2011 Front & Finish Rally Ratings

I’ve waited a long time for this to be officially published. Of course I had my notes and had been tallying ranking points all along, but it’s nice to finally see it announced officially:

In the 2011 Front & Finish Rally Combined ratings Quigley was #1 Parson Russell Terrier again (out of 27 dogs total earning ranking points), for the second year. There was a nice surprise though, with 93 points total he also ranked #4 overall in the Top 10 for the Terrier Group (27 breeds total earning ranking points).

Today it has been 277 days since Quigley left us, and 293 days since the last rally trial we ran together. I’m very proud of his accomplishments, including all 4 rally venues we showed in, not just his AKC ranking. He will be forever sorely missed.

Front & Finish 2011 Rally Rankings

2011 Accomplishments

2011 AKC Event & Title Statistics

In memory of my dear Quigley and his accomplishments in 2011:
http://images.akc.org/pdf/events/2011AnnualStatistics.pdf

Obedience:

  • 332 dogs earned the AKC Graduate Novice (GN) title. Of those, 20 from the Terrier group. Quigley was the only Parson Russell to earn it, and only the second ever of his breed.

Rally:

  • 17 dogs earned the AKC RAE4 title. Of those, 4 from the Terrier group, and Quigley was one of the two first PRTs to earn it.
  • 11 dogs earned the AKC RAE5 title. Of those, 3 from the Terrier group, and Quigley was one of the two first PRTs to earn it.

 

Hemangiosarcoma

On the morning of January 11th we got a call from the vet hospital where Quigley was treated. I didn’t know they had sent in the sample of the needle biopsy to the lab anyway, after we already had to make the difficult decision to let him go. At least I have some answers now.

Quigley being Quigley, of course nothing was typical. No tumor in his spleen or heart (in fact, all vets involved commented on how good everything looked on the xrays and ultrasound – except the lungs), no abdominal swelling, no obvious sign of bleeding disorder, no pale mucous membranes, no depression or lethargy, no loss of appetite. Just a small mass near his pancreas that metastasized to the lungs.

With all that I know now, hemangiosarcoma being aggressive cancer with a prognosis of only weeks or at best months to live even with treatment, I’m more at peace because knowing while it was progressing wouldn’t really have made a difference in my or Quigley’s life. He would have worried because I would have worried, and all the negative energy would have been bad for both of us. Instead, the two of us enjoyed the time we had left in December, trialing and hanging out in Durango.

Good bye, my good boy

This is so difficult for me, I don’t know where to begin. But I want to write everything down while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Quigley and I were hanging out at the Valley Hills Obedience Club’s trial on Saturday 12/10/11, the second day of our 3rd annual “Rally Marathon”. It was just after we had finished our Excellent run when I suddenly noticed that something was very wrong with his right eye. It looked like a marble, not milky but I couldn’t clearly see his pupil because there was an orange/red haze over it that blurred iris and pupil together. There was no discharge, no ruptured blood vessel in the white of his eye, no scratches. Just this freaky looking iris.

After awards for the Advanced run I packed up and we went straight to our regular vet, but the folks there weren’t very helpful, telling me I should come back after 2 pm and they would see me as a walk-in. I didn’t want to wait around, so I got the number of the eye specialist that’s in the same building as the dentist Quigley sees, and luckily they were open and they said I could bring him in immediately.

In a way I’m glad it turned out that way, since at Eye Care for Animals they obviously knew what they were doing – and the specialist vet doesn’t even know what exactly is going on. They took his eye pressure, placed some test strips, stained, looked into his eyes with about 5 different instruments. The verdict: there’s massive inflammation in his eye, and also some blood. He doesn’t have much (if any) useful vision in it at all right now. We don’t know what happened. The vet said if it was an injury, it would have come from strong, blunt trauma, like running into something hard, or falling on his head. I can’t recall anything like that happening. They drew blood and tested extensively, including for any signs of tick-borne disease and fungal infection. The vet started aggressive treatment of the inflammation with Metacam and Prednisolone eye drops. A recheck was scheduled for 12/20.

