On Sunday 17th May, still recovering from a very dodgy tummy the day before, and being fuelled by only a few mouthfuls of cornflakes, I rocked up to my first show of the year! Not just the year, but our first show since injury!
We arrived at quarter to 12 and checked the agility ring first, great they were only just starting the class before mine, then over to the jumping ring and the G1-3 was just being walked. Nice timing! I walked it then we headed off to give Guinness a good run and warm up. I was staying with Ash on the farm for the weekend, which was handily closer to Catton Hall than my house, so he decided to join me for the day.
The queue for the jumping was nice and relaxed and I was feeling good. I had Guinness off lead outside of the ring quite early, rewarding every so often and we were into a calm down wait. I walked away feeling confident but to my complete surprise (for once) he was up and over the first jump before I’d barely taken 2 steps! I made a split-second decision and called him back into a wait. Grr. I walked away past the first jump but even then as I turned to look at him he set off so I ran for it. Clutching my hat, which apparently wasn’t fastened tight enough, we clumsily made it through the first section, although I didn’t cue the turn early enough, then into right hand weaves and he nailed a tricky entry, good boy! I didn’t push him but he skipped the last pole. Never mind we carried on, another messily missed jump but then I bossed the front cross in front of the tunnel and over the finish.
As I ran out of the ring to get my lead with Guinness bouncing alongside me a dog that was stood with its owner on the finish line lunged at him. Guinness turned and growled and faced up to the dog and I quickly called him away, which he did immediately thankfully. What a stupid place to stand?! Especially with a dog that is going to lunge. The owner corrected her dog but as I walked by later on they were still stood there. I nearly said something and wish I had but I thought it best to get Guinness out of the way and finally reward him.
Time for a cool-down and lunch (for Ash anyway, they’d ran out of fruit and bread, the only 2 things I felt I could stomach) and we chilled out for a while as the Agility ring I was waiting for had closed for lunch.
An hour later, another walk and then I found myself making the same old decision… do I run start or try for a wait and risk throwing away another run. I decided to run start as I didn’t want to waste both of my runs. Onto the start line and off we went, it was a short two jumps to dog walk and Guinness knocked the 2nd pole, probably not helped by the run start. Onto the dog walk and he held his contact, good, then what I felt like was a good wing wrap onto the Aframe. 2/2 contacts great so far! Seesaw, he self released and then I got too far ahead for the rear cross and he turned off the jump, I should have pushed for the front cross instead! Tunnel, jump, weaves, I tried to hang back and let him find his entry for the weaves but he landed long and went in at pole 2, retry and he only did 11 poles, last attempt and he nailed 12! Well done.
Not a bad first show! I couldn’t see any signs of pain, stiffness and definitely no limping at all. Hopefully this is the first good sign that we are ready to get back into competing this summer! Although what am I going to do about his waits?! Grr.
Back at the farm by 3pm and I collapsed onto the sofa, apparently looking a funny shade of grey. I’m glad I went though and it was definitely a successful first competition back, even Ash said so, although he also called us rubbish as per normal.
Then on Monday, after managing to eat three full meals for the first time in a few days, we were under a different kind of pressure! When Guinness first picked up his injury I’d decided to train on a Gold class at Dig It to get back into obedience and try to get our final Good Citz Gold level, which we’d only not got due to Guinness’ issue with being inspected by other people. Due to the timing of the 8 week courses I waited until I was back from Australia, and now this week it was test night! A few weeks ago I wasn’t going for it, deciding he wasn’t ready to be health checked without stressing, but after a good training session last week and considering which assessor it was we decided to go for it.
I felt fairly chilled as I stepped up to do the first exercise, recall from a wait (see he can wait fine in obedience) into off lead heelwork, but then when I sat down my heart was racing! Obviously I was a little nervous after all. Throughout the evening Guinness performed each task to his utmost best ability! We’d casually been training the exercises long before the 8 week training course, but even I was impressed with the finesse he carried them out with on Monday. His stop the dog, which I do on a “down” command, was absolutely instant! Unlike last weeks effort which took two commands! The dreaded handling came and he held himself still (although a little wild eyed) while Wendy the assessor looked at his eyes and ears. Then will a little persuasion he let me open his mouth. Inspecting his legs, belly and under the tail was a doddle as we went into the routine that we’d developed for the physio to check over his legs, and we were done.
I was absolutely over the moon! I still am!! I never thought we’d do this. Wrongly so, I’d just come to accept that the Gold was something we wouldn’t achieve and resigned myself to being happy with the fact that I could train the other exercises on my own, just not the handling.
It just goes to show that in many cases you shouldn’t give up and decide that your dog can’t or wont do something. Any issue can be worked on and improved with time!
What a topsy turvy weekend! And I’m not just talking about my stomach.