We attended our second APDT rally trial this weekend. Despite it being a 2-in-1 trial (two trials on the same day), there was no chance of earning a title. Just legs towards future titles. So I went in with a very no-pressure attitude. We went just to have fun (and collect more placement rosettes 😉 ). I’ve been working with Risa more on freestyle lately anyway so we hadn’t really done much rally practice. Still, after reviewing the signs last weekend, I figured we’d probably be alright.
I was not disappointed in our weekend. The weather was perfect. It was great reconnecting with friends and talking to the other competitors. The whole atmosphere of APDT trials just seems much more laid back than AKC trials. Though, I will admit to having only trialed at one location for APDT. But it reminds me more of freestyle. Casual. Supportive. And low-pressure. More emphasis on the fun!
Risa was on her best behavior all day. Even in fairly close proximity to other dogs, she was composed and under control. The only times she was mildly reactive were when we were just lounging about underneath the Sportbrella. And then, the worst she did was a hard stare and/or a growl which I easily cut off simply by calling her name. Not bad at all.
I wasn’t sure how well Risa would handle going in to the ring four times. The most she’s ever done in a day was twice at our last APDT trial. But I entered her in 2 Level 1 courses and 2 Level 2. First of all, she couldn’t WAIT to get into the ring! As soon as I got her out and walked close to it, she was pulling in the direction of the entrance. Risa was ready to go!
She started off great in her first Level 1 course despite some wandering and sniffing. She managed to get a score of 202 out of a possible 210 and took third place (we had stiff competition as we were up against dogs with high-level championship titles!). Her first foray into Level 2 wasn’t as nice as I would have liked and it featured our nemesis: the off-set figure 8. She NQ’d but not due to the wandering and sniffing. She didn’t perform the jump (and I wasn’t prepared for that to place myself in a way to reset her) and that’s enough to disqualify you in APDT. We should have prepared more for jumps especially because you aren’t supposed to walk right past them like you can in AKC. You’re supposed to be 6 feet away.
I also was not on my game during that first run. As soon as she took off sniffing, I started to get a bit stressed. I didn’t feel stressed but I did start doing the high-pitched chirpy cues and encouragement. That doesn’t work for Risa and I think that was part of the problem. I noted it to myself and vowed to not do that on our second Level 2 run.
In the afternoon trial, I approached our Level 2 run in a much more positive light. While Risa still did some wandering and sniffing, it wasn’t as bad. She was more connected with me and didn’t blow the jump (which is good because it was the first obstacle!). She bumped a couple signs because I didn’t place her correctly (signs tend to be a bit more close together in APDT vs. AKC). Her focus during the two recalls was actually pretty good (even though she wasn’t exactly looking at me, she did come when called). I almost blew the run entirely when I walked past one of the signs. But I knew something wasn’t right, caught my error, and did the sign before NQing us by doing the next sign. After that run, I was so proud of Risa. I think it was our best of the day. Even if it wasn’t our best score-wise (we had a 201 and got 2nd place), it felt like it was the best.
We finished up the day with our final Level 1 run. It wasn’t pretty; Risa caught a scent on the wind and it was hard to get and keep her attention when we were facing that direction. But we still managed a score of 198 and took 3rd place.
Overall, it was a wonderful weekend. It was a little bittersweet as well. This was the last APDT trial to be held at that location. I’m not sure now where I stand with APDT rally either. The entire program is up for sale so it’s future is uncertain. Will my titles transfer to the new organization? I don’t know. And, unfortunately, APDT trials aren’t as local as I would like. So I’m not sure if I will ever finish another title in this venue. I remember last year, after our first APDT trial, dreaming of Risa earning the ARCH (APDT Rally Champion) title and sort of set it as a goal. Now, I feel the likelihood of achieving high-level titles in APDT rally is highly unlikely. I suppose it’s a good thing that AKC changed their rules so that I feel comfortable attempting to earn the RE title with Risa. But, I must say, I am saddened to think that APDT rally is probably over for us so soon after our journey into it began. Especially since, after trialing in APDT rally last fall, I realized that Risa did enjoy rally after all. We might have given up on rally entirely if not for APDT!