I looked into my dog’s eyes every day, and I did not see this the night before when I combed him out for ticks after our hike before we went to bed. Even  now I still question every time I recently saw him shake his head, rub his face with his paw, or not seeing something. When we were at the 12/11 trial, he did a lot better than the previous day, but when a friend stepped on his right side and waved her hand in front of his eye, he didn’t react at all. Other than that he behaved normally though, ate, drank, wanted to play, tug and work, and was his usual crazy, busy self.

When the vet called with lab results on Monday, 12/12 everything that came back was completely normal – to my great relief at the time. No borderline values, other than the typical higher BUN and Creatinine since Quigley is raw fed. Ehrlicia and RMSF negative. His eye looked the same, but he was still acting normal. Since there was no reason to stay home, we went to our last trial for the weekend, and he did better than on Saturday.

When I put in his eye drop in the morning on 12/16, Quigley’s eye looked a bit worse than the previous day, so I called the vet and asked if we could come in for our follow-up today after our trial instead of waiting until Tuesday. They squeezed us in because I was so concerned. They repeated some tests they had already done last Saturday, and since there was nothing new other than more blood, the vet (not the same as last time – I like both very much, but nice to have a second opinion) suggested checking Quigley’s blood pressure and an ultrasound of his eye. Hypertension can cause eye problems, and she wanted to see what was going on with his retina.

His blood pressure was between 179 and 182, and the ultrasound showed that a part of the retina was detached, probably caused by high blood pressure, but we didn’t know for sure. The detached retina caused bleeding, which is what was so visibly orange/red in his eye. Apparently some of the blood had dissipated earlier this week, but then there was another bleeding incident and it increased again.

Quigley was put on medication to lower his blood pressure and a re-check scheduled for the following Tuesday. We didn’t know at this point what caused the hypertension, and if it was just temporary or not, so my plan was to take Quigley to a cardiologist for a check up in early January to see if there’s any underlying issue. I was hoping this course of action would work and the detached portion of the retina reattach itself.

On 12/20 there was nothing new to report. His blood pressure was still high, but I didn’t know if that was just because he is so stressed every time I have to take him to a vet. The eye specialist is in the same building as the dentist, and he just had such bad experiences after 3 surgeries to  have teeth pulled.

The dosage for his blood pressure meds was doubled, and we were now trying prednisone instead of Metacam to treat the inflammation more aggressively until his recheck on January 6th. Despite being so scared and trembling the whole time, he was such a good boy with the poking and prodding and shining lights in his eyes, all the vet techs involved and both vets commented on it.

On Friday, 12/23, just before we set out on our trip to Durango, I took Quigley to his regular vet to have an urinalysis done. I wanted to know if maybe there was an underlying problem with his kidneys that caused the hypertension. The vet later left a message letting me know that except for a somewhat low specific gravity (indicating that he wasn’t concentrating his urine properly at this time) everything was normal. Due to that I changed from feeding his usual diet to brown rice and salmon for the time being, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Fishy foods and treats had always been his favorite.

We had a fun trip, including a stopover at a motel in Phoenix, where he was very happy to be allowed to sleep on the bed with us, something he wasn’t allowed to do at home. Our stay in Durango was wonderful, right up to the evening of Sunday, 01/01/12. We played, hung out by the fireplace, went for some walks, and spent a lot of time together. Other than the eye problem, everything seemed so normal.

Sunday afternoon Quigley had a little coughing fit, I just thought maybe he had a piece of treat stuck in his throat. It was just a few seconds, then he was back to normal. The same thing happened again in the early evening. Later on, when we went to bed, he started coughing again and it didn’t stop very quickly. I got him to come out from under the bed by asking him if he wanted a treat, and he came crawling out immediately. A few more coughs, and suddenly he brought up a glob of bright red blood.

That was when I started freaking out, because I thought he had swallowed something that had gotten stuck, so Patrick went to find out about emergency vets in Durango and I got dressed and ready so we could leave as soon as we knew where to go. Found the vet that was on call for the area and met her at the hospital about half an hour later. Quigley had stopped coughing by now, but I was still freaked out over what might be going on.

