Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WCRL Trial 10/25, TU Post on OTCh-ery

This past Saturday, Pongu had his one and only Rally trial for October.

It was mostly not spectacular. We hadn't been to a trial in over a month, and we've been working almost exclusively on agility stuff rather than Rally exercises this fall, so we were both a little rusty. Plus I was getting over a cold, and Pongu was a little squeaky and worried (not nearly the worst he's ever been, but not the best, either), so we weren't on our A-game going in.

The Oakes trials are some of the biggest ones all year and draw a tough crowd of competitors, and this year's fall trial was no exception. Huge class entries (with lots of new teams, always good to see!), some of the top teams around, very tough competition (but in a good, fun way -- it's always awesome to see your friends do well, and there's never any nastiness in WCRL!).

Accordingly Pongu did not place in the ribbons once during his first five runs. He did poorly a couple of times and kinda-sorta okay-ish a couple of times, but "okay" doesn't get you very far in that crowd. Which is fine; I thought the judging was very fair and we got the scores that we deserved.

And then somehow Pongu calmed down and got his head in the game and just destroyed the last Level 3 run, which was a fairly challenging course (including the Stand With Distraction bonus exercise, historically his worst and weakest one). Perfect score of 210, first place on time (against Edith!! Edith the Ultra-Awesome Border Collie!! That is a rare and precious victory to savor), one of the best runs Pongu's ever done. I sorely wish I'd gotten that one on tape.

Of course if someone had been taping it, he would have totally bombed out, but still.

So that was it for us in WCRL this month. We have a couple of trials in November, in which Pongu might or might not finish his MX2, and a couple in December, and then we're probably finished with Rally until Pongu can start competing in Veterans and/or we fail out of agility so spectacularly that I go crying back to our old familiar stomping grounds.

Also I had another post go up on Team Unruly recently on The Problem of the Force-Free OTCh, which is a piece that I am proud of because our Revered Instructors said they liked it, and yay! sparkles and rainbows!, it is pretty spiffy when people that you admire say that you got something right.


  1. Wow, so awesome to hear of a rally trial with big entries! We just had one canceled for low entries, super bummer.

    1. Our training club had to cancel their August trial for low entries too, because it overlapped with another, bigger trial in the same area and our region doesn't have enough of a competitor base to support two trials on the same day.

      The Oakes trials do so well for a couple of reasons, I think: one, the judges are all trainers themselves, and they strongly encourage their students to go to those trials for a friendly, fun, and welcoming environment (there are a few student teams that only do those trials every year and never show anywhere else); two, it's a facility used by many different trainers, so a lot of people are familiar with that specific venue and know what to expect from their dogs in that environment; and three, they have one of the best trial secretaries in the business. She is SUPER professional, hyper-organized, and just so all-around awesome at her job that I think it's a material factor in increasing turnout.

      So they've pretty much got all their bases covered in terms of generating entries from their own students and also appealing to a wide range of regular competitors on the circuit. Not everything they do is feasible for other clubs to imitate, but there's definitely some stuff there that people could incorporate.

  2. Congratulation!
    Your blog is very inspiring. We just adopted a ~ 3 month old GSD mix and I cannot wait to do fun things with him later. How did you exercise Pongu when he was a puppy? The 5 minutes per age in months rule seems so limiting.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. Thanks!

      You know, I honestly have no idea what Pongu's exercise regimen was when he was a puppy. It wasn't anything structured. I didn't know enough then to have a clear idea of what he should or shouldn't be doing, and even if I'd had a plan, he was so incredibly terrified of the entire world back then that we wouldn't have been able to do much of it.

      When Pongu was a puppy, I couldn't do clicker work with him inside because he'd flee the room in terror at the sound of the clicks. I couldn't do ANYTHING with him outside because he'd just be a statue of fear or else bolt uncontrollably without thinking.

      Probably at that point I was just flailing around trying to figure out what to even do with him. But I didn't start to have any kind of real plan until he was maybe... seven or eight months old?

      Sorry, I know that's not much help. There is a really good Facebook group called Canine Conditioning and Body Awareness that has a ton of great material on puppy exercises, though, and also Silvia Trkman just released a new DVD on her puppy program for her dogs' first five months that's getting good reviews (I haven't seen it yet myself as I have no prospect of getting a new puppy anytime soon).

    2. Thank you for the recommendation! I will check it out.
      You did an amazing job with Pongu! He's a real champion.