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.