They did an exam, x-ray, and bloodwork. It was a long time before the vet came back to talk to us, and the assistant who was there told us that she had emailed the x-rays to a radiologist and was talking to him on the phone to find out more. Long story short, my poor little guy has massive lung disease and they suspected pneumonia and possibly cancer.

We packed up the car and drove home right away, with Quigley on antibiotics and bronchiodilators. Took him straight to Advanced Critical Care here when we arrived in the evening of 01/02 and he was hospitalized and put in an oxygen cage to help him breathe more easily. I felt so bad having to leave him at a vet’s yet again, after all he’s been through and hated it so much, but they said he might pass away in his sleep without oxygen therapy. He was also put on IV fluids due to being dehydrated. They took additional x-rays, and unfortunately his condition had declined already within the last 21 hours or so since we saw the vet in Colorado.

On 01/03 the vet called in the morning and said they did an ultrasound and found a mass near his pancreas, which might be a tumor, or just an enlarged lymph node. Everything else looked normal. They sedated Quigley and did a needle biopsy of the mass to hopefully learn more and get some answers as to what’s going on. The remarkable thing is that his bloodwork was still normal, with only a slightly (but still normal) elevated WBC, and slightly elevated ALT due to taking prednisone. The urinalysis was normal, including specific gravity. The ultrasound showed all other organs look normal.

At around 2.45 pm my friend Bari picked me up to go visit Quigley at the Hospital, and I was hoping to get some information on what was wrong with him, and hopefully some options for treatment. Talked to the eye specialist and also to the vet at the 24 hour care facility for a little bit, but did not get any new information. The eye doc said that it was time to “start looking for Zebras” since nothing made much sense.

When I finally got to see Quigley, he was still very disoriented from being sedated for the biopsy. He did not respond well to me, although when I first stuck my hand into the oxygen cage, he sat up and wagged his tail a little bit. The vet put us in a consultation room to spend some time together, but I made it very short as Quigley didn’t want to take any food or treats from me (a very, very bad sign – this has not happened very often throughout his life). I placed him on a fresh bed in his oxygen cage, petted his head, and left him to rest.

Bari and I went to have an early dinner, and then she dropped me off at home. At 5.41 pm the phone rang, the display showing the caller ID of the vet hospital. I didn’t know what to expect, but unfortunately it wasn’t good news. The Dr. said that since I left, Quigley’s condition had deteriorated, his heart rate was very high, and he had a harder time breathing even with oxygen therapy. She offered that they could put him on a ventilator to help him breathe, while doing more diagnostics, but there was no hope of his lungs recovering to the point where he could come home with me. I decided that it was time to say goodbye, as I did not want Quigley to suffer any more. I grabbed some treats and Patrick drove us over there.

Events at the hospital are a blur in my mind now. Just before we went inside, I told Patrick that I will not let my dog die in a place he hated so much. Many times in his life I promised Quigley that no matter what happened, I would always take care of him and never, ever leave him behind. If he had died at the hospital, I felt I would have let him down on that promise.

I asked that he be brought out so that I could take him to the car, one of the places where he has always been happiest in his life. A vet tech carried him out, and I put his collar and leash on, asking if he wanted to go home, go for a car ride. He became very determined and headed straight for the door immediately. Clearly, he wanted to leave that place. We went outside to the little potty area and he lifted his leg for a long pee, deposited a little pile, and then made a beeline for the car. It was amazing and saddening to see that he still had the strength to jump up into the front seat and then climb into his crate. It wasn’t an energetic jump like it used to be, but it was very determined.

