I took 6-1/2-year-old Dancer and 17-month-old Rush to Turner for the CPE trial last weekend. It was the usual single-ring Turner scene.
I’m trying to figure out how to describe Rush’s behavior. When we went into the ring for the first time (Jackpot), his reaction was “oh my god oh my god oh my god holy shit I wanna run”–he tore off his leash, rushed the course, lunged at me, barked at me, had to be told to sit mid-course, did a couple of obstacles really well (including a nice set of weaves), and came nicely to his leash at the end (something I was worried about). But no Q for that!
I realized that, while I had taught Rush to come to his leash at the end of the run, I had never trained start-of-run behavior. Usually, I go to the barn, I take off his leash, we work, then I practice end-of-run behavior (coming to the leash). Before the next run, I took him out in the field, and I practiced start-of-run behavior: sit nicely while I take your leash off and then stay sitting until I release you.
His second run came in standard. We got a two-step start-line stay. I didn’t try for more than that. In a previous post, I said that I wanted to make sure he held to my standards on his contacts. He did! He stopped! He also got two off-courses, so no Q. I learned a bit more about handling him at a trial. Calm hands, calm demeanor, run like hell.
Third run. Now, CPE has these weird games. Wildcard is a ten-obstacle sequence with three choice points. At each choice point there’s a harder option and an easier option. At the lower levels (where Rush and I are competing right now, in level 1), you get two easys and a hard. The course began with a jump-choice sequence; the choice was between the dogwalk (hard) and a tire-tunnel sequence (easy). Tire-tunnel, no question. I was even able to lead out past the tire. From there, the course went across the top of the arena, and the next choice was single jump vs. double. The double required a good bit of handling, so I opted for the straight line through the single jump. That meant I needed to push Rush down a straight line to the tunnel. Hmmm…. he’s pretty good at that! From the tunnel, it was jump, then a 180 turn to the last two jumps; I did a front cross to help him with the 180. He was going so fast that he almost collided with me at the front cross–and he did three obstacles (jump-tunnel-jump) while I did the front cross. He barked at me and I apologized to him. 71 yards: 13.4 seconds. Q. The next fastest dog in the class did the course in over 17 seconds. So that was Rush’s first Q ever.
Of course, we had five more runs over the weekend. Rush Qd in colors (and stopped on the dogwalk) and lunged at me; he Qd in Fullhouse (and I realized I need a send to the table); he Qd in Snooker (and I could have used a send to the table); he missed a dogwalk contact (and I stopped him and told him off and he got the next one–yes, there were two, and no a-frame) in regular. In Jumpers, our last run of the day, he was clearly tired, and perhaps I should have taken him home. He lunged at me, the judge saw something she didn’t like, and NT for us (meaning no time was recorded). Not a great ending to the day. The run was very fast, other than the one lunge, and I got a nice two-jump leadout, and no sass about leash removal.
To summarize: his contacts were mostly pretty good (and I held my criteria on the one occasion when they weren’t). He gets frustrated easily and comes in to me when he is, and yells at me. Jumps and lunges. I really need to work on that. He swears a lot on course when he doesn’t know what I want, and he and I need to learn to read each other better. I need a send to the table. His start-line stay was excellent by the end of the weekend. His coming-to-leash behavior was excellent. He never got the zoomies.
Dancer was also there. She was reliable, steady, easy… I may have been guilty of taking her for granted. She Qd in Jackpot (57 points!), Jumpers (31.57 seconds, 135 yards), and Colors (where she missed the weave entry, then did a fabulous fast set of weaves, with single-stepping).