Wednesday, November 2, 2011

APC Summer National Specialty

Last Thursday was Leo's and my big day - our first real obedience trial and an entire day spent with Pomeranians and their people. We headed out fairly early to the Red Lion Vancouver at the Quay for the American Pomeranian Club's Summer National Specialty hosted by the Columbia Pomeranian Club. Obedience was to start at 9 with rally to follow. When I got my confirmation a few days before I was a little disappointed at the low number of entries in obedience classes despite the high number of conformation entries. It would sure be nice to see a lot more crossover as we know it's difficult for clubs to justify offering obedience when it comes out a loss with such low participation. Out of 90+ dogs in attendance, the club received just four entries for obedience and five for rally. Regardless, we were entered and grateful to have the opportunity at such a cool venue to have our first go at it.

I had entered Leo into Beginner Novice obedience and Rally Advanced. The Novice A and B classes went first then it was our turn. Fortunately someone was really nice and videoed for me on during our Beginner Novice class. Interestingly enough, a fact I had forgotten, our judge was Jill Jones, the same lady who had taught our tracking class the Sunday prior.
The schedule of events for all three days...

The beginning of the class was a little rough. I had thought the carpeted surface would muffle sound and perhaps be somewhat ideal what with also having fewer distractions because obedience was all by itself early in the day. I hadn't taken into account the smells that are held in carpet and hadn't even thought of "scary" metal discs in the flooring. I also didn't know they would have plastic sheeting for the ring walkways for conformation classes that were not only slick but a bit distracting. Needless to say, I didn't have the attention I would have liked and still had some issues with walking toward the gating around the ring. Leo's reticence toward ring gating is becoming a little troublesome as it seems to only occur when we're working in a real class or a match, not during practice at 102. I will say though, he willingly went into the ring without acting like the gates would get him just entering. So that was a huge bonus.

Also, his halt sits had been virtually non-existent the night before when we stopped at 102 to practice for a bit so I was pleased to see they had returned last Thursday. All in all, especially now that I've watched the video, it was a nice run and I'm proud of my boy. I also know what areas we still have to work on - and fortunately those are the areas I already knew we needed to focus on.

Our score was 189.5; qualifying is 170 or more. I was so pleased - our first time out and we nailed it! Very proud moment with my little man. We got some really cool awards, too. A blue rosette for first place/qualifying, a Columbia Pomeranian Club canvas tote complete with their logo, and a set of four CPC coasters. That was a nice surprise and a fun part of being at such a specialty event.
Next up was Rally Advanced. We had tried this class once before and it was a disaster then. I can't say this was a lot better, sadly. Our heel was almost non-existent - certainly not what I'm training for. Leo was lagging almost the entire run and I was having to really move slow in order to try to hold some semblance of teamwork together. I will say, too, that Leo was mentally with me the whole way. He didn't shut down or get afraid. That meant the world based upon some historical experiences in the obedience ring. I was so pleased with that, I was willing to and determined to stick through anything to get through the run.
That said, I must have been very determined because something happened that several people came up to me afterward (conformation people) and commented that they would have fallen apart if what happened to me happened to them. We got to station three. It was probably the only station I truly had concern about because standing Leo is not a skill we have mastered yet. I got to the station, tried it, and as soon as I started to walk he slipped into a down. I stopped, stepped back, and repeated. This time the second I stepped out to walk around him he sat. I knew we could get a 10 point deduction for repeating and didn't believe we could repeat twice. So I started to move on and was just about to move into the 270 when the judge stopped us. She asked why I was moving on and why I didn't stand him physically. She explained it is the only time in rally you can touch your dog. I replied that I didn't realize that and her response was somewhat abrupt apparently. I wasn't immune to the comment but was more focused in continuing on. I agreed, and began to move on. She told me to stop and come back and perform the station. Doing so and physically standing Leo, we were successful and moved on.

I thought I was going to lose Leo to the jump again after station 7, but I kept him with me. We were lagging through a few stations but his heel through the cones for station 8 was decent. The most difficult part I found was from the serpentine to #9 and then back down to #10. The stations were actually offset where I felt like I had to walk in a diagonal line and wasn't sure if that was appropriate. Also, when walking the course before our run, the judge gave me a bit of a hard time about counting my steps out on station 10 to ensure I truly did step back a full three steps when the time came. Fortunately Leo did this station well, sitting a bit early on the three step, but getting up and stepping ahead for the final step as well. As I said, I thought it was the ugliest run ever and I was quite grateful it was not on video. That said, as I type this out I "kind of" wish it was so I could figure out how in the world what happened did. After our run we left the ring and I took Leo outside for a quick run to the truck to load an x-pen my friend had ordered that I picked up. When we came back in a few minutes later, the steward was calling me back to the ring. I had no idea why and it turned out as I reached the ring and was told to go get Leo, we actually qualified. Our ugly as sin, out of sync, lagging mess of a run - where Leo did not shut down on me! - was actually a qualifying leg. To say I was shocked puts it mildly. While our score was a lowly 74, it was far more than I expected. All I can figure is the improvements we made as the run progressed must have redeemed us. That and Jill perhaps wanted to see success and encourages people to continue pursuing obedience. We got another blue rosette, a tote, and more coasters. How cool is that?!

At this point, with obedience done, we had time to just watch the others, visit, get to know people, peruse the vendors, and get ready to watch conformation. We were in it for the long haul with tickets to the banquet planned for the evening.
Plus, we were bringing home a friend for a while, too. Leo's breeder was allowing us to take a gorgeous little girl I'd had my eyes on home for a trial/just for fun. Her name is Gemini's Th Blacker Th Berry Th Sweeter Th Juice "Juicy". Isn't she just a doll?
She's 9 months old and probably just about three pounds soaking wet. Tiny! But wow does this girl pack a punch. Adorable beyond words and just about as full of life and energy and spunk as any twelve dogs, she's been a complete joy. We got her later in the afternoon from Trish and spent some time with and her pup, Heidi. The two girls got along fabulously running around Nina's photography room like they owned the place.

Afterward we were on to watch conformation. Here are just a smattering of the hundreds of photos I took that afternoon:

I love the little paw up!

Stretching those muscles. To keep warm? Hardly. Just a boredom buster probably. But cute as a button!

Here's Dorothy, the person whose darling little Poms got me interested in the breed all those years ago when my mom worked for her dad's company.

Leo's just chillin' watching the show.
With the ring behind him....

The breathtaking view from the Red Lion... This is the I-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.

More Pom-pom calisthenics.

And here's Leo with all his ribbons of the day!
The banquet ran from 7 until 10; I was there until about 9:30. After dinner there was a live auction with a bunch of good stuff. Gift baskets loaded with dog toys and treats plus human goodies - wine was popular - blankets with the CPC logo, framed photos, and jewelry. The alcohol was flowing freely at the bar and all were having a good time. But I had to work the next day and still needed to pack for our agility weekend out of town. Plus, I wanted to get the pups home and introduce Juicy to my boys.

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