I settled in the back seat with the crate turned sideways and offered him some chocolate and peanut butter cups, neither of which he wanted. He took a stick of dried tripe and held it for a few seconds, but dropped it when I offered some soft, fishy treats. As if to reassure me in the only way he could, he ate a few pieces and then settled into my arms. It seemed like all of Quigley’s strength suddenly left him, now that he was in a familiar, place with the people he loved. I told him many things, how much I love him, and that it is ok to let go, to sleep.  Patrick climbed in to sit beside me and we said our goodbyes, telling him what a good boy he is. He was laying there, his eyes half closed and limp, but his little heart was beating very fast and he had trouble breathing. I really didn’t want to let him go just yet, but I couldn’t bear seeing him like that any longer, feeling his heart race. But more importantly I didn’t want him to pick up on my sadness and pain any more than he already did, and I felt very close to falling apart.

So I nodded to the vet that it was time. She climbed into the front seat and injected the sedative into the catheter that had already been in place to give IV fluids. I was grateful that there was no need to inflict more pain by giving the injection directly. Just a few minutes later, when I felt certain he wouldn’t feel it anymore, she gently helped him to pass and I carried him back inside. I laid him down on a soft blanket, stroked his beautiful coat and kissed him for the last time.

Good bye Quigley, my good boy, my good doggie. I love you so very, very much and am grateful for the time we had together, for all the adventures we shared.

I’ll catch up with you a little ways down the road, and then we can walk together again.

Rally Marathon 2011

I’m sitting here recovering from our 3rd annual Rally Marathon, which has been an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. It’s difficult to put everything into words, but I do want to make the effort to write it all down so I can come back and read it later, and remember the days. Once again I’m so happy that I decided to collect all our trial notes in one place on this blog.

Friday, December 9th 2011

This year we started out by celebrating our 200th Rally run after the completion of the Excellent B class. We stepped into a Rally ring for the first time on June 24th 2006 at the APDT trial held by Goleta Valley Dog Club, and that day we did not qualify. What a difference those years in between made – Quigley won this class and went on to place 4th in Advanced B.

The Excellent class of the afternoon trial didn’t go so well, few dogs received high scores and there were lots of major deductions for many teams. We scored a 4th place with 79 points. Advanced was a little better, but we did not manage a placement.

Saturday, December 10th 2011

Saturday was not a good day. Due to everything that happened after our Excellent run I don’t remember much, but we didn’t do all that well and lost 10 points on top of that because Quigley didn’t hold his honor sit. While we were waiting for our Advanced run, I suddenly noticed that something was very wrong with Quigley’s right eye. It looked discolored red-orange and the pupil was obscured. Our second run went a little better than the first, but still not all that great, considering that the course wasn’t difficult. I had looked forward to visiting with friends after we were done, but I packed up and went straight to the vet’s. To my disappointment the staff wasn’t very helpful at all, telling me that if I wanted to wait as a walk-in, I should come back after 2 pm. It was just after 11.30 am and I didn’t want to wait that long, so I called the eye specialist at City of Angels to find out if they were open. They were and agreed to see Quigley right away.

In a way I’m glad it turned out that way, since not even the specialist vet knew what exactly was going on. Using our regular vet would only have things dragged out unnecessarily, like already happened once with his teeth, so I’m glad things turned out the way they did and went straight to the expert. The vet tech took his eye pressure, placed some test strips, the vet stained and looked into his eyes with about 5 different instruments. The verdict: there’s massive inflammation in his eye, and also some blood. He doesn’t have much (if any) useful vision in it at all right now. We don’t know what happened. The vet said if it was an injury, it would have come from strong, blunt trauma, like running into something hard, or falling on his head. I can’t recall anything like that happening.

Blood was also drawn for testing, including signs of tick-borne diseases. If there are any suspicions, Quigley would be put on Doxy, but meanwhile the vet started treating the inflammation aggressively with Metacam, and Prednisolone eye drops every 6 hours.

Sunday, December 11th 2011

Sunday morning I went to the trial with less worry in my heart, since Quigley’s eye seemed to look at least a little better and I felt in good hands after seeing the vet. Our runs went much better than the day before.

Around the middle of the week Quigley’s eye looked better, but when I put in his eye drops Friday morning it looked worse again, so as soon as the office opened, I called the vet and asked if we could come in for our follow-up today instead of waiting until Tuesday. They squeezed us in for the afternoon because I was so concerned.

