A second weekend of great trials! This past weekend both dogs were entered in APDT Rally Obedience, but with Pinot in heat – she had to stay at home…while Maggio and I got another one-on-one trialling weekend with more successes in the ring. Saturday morning he finished his Level 2 title and moved on to level 3 for the afternoon…

The level 3 course presented us with a couple of “firsts”. While we have done a fair bit of dumbell and retrieve work, this was the first time for us to do a retrieve in a trial situation – and I could not be happier with his clear understanding;  he did as well as ever; “piece of cake!”. The other “first” was the winged jump on course. While we have done a fair bit of jumping and Maggio absolutely loves to jump —  I wondered how the wing-jump would be received…as he had never seen one (let alone jumped one) before! None of my own jumps have wings, but the boy did not even hesitate when asked to go “Over!” – he flew out and over the jump like he had done it a hundred times before. Good boy! Bad trainer for not introducing him to a winged jump before a trial situation!
At any rate – I was thrilled with our 206 score (In APDT Rally 210 points is the best score possible…200 for the course and an additional 10 points which can be earned in a BONUS exercise) – which placed us first and got a High in Trial in level 3A. The point deductions came from a crooked sit and paw movements in the “moving stand/ walk around” exercise. Giving me good information about what I need to work on for next time 🙂

On Sunday we returned for a second level 3 trial. By now, with two weekends of trials in a row and several appearances in the ring, I was actually quite relaxed! How absolutely nice to go in to the ring and not feel terrified!  🙂 And I think Maggio picked up on my relative looseness, too. He was definitely “high” in the final run! This dog is going to keep teaching me so much about arousal – I will forever be a student, trying to figure out this arousal business and how to harness it to our best advantage. I am sure many people and experienced handlers who have trialled for a long time and have done this a ton, “get it”. But I still consider myself a new learner in many respects – and also; Maggio is my first competition dog. What a great teacher he has been!

Anyhow – for this final level 3 run of the weekend – My boy was “ON” and did a beautiful run…his arousal almost a bit “too high”, as was apparent by some whining and vocalizing – but he stayed connected the whole time and was totally a “thinking/listening dog” despite pushing the upper boundary or workable arousal… but mostly it was also obvious he really had a great time! I truly think he was enjoying himself and enjoying being in the spotlight. The applause at the end had him go totally silly and wiggly and bouncy and happy and goofy. What a fun way to end a great two weekends of trials! And the fact that it earned us another first place and High in Trial didn’t hurt either! With a 208 now…two points deducted – one for slight paw movement in the same “moving stand/walk around” and one for the “off-set figure 8 with food bowls” looking at the bowls and thus taking a bit of a wide/slow turn…yeah – I am pretty thrilled overall… It is SO exciting to be at this point of our journey!

We’re both willing students and keep learning from each other, we both love the moments of training and spending quality time together – and granted, some days it has felt like we will never be ready…now, I know I am mostly working on my own ability to stay calm, focused and normal…while we continue on this fun journey that has only just begun! What a Fantastic Dog I have been blessed with!

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