Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Qualifying in Novice Obedience for the First Time

I had always supposed that the first qualifying run in novice obedience would be a joyful experience. As usual, things didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped.

Jazz and I entered the Hawkeye Kennel Club trial last weekend. We were entered both Saturday and Sunday in Novice Obedience A. (The A means we are totally new to the obedience ring.) We have tried several times to get a qualifying score. Sometimes we are a total train wreck. Sometimes we get very close and one little thing goes wrong. Saturday was somewhere in the middle. We failed the recall. Jazz came straggling across the ring, but went right past me to stand and stare over the ring gates at .... something. He eventually wandered over and sat at my right heel. I have no explanation for this. The judge was trying to be kind and said that we had lost so many points during the heeling exercises that we needed a perfect score in everything else to qualify. That wasn't as comforting as she seemed to think it would be!

We stayed late to practice in the ring Saturday evening in hopes of showing improvement on Sunday. When the Novice A class was called on Sunday, we were the only team that showed up. I don't know why that bothers me, but I hate it! Usually there is at least one other team as bad as we are, and misery really does love company. The judge was very nice. This turned out to be somewhat of a problem. We began our heeling pattern and Jazz was wandering around and refusing to sit when we halted. Not new behavior, but I had hoped we were correcting this. Anyway, I won't go into all the painful details, but the judge basically said he wanted us to qualify. He kept telling me to relax, because the only way we could fail was if we completely screwed up an exercise. We ended up doing a little better at heeling than we have in the past. We did the stand for exam and the recall perfectly. The judge talked to me during the long sit and then went to write up the paperwork while we were still doing the long down. We did both of those correctly. He then came over and told me we had qualified. He warned me that another judge might not have seen it as a qualifying performance.

I was not overjoyed. I was not even very happy. I felt as if I had cheated. I did not want to be "given" a qualifying score. I wanted to earn it. Oh well. Every time I think we have reached the ultimate in ridiculous experiences in the ring - something tops it. This day just kept getting better.

I was leaving the ring with a blue ribbon (first place of course) and the lovely green qualifying ribbon and a nice squeaky toy for Jazz. The judge called me over and said the photographer was coming over from the breed ring and I should get a picture taken to commemorate this wonderful accomplishment. I declined. He insisted, while making charming remarks about getting his picture taken with a pretty girl and her handsome dog. I thought maybe we were going to get a 20 year old blond and a conformation Samoyed to pose for the picture. No such luck. I finally agreed and when the photographer was ready for us we went into the ring. I got all set for the picture and the photographer said, "You don't take a picture with the leash on the dog! JEEEZ!" So I took off the leash and had no idea what to do with it. I tossed it behind us. The lovely photographer said he couldn't believe what an idiot I was and went and picked up my leash. Then he started yelling at me to look at the dog's feet. I looked and there they were - big furry feet. He said they were in front of my feet. I was clueless. I tried to rearrange him and the photographer then said, "Do you suppose you could put that dog in the same zip code you're in?" I kept telling the guy to just take the picture. I would have walked away, but the dang judge had hold of me and the photographer had my leash! What a nightmare. I have not seen the picture yet, but I'll bet the look on my face is one of confused misery. Even the dog was having a lousy time by then. I have spent the last three days thinking up brilliant remarks to make the photographer feel as bad as I did. Alas - too little, too late.

I doubt if I will hang the picture on the wall when it comes. I would like to hang the photographer from a wall!

Thanks to everyone at the trial for your support and congratulations. See you in the ring.


  1. Welcome to the world of obedience insanity. It's an Alice In Wonderland sort of place but we like it there. You WILL get a leg (and title) to be proud of, I know it. And I want to see the pic when it comes.

  2. I was chuckling just imagining the photo experience! Sometimes you get Q's you don't deserve and sometimes you'll get screwed out of a Q. Karma Q smiled on you. Maybe the judge saw the immense effort you have put into working with Jazz and wanted to give you props for that? I have a herding run that I absolutely thought was a train wreck and we ended up getting High in Trial for it. I only saw the bad (Zoe chomping on the goats, Zoe pushing stock around at a HIGH rate of speed, Zoe ignoring my command to go after an errant goat) but the judge rated her enthusiasm, her dealing with the errant goat properly (if without my say so), and her pushiness (heel biting) as positives at that level. I literally had been near tears at the end of the run, thinking about how it SHOULD have gone. Now every time I look at that can coolie with HTD-G on it, I think of how much she enjoyed that run, and how I'd give anything for her to be out there again, young, strong, running like a maniac & heeling some goats. I think about all the good times we had running around after sheep, goats, and cows (um, training, yes training). So it's a Q you'll always remember, but it should also remind you that you and Jazz have worked very hard and had a lot of fun along the way to that very imperfect Q.

  3. ps The picture came Saturday. The judge looks good, the dog looks lovely, I look like either the bride of Frankenstein or an abuse victim. I was going to post the picture, but the paperwork that came with it says I will be sued if I reproduce it. He even offers a reward if someone finds out I reproduced it and tells him. I guess I wouldn't want that picture passed around either!