Since the vet had assured me that Quigley did not need to be restricted in his activities and the $171 in entry fees for the 3-day weekend were non-refundable, I decided I would go and just have some fun with my dog no matter what instead of staying home and making him worry by stressing out.

Friday, December 16th 2011

And I’m glad we went, because we did have fun, decent scores, and Quigley even won another first place in Excellent. After Rally we checked out the vendors in the exhibit hall with the conformation rings, where he had even more fun mooching for treats!

Then it was off to the vet’s once again. They re-did some tests they had already done last Saturday, and since there was nothing new other than more blood, the vet (not the same as last time – I like both very much, but nice to have a second opinion!) suggested checking Quigley’s blood pressure and an ultrasound of his eye. Hypertension can cause eye problems, and she wanted to see what was going on with his retina.

His blood pressure was between 179 and 182, and the ultrasound showed that a part of the retina is detached, probably caused by high blood pressure, but we don’t know that for sure. The detached retina causes bleeding, which is what’s so visibly orange/red in his eye right now. Apparently some of the blood had dissipated earlier this week, but then there was another bleeding incident and it increased again.

So for now Quigley is on medication to lower his blood pressure and we’d go to re-check that on Tuesday. Depending on the outcome his dosage may be adjusted. Then we continue for about 2 weeks, while still also using the eye drops and Metacam.

We don’t know at this point what causes the hypertension, and if it’s just temporary or not, so I will probably take Quigley to a cardiologist for a check up in early January to see if there’s any underlying issue. The good news was that Quigley’s retina is not completely detached, which would require surgery quickly to preserve his vision.

Saturday, December 17th 2011

Saturday was the long-awaited day of finishing our RAE5, and I was sad that poor Quigley’s eye problem was a dark cloud hanging over what should have been a day of untroubled celebration. I was sad about how obviously the loss of vision in his right eye caused him to lag during heeling, and to bump my leg more frequently than usual. On the other hand it was good to see that he had no trouble at all with the jumps and enjoyed them like he always does. Placing third in the Excellent class was an unexpected treat and launched us back into the running for #1 Parson Russell Terrier in the Front & Finish Rally Combined ratings for 2011.

After the rally trial was over, we went to the photo stage in the conformation area for a professional photo with the judge. I had also brought along all the ribbons we earned for our last 10 RAE legs and the photographer had a really cute idea for posing Quigley and his awards. I can’t wait for them to arrive!

Sunday, December 18th 2011

Finally there was Sunday, our last day of competition in 2011. I could tell that Quigley was getting a bit tired, just like the previous two years of Rally Marathons. Nevertheless, he was in good spirits, entertaining his “fan club”. I went into the ring without any expectations or anxieties, since we had achieved all our goals for this year already. I hadn’t even looked at the score board after our run, so when we were called for 4th place in Excellent it came as a complete (but very welcome!) surprise. The placement added another 6 points to our previous total, and with a bit of luck it might actually send us into the top 10 for the Terrier group ranking. No way of knowing until all the results for the year have been processed though, which may well take until the end of January.

At this point our future in competition is uncertain. As long as Quigley is physically able to work and enjoys it, I will not stop training, and of course there are many more goals I would like to achieve together with him. Several fellow rally and obedience people have assured me over this past weekend that even if the worst case scenario comes to pass and he permanently loses vision in his damaged eye, his career is not over, but I worry whether there is another serious underlying health issue causing this high blood pressure, and of course whether his vision will return.

Hopefully my next update will be less dramatic and contain lots of good news.

Scoreboard:

12/09 T1 Exc. 91, 1st place / Adv. 86, 4th place
12/09 T2 Exc. 79, 4th place / Adv. 89
12/10 Exc. 75 / Adv. 86
12/11 Exc. 82 / Adv. 90
12/16 Exc. 92, 1st place / Adv. 91
12/17 Exc. 92, 3rd place / Adv. 93, completed RAE5 title
12/18 Exc. 91, 4th place / Adv. 90

Frosty paws and rally in the rain

The weather forecast for last weekend looked great for so long – sunshine and temperatures in the 70s. When I got up Saturday morning it was quite cold, but I had no idea how cold it would be over in City of Industry. The drive was nice, I got to see a beautiful sunrise that lit up the clouds, and the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains were covered in snow. Snow!!!

