This year started off pretty rough for Risa with a diagnosis of IVDD and 6 weeks of strict crate rest. That was followed by months of intensive physical therapy and, still, I had no idea if she would ever compete again.
Since her future was uncertain, I decided to get a puppy. A Windsprite named Kyu is my next partner in training. He adores Risa and she loves to play with him too!
However, Risa made it clear to me she was not ready to retire. She finished her PCD title in AKC obedience in June. In the fall, she danced again and earned her Veteran In-Sync Entry title in RFE musical freestyle. As if that weren’t enough, she finally got back into the rally ring this weekend and finished her ASCA RNX title with style!
I had minimal expectations for her this weekend. We haven’t practiced rally since prior to her injury. And, to be fair, we never really practiced much rally at all! Lately, when training, it’s been harder to get her engaged with me. I know part of it is due to her age; she’s starting to reach the point where she says “not gonna” more frequently. I just wanted to have a good time with my girl while she still wants to play these games with me.
We trialed in ASCA rally for the first time at this trial last year. Risa earned one leg towards her RNX title. The “X” means that she scored at least 195 out of a possible 200. Knowing how little we’d trained and her physical limitations, I put the dream of the RNX title out of my mind. I just knew the chances of her achieving such a lofty goal were unlikely.
It was a small trial with two competitions on the same day. Her first time in the ring could have been a disaster. She caught a whiff of a super interesting smell right before we were due in! I let her wander off in search of it as best I could. I knew there was no way she’d ignore it so I gave her a chance to seek it out. She never found it but it was apparently enough to put it off her mind when it was our turn.
The run was actually quite nice. She did her sits in front (which she hasn’t been doing at home) and her attention was actually nice! Risa placed 2nd with a score of 196. The RNX was still within our grasp!
For her second run, I knew she’d either be better because she’d already been in the ring once or she’d be worse because she was tired. It was a long day at the show and she’s almost 13! Her second run was outstanding. I could feel it while I was out there. She was engaged and responsive. She nailed everything. I knew it was good. I praised her to the moon after it was done and thanked her for being so amazing and awesome. I knew it had been probably her best run in rally EVER! I just hadn’t expected it to be a perfect run. That’s right. My dog reactive, fearful, busted-back, old fart of a dog got her first perfect score ever. A 200! I couldn’t believe it. This dog is like a fine wine; just keeps getting better with time.
As long as she still wants to play, she will. I can’t believe we finished out this year with four new titles in three sports. . .and a PERFECT SCORE!! <3