This past Saturday was the big day! The day I have been awaiting for a very, very long time!
On Saturday it was finally time to take the "new Dean Dog" into Agility competition to see how much of his attitude in classes and at home would carry over. I was not disappointed!
Dean, Tessa, and I went to a CPE trial hosted by Rocky Creek Agility. We were signed up for Jumpers and Fullhouse, Dean in Level 2 for both, and Tessa in Level 3.
When I got there, I set up, walked Tessa's Jumpers course, gave each dog a walk and then brought Tessa into the building. I left Dean in the car until after Tessa's first run so I could focus entirely on her.
Tessa did well. I have no video of that first run. She got a little distracted by the second jump. There were two or three ring crew people sitting right near it. It seemed like a huge mob of people to me, but it probably was only two!
She hesitated and came off the jump, but I sent her back over it and she took it, so no problem. She ran nicely through a tunnel and then up the middle. I choked on a rear cross attempt and paused and swung her from my right to left side! I was off kilter with myself and didn't have the confidence to attempt it. Then, after another jump, Tessa turned as if I was doing a rear cross (odd), but she turned in the right direction and the rest of the course went off without a hitch.
I felt disjointed, but Tessa held with me through it (of course!) and we did pull of the Q. Sometimes it's not pretty, but it gets done!
I'm not sure if I was just a little distracted by my excitement over Dean or if Tessa's hesitation by the people got me out of whack, but it was what it was and in the end it was fine.
After Tessa had some time in her crate and some treats, I went out and got Dean. I took both of them for a walk on the grounds and then I brought them in so Dean could be in the building for a bit.
One thing I LOVE! This facility put in new flooring last spring and they went with green turf. If the jump bars fall out on the floor, you don't hear them at all! So, Dean could be in the building and I didn't have to worry about him getting fixated on falling bars!
It wasn't long before it was time to set up for the next class, so I put Tessa out in the car and spent some time alone with Dean. We did the engagement exercise from Bridging the Gap in the practice jump area! Oh, he was ON! Focused, excited, and just happy - so happy to be there!
Dean had none of his usual trial worries! It was an absolute delight! After we did our engagement and jump warm up, we hung out by his crate and he teased me to give him treats, chiefly by making goofy faces, which I happily gave him!
I left him in the crate while I went out to walk. When I returned, I was surprised to find I had forgotten to zip the crate up! Dean hung out in it happily in spite of that!
Finally, it was our time to run. Dean was a little distracted as we waited in the hole and on deck, but he was not worried about anything - just curious. But once we went in, he was completely focused!
It was the first time - ever - that I have walked into a competition ring with Dean without treats or a toy on me and was not worried about that fact in the least! I knew we were connected and I didn't need them to hold his focus!
The run itself was not flawless. I made two handling mistakes and pushed Dean off of jumps. But, he came back to take them happily. That is major progress! In the past, I could never ask him to retry jumps because he would get stressed and shut down! Now he was just like, "Again! Woohoooooo!!". I think that comes from our Obility work where he would do different things with the fly posts and jumps. Going back to do something else with it is just something we do - no big deal!
That said, it will always be one of my most favorite and memorable Agility runs ever! Dean was relaxed and happy in the ring. He wanted to be there! He wasn't concerned about anything and was happy to work with me as a team!
He was the Dean Dog I have always wanted in the competition ring! The run actually felt like it lasted about 2 minutes and I would have savored more time than that out there with him. In reality, it was only about 40 seconds!
I do have a video:
My absolute favorite part of this is the last two jumps! The hardest part of the course for Dean has always been the part that turns back toward the people. He has mentally frozen there time and time again.
Not this time! He was confident, eager, and maybe even in the mood to show off a little!
This was one of those moments that make it all worthwhile! All of the work, all of the tries that didn't pan out, all of the quitting and trying again!
At least for one day, Dean and I were a team out there! I will savor this for a very, very long time!
To be continued . . .