When we arrived at the trial site, I saw immediately that the grass in and around the show rings was covered in frost. I didn’t even bother to unpack anything and decided to just work out of the car, so that at least Quigley could stay warm while I was checking in and doing walkthroughs.

Our Excellent run (including a Honor down in the frosty grass) wasn’t so great, we had some sloppy heeling, two retries of exercises, and a deduction on the Honor exercise for the elbows coming a little bit off the ground for a moment over halfway through. In my opinion it wasn’t very nice of the judge to demand a down in this situation – my poor dog was shivering the whole time. We scored an 87.

Our Advanced run went better, we managed a 92 and 4th place. By the time Advanced A and B were finished, there was still frost on the grass.

As much as I am complaining about Saturday’s weather, Sunday was worse. Not quite as cold, but it was pouring rain. Again I didn’t bother to unpack anything from the car, and most of us were crowding around the stewards table under the canopy to stay at least somewhat dry. As bad as the weather was, only two people were marked absent though. The judge kept teasingly calling us “crazy people”, but he was there too, so what does that say about him? <G> (He’s a really nice man and I enjoy showing under him in rally.)

Since things didn’t go so well last time we had a trial in the rain (February this year), I wasn’t sure what to expect. During out potty walk and warm-up Quigley didn’t seem too concerned about the rain and wet grass and did all the sits and downs I asked for promptly.

The Excellent course didn’t look too difficult, but I was still a little worried about the many sits in the “Call Front – 1, 2, 3 steps back” and anything involving a down. At least the Honor exercise was a sit.

What can I say, my little dog never ceases to amaze me. No major issues on the course, he even held the Honor sit perfectly, squinting at the rain all the while. We finished with a 95 and won the class. (Video)

Advanced is another story. Let’s put it this way, my dog scored a 96, but I scored an 86. I did an exercise wrong, which cost us 10 points and first place. One exercise was a “Halt – Sit – Down” and then further along on the course a “Halt – Down – Sit”. I did a  “Halt – Down – Sit” and didn’t notice that was wrong until it was too late, so I couldn’t do a retry. (Video) What a shame, this could have been our first double win – Quigley would have deserved it for being such a trooper in the rain!

For the record: these were RAE legs #43 and 44!

ASCA Rally & Obedience – Hi Desert ASC

I know, I know – I said it after first completing the CD in UKC and then also in AKC that I’m never going to do Novice Obedience again. Apparently I really shouldn’t use the word “never” when it comes to dog events. <G>

Saturday (Obedience)

Last Saturday Quigley and I were entered in ASCA obedience for the first time. I decided that if we do want to continue working toward Open (and possibly even Utility) titles, I’d rather trial at $12-15 per entry in ASCA than $20-30 in AKC until we get more ring experience and have a really solid chance of qualifying. Unfortunately, to get to that point we first have to finish the Novice class…

Both runs went pretty well on the individual exercises. In trial 1 we could have done better if I had moved more briskly on the heeling – that really stood out when I watched the video later. We lost 7 points on the Heel On Leash & Figure 8, none on the Stand for Exam, 10 points on the Heel Free (sniffy/laggy, had to give a second command to heel on the heel free, plus Quigley missed one sit), and half a point on the recall. In trial 2 I picked up the pace and we only lost 4 points on the Heel On Leash & Figure 8, again none on the Stand for Exam, 5 points on the Heel Free, and another half point on the recall. Unfortunately, no video for this one.

I did not expect that we would NQ on the group exercise, and certainly not in both runs. Each time Quigley laid down from the sit as soon as I turned my back and walked away. We’ve been practicing Open out-of-sight sits of up to 8 minutes for super high-value rewards with good success, so that was definitely a surprise. It was hot though, and he does not tend to do well sitting in the heat.

