5 March 2012

Last dog standing

After our (largely) disastrous weekend of five indoor Open obedience trials in Phoenix in early February when Miska blew 4 trials and only came home with one qualifying score for her Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title, I hemmed and hawed over whether to enter her at the Fiesta Cluster of five days of shows in Scottsdale, AZ from March 1 to 5.  This is an outdoor venue and in the past I swore never to trial outdoors again after Sasha and then Keira peed in the ring.  Not only is this a huge no-no resulting in an automatic failure, it's embarrassing and doesn't win you any friends because other competitors' dogs may then be tempted to do the same thing and 'mark' their scent.  And when you own a bird dog, outdoor trials can be a big distraction.  Going on point does NOT gain you any points from the judge although it may garner chuckles from the spectators.  Flies, bees, inclement weather, and heat or cold can also be more than annoyances, especially in the group exercises.

It was with major trepidation that I decided to send in entries for Miska.  With 5 days of trials at this cluster, I could see more dollars going down the drain in my effort to finish her Companion Dog Excellent title.  I decided only to enter two trials; the first day (Thursday) and the last day (Monday).  And that's all I needed because she surprised me by passing on Thursday March 1!!

Her performance, however, wasn't without a hiccup.  The first time I threw the dumbbell over the high jump, it went outside the ring.  As the judge moved to go pick it up, I told Miska to "break" which meant she was free to get up from a sit but she thought she was supposed to go fetch it.  Not long ago, I changed her command to "Over" from "Break" so it wasn't really a surprise that she then took the jump after I said 'break'. She reached the dumbbell before the judge did, picked it up but then went around  (not over) the jump to return to me.  For those not familiar with the rules, going around the high jump is an automatic fail.  Aaaaarrrrgggh!! This did not bode well. Anyway, I threw the dumbbell again but this time it fell quite short.  I thought it was too short and expected the judge to ask me to re-throw it but she said, "Send your dog." which I did and Miska executed a perfect exercise.  Huge relief!!  And then she finished with a perfect broad jump (her challenge) - the last exercise before the group sits and downs.  Whoooppppeeee!! I was elated because up to that point because it meant we were passing.

Miska with her High in Class and finishing title rosette.
In the end, Miska was the last dog left standing (so to speak) as we were the only team to qualify in Open A that day.  She got a 189.5 / 200 (very respectable) and High In Class.  Our judge was a Canadian from Manitoba, Gail Carroll, who had judged us last year (although Miska didn't pass then) and so it was nice to finish under her.

Although we had LOTS of fails, when Miska passed, she did it in style with two 1st and one 2nd place finish.  Thank you Miska!!  But remember, you still need two more Open legs to finish your Canadian CDX!