I’m incredibly proud of Risa today. She was an absolute rockstar at the rally trial. This was our first time at this location and I was a bit nervous. I don’t like not knowing what to expect; I like to plan things really well so Risa can succeed and feel safe. On top of that, with the exception of Friday, every day this week was too cold for us to go for our walks. I was really worried I was going to have a stir crazy dog on my hands!
I needn’t have worried so much. While she was mildly stressed by the new trial environment, she was not terrified. I never expect her to enter a new place and be like “Oh new place? Lots of dogs and people I don’t know? Whatevs. We’re cool.” Mild distress is to be expected. But even our long-time trial buddy commented on how much calmer Risa seemed in the new environment. Ris didn’t even mind the dogs in close proximity even if they inadvertently ended up in her face! She even felt comfortable enough to get all up in people’s stuff and had to investigate every single person that walked by. It got a little frustrating that she was magnetized to everyone but it’s hard to get mad at her. Curiosity is a good thing in a fearful dog!
Even though I struggled to get her focus on me while we were preparing to enter the ring (something that is a huge stressor for me), she was really good in the ring. I still lost her several times but no where near as badly as I used to. And, when she did wander, it was easy for me to get her back and refocused on the task at hand. (I tell you, having a dog who really REALLY understands heel position is a lifesaver when she’s a wanderer too. I just need to recue “fuß” and she flips right back into position without me needing to move my feet. Saves us from losing more points!) Both courses were a little tight but all the signs were ones I knew she could do. They were also well laid out so that we had enough stationary signs to keep Risa focused better. I’m really proud of how well she nailed some of the signs. Especially the halt, call front, finish left, halt sign on our Advanced course. Ris tends to have trouble getting straight on the front from a sit in heel position. We’ve been working on it using a tip from Denise Fenzi. I have Ris go through my legs after calling her front which helps keep her straight in anticipation. IT WORKS! She did it beautifully in the ring even though she doesn’t always in training. 🙂
Risa scored well also. She had a 93 in Excellent and just missed fourth place by 2 points. Not bad out of 20+ dogs! Her Advanced run was a 92; this is the first time she has scored higher in Excellent than Advanced. She now has four RAE legs. Just six more to go!
I’m so incredibly proud of her. I knew today was going to be tough for her. I’m so happy to see a much more focused worker at my side. Even more focused than the last trial where she was at “home base.” She also got a lot of compliments on her attitude in the ring as well. She often does. I’m glad to have “the happy dog” as my partner.