I’m not entirely unhappy with the outcome overall though, as we would have scored 182.5 in trial 1 and 190.5 in trial 2 if Quigley had held his sits. His average of passing scores in all Novice obedience runs so far is 180, so there’s definitely improvement.

Sunday (Rally)

In the morning trial we started out with a run in Novice C, trying for our last RN-C leg that requires a minimum score of 190. We left the ring with a 196, deductions were for my dog bumping me and some awkwardness when I nearly ran into the sign on the moving sidestep right. This was our last ASCA Rally Novice run, as we completed all 3 level titles (RN, RN-X, RN-C).

In the afternoon we moved up to Advanced, in pursuit of X legs (scores of 195 or better), but it wasn’t to be. We ended up with a 189, which was still good enough for first place. Any exercises involving stationary stands has very slow responses recently, and there were two of them on the course, plus a slightly mangled call front – 1, 2, 3, steps back. I really need to polish up on these.

Obedience Club of San Diego County, Sunday, October 16th 2011

Quigley and I had another fantastic day yesterday, at the trial of the Obedience Club of San Diego County, held at Markim Pet Resort. It was a new venue for us, but we will certainly come back for future events, since everything was just about perfect – parking close to the rings, plenty of space to set up, and nicely groomed grounds with good grass.

The morning started with two rally runs, where we scored 95 in Excellent B (the deduction was for Quigley not holding his Honor Sit quite perfectly) and 100 in Advanced B, which was also second place out of 13 dogs and our first perfect run in AKC rally! This is our 42nd RAE leg.

The truly big news for this weekend is all about Obedience though!

We had to wait around from about 11 am to 1.30 pm for our Graduate Novice class to be judged. I was quite nervous, as we had tried 7 times (12/12/10, 1/28/11, 2/19/11, 2/25 & 2/26/11, 6/18 & 19/11) since December 11th last year to earn that 3rd leg and failed each time for one reason or another. I was so ready to be done with Graduate Novice and would have been perfectly happy qualifying with the required minimum of 170 out of 200 points.

Yesterday was a different story, and I wonder if the ring experience of the high-level exercises in APDT last weekend had something to do with it. I’m fairly certain that practicing for ASCA Rally Novice (on leash) since March had a positive effect, and possibly my change in posture, simply letting both arms hang naturally instead of carrying the left forearm across the front.

We only lost

  • 4 points total on the Heel on Leash/Figure 8 off Leash (which is amazing, considering that “silent” heeling in obedience is something Quigley doesn’t like),
  • 1/2 point on the Drop on Recall,
  • 3 points on the Dumbbell Recall (he needed an additional cue to finish), and
  • 2 1/2 points on the Recall over the High Jump (don’t remember what that was for, I could barely remember to breathe!)

No deductions on the Recall over the Broad Jump and 3-minute out of sight Long Down.

Out of a group of four dogs only two qualified, and when we went back into the ring for awards, I nearly passed out when the judge called us for first place! I thought for sure the German Shepherd, whom I had watched in Graduate Open earlier, had won. Not that it mattered, I was just so glad it was over, but of course a blue ribbon is always a nice bonus!

I can’t describe how good it felt to delete all the future planned Grad Novice runs from my trial calendar today. <G> Now we can focus our obedience efforts on Open, with a (hopefully short) detour of ASCA Novice B (for which I have no plans to specifically train).

APDT Rally, New Title, and Perfect Scores, oh my!

I have so many things to write about in today’s update, I don’t even know where to start!

Most importantly, my awesome little dog turned 10 today. Happy birthday, Quigley – my Novice A dog, or rather, my “novice everything in dog sports” dog. I’m so glad we found each other. You continue to do things that simply amaze me, even though we’ve certainly had our challenges and at times I’ve been frustrated. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to step back and look at the big picture, but I promise I’ll keep reminding myself.

