October 2014

Our first show

Daisy and Cybi have been somewhat on hiatus from training while I've been recovering from surgery, but last Thursday was their first week back in obedience class, and then this weekend was their first show. I debated not going, as I didn't really know what to expect of their behaviour, but then decided that since it was a Companion Show and there were lots of novelty classes as well as obedience, it would be a good day to get them out and about in a busy show environment to see how they got on.

Cybi did both his obedience rounds as training rounds, since we were ineligible for the bottom class as I've won things in the past, and to do the middle class he had to do a retrieve of an article. Currently his retrieve involves going out to fetch something, bringing it halfway back, lying down and plain refusing to budge or, when training from the "hold" first (ie getting him to hold the article first before slowly getting him to pick it up and then bring it back) he will touch the article with his teeth, then let go like it's hot and just stand there looking miserable. Most normal dogs seem to try to do something when they're left in a vacuum, and Daisy figured out the "hold" because when she didn't get a treat for just mouthing the dumbell she experimentally took it out of my hand and then got her reward. But Cybi is a super focused little dog, and is perfectly fine with just waiting....and waiting....and waiting....for his next instruction. Which means somewhere along the line I have to find an interim step to teach between him closing his mouth quickly round the dumbell and then letting go and actually holding the thing.

It's going to be a slow process, but we're in no rush.

Daisy got to do the class with the retrieve (and heel free - I had no idea if she was actually going to even walk next to me, but she was actually very good!) as her lower class. I was very proud of her - she tried ever so hard, and managed to stay switched on for long enough to get through the whole round. It was also the first time she'd ever worked a round without clicker and treats, so I was delighted that she kept her focus (albeit with much more verbal encouragement and claps and noises to keep her attention than normal). And she pulled a beautiful retrieve and recall out of the bag from somewhere, which was great.

The judge commented on what a happy little dog she was, which made my day as well, possibly even more than the eventual outcome...

Yep, third, in her first ever obedience round. It might not be much to people who are working Test C week in, week out, but I'm chuffed to bits.

Her second round was another thing of beauty, but for all the wrong reasons. We ended up going very late in the day, and Daisy was tired and getting silly. Her heelwork was all over the place, apart from one bit that the judge said was lovely. What the judge couldn't see, as she was walking behind me to mark, was that Daisy was hanging onto my sleeve with her teeth. So her back end was perfectly in position, while her front end was pretty much off the ground and swinging on my jacket. I decided not to share that information though...
Unusually, the class had a "learner" sendaway and a "learner " scent, both of which were new to Daisy. The sendaway just involved going to a pot that contained treats, which was close enough to a game we play where I hide treats for her and she runs off to find them that she figured that out very easily. The trainee scent test was another matter. It was ten cloths, all pegged securely to a line so they couldn't be moved, and then one cloth which had the handler's scent on it, which was loose. The judge took this one cloth and placed it somewhere in the line of cloths, and then the dog was sent off to find the right one. It was very impressive how many dogs, having never done scent before, figured out what was expected of them.
Daisy watched the cloth be put in line by the judge, then rocketed off to the nearest cloth and tried to pick it up. But it was securely held in place so she couldn't. So she pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and kept pulling to try and get the first cloth in line, while the spectators, judge, steward, judges in the other ring, show sponsors and random passersby all fell about laughing at her efforts to pick up the damn cloth.

She gave up after a good five minutes of effort (during which time I neither encouraged her nor discouraged her, just left her to figure it out while trying not to laugh too hard at her) and the second she stopped pulling the nearest cloth she obviously scented the correct cloth, trotted over to it, picked it up and brought it back like it wasn't a big deal. So that was a successful end to a fairly entertaining exercise.

I also entered Cybi in the "Most outstanding ears" class and Daisy in the "waggiest tail". Sadly they both spectacularly failed to get placed, but I'll forgive them because they behaved beautifully and it was for charity. So a grand day out was had by all, and with my housemate having been placed in a breed class with her Aussie and winning the "best cross" and being placed in the "best trick" with her beautiful Aussie x collie we had plenty of rosettes to decorate the kitchen.

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