(I know the photographer is self-conscious about that picture being slightly out of focus and having the ring gate there, but I don't care, I love it. Also, it's still better than that other guy's. Just saying.)
This was a small, low-key trial, which I really appreciated because it meant we could just sit back and chat and say hi to friendly acquaintances and not worry too much about anything. No pressure at all, just a pleasant night out with the dogs.
It was almost enough to make me overlook that Pongu did pretty poorly his first few runs -- lots of distractedly wandering off, some anxious whining, a bout of apparent amnesia as to the meaning of the word "Front" -- but eventually he got his head back into the game and his last couple of runs were beautiful, marred only by a lousy retrieve (but at least he STARTED the retrieve, which is a tremendous improvement over our previous attempts) and one mistake on my part when I cued "Down" with the vocal intonation that I typically use for "Stand," so Pongu hesitated for a second and a half and then went up in a Stand because, hey, that was the tone I used, and he chose to resolve the conflict in cues that way. My fault, I'll watch that next time.
Anyway, the really important thing is that he qualified in all six of his entered runs, which he has never done before. In the past, we've always gotten at least one or two NQs on broken Stays or jump issues, but not that night. Pongu took all his jumps -- all of them! The off-set jump and the recall over jump and two send-by jumps! -- without a trace of hesitation, and his Stand-Stays were beautiful, and I had zero broken Sit-Stays, and his moving Downs were all good, and now that we've been doing this for a year, I can see that he's getting so, so much better at this game. I am truly excited to see how far we can go next year.