Now, about last weekend’s trial:

Just like in May, I’m so glad I made the long drive to Redwood City for another chance to compete in APDT Rally. First that May trip was supposed to be our last APDT outing, as there are barely any trials nearby. Then I thought this one would be our last, as we accomplished our goal of earning that Level 3 title, but plans changed again. I am getting ahead of myself here though, so more on that in a moment.

We had a total of 6 entries for the 4 trials, one in Level 3 and one in Veterans for each morning trial Saturday and Sunday, and one in Level 3 for each afternoon trial. The goal was to try for that third and final leg for the RL3 title and two more Veteran’s legs (5 total needed in the Veterans B class for the RLVX title).

Saturday morning started with an NQ. This was only our 3rd Level 3 run ever, and all things considered it still went ok, except that Quigley did not take the offset jump on the directed jumping exercise (station 16). Failing to jump is an instant NQ without the possibility of a retry. He did the straight recall over the jump (station 13) perfectly, so not sure what he was thinking. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun with all the high level stations.

Next up was our first Veterans run. This is fun for the older dogs, only 12 stations minimum, no jumps, and very limited stationary exercises. You also get one extra “free” cue for each station – in the APDT regular classes each additional command/signal is a 3-point deduction. Turns out that this run (#187 of all our rally runs so far, but who’s counting <G>) brought us our first-ever perfect score (210)! As a cherry on top, we also won first place, out of a 3-way tie.

The running order on Saturday started with Level 3/trial 1 in the morning and ended with Level 3/trial 2 in the afternoon, so we went back to the hotel for a nice 4-hour nap.

In the afternoon we had our second chance at completing that RL3 title, and we did it! The course was harder than the morning one, but Quigley didn’t space out on the directed jumping. Unfortunately he went into pogo-stick mode during the last 4 exercises and left heel position several times, so we lost a lot of points on that, plus he didn’t do the bonus exercise correctly (call front – backup 3 steps, this one is hard!!!). We ended up with a score of 189 and 5th place. This time I actually remembered to hand my camera to someone, so there’s video!

With our title completed, I decided to move us to level 2B for Sunday, which allows us to start collecting points for the ARCH title (APDT Rally Champion). The requirements are 100 points total, with a minimum of 30 each from the Level 1B (on-leash) and Level 2B classes. Points are earnd based on scores, with 191 earning one point, 192 two points, and so on, up to 20 points for a perfect score of 210. Additionally, 5 double qualifiers in Level 1 and 2 in the same trial with both scores of 190 or better must be earned. This is our newest long-term project.

On Sunday morning I got yet another big surprise: one more perfect score, our first in a regular class! This is huge – again, in APDT any extra commands or signals are 3-point deductions, so to me this is even more amazing than if it had happened in AKC, UKC or ASCA, where unlimited cues are permitted without penalty (the ASCA Masters class being the only exception). As if that wasn’t enough, we also won first place and earned 20 points toward our ARCH, bringing our total to 24. (Video)

The second veteran’s run also went well, ending with 204 points and second place out of a 3-way tie. (Video) After that it was a long wait for our afternoon run, since I didn’t have the hotel room to go back to. I was in great company with all the nice folks there though, so it wasn’t too bad for me, but I think Quigley was getting tired and bored without anything to do. When we finally did go back in the ring, he popped up from his sit at the beginning of the angled recall exercise so we had to start that over, and was very distracted toward the end – not wanting to do fronts in two consecutive stations and needing retries and extra commands – so that I asked to be excused. The (awesome) judge encouraged me to keep going though, so I agreed and I’m really glad I did. He did the bonus exercise (moving down/leave dog/call front/finish) well, so we ended up with a not completely awful 187 points and another fifth place.

By the time awards were given out and I had the car packed up it was just before 5 pm and we still had a long drive ahead of us. I stopped for dinner in Santa Maria and finally arrived at home at 11.30 pm. So yes, another long weekend, but well worth it. I’m already looking forward to the next Just Rewards trial in March (?), and hopefully the Goleta Valley Dog Club will also have one again next year.