Today was the first day of the UKC trials, and Maisy and I were entered in level 1 of rally.
How did we do? Well, it depends on how you define success. If you define success by ribbons and placements and scores, we didn't do so hot. She scored an 88, which was well below the placements, and frankly, well below her abilities.
Still, I'm going to call the day successful. Sure, I'm mildly disappointed with our score, but Maisy was surprisingly relaxed for being at a trial! She only "wuffed" twice, which is her "I'm on alert" noise, but she was controlled and didn't display any reactivity. For most of the time, she had relaxed body language- looseness through her whole body, a slow, soft helicopter tail, and a happy, open-mouthed expression on her face. She warmed up well, very attentive and snappy, and while she wasn't quite as precise as she is at home, she had excellent enthusiasm.
I'm not sure what happened when we went in the ring. She became distracted and disengaged from me. She sniffed a lot, and twice she had to stop, sit and scratch herself. Those are stress displacement behaviors, and I haven't seen the scratching in a long time.
If we'd been at an APDT trial, I would have whipped out the treats to help transform the ring into a positive space. Since I couldn't do that, I simply waited patiently for her to finish scratching, praised her like crazy for her moments of attention (and really, she had some nice moments), and kept smiling. I knew our score was going to suck, and it didn't matter. Perhaps I should have left the ring. If she was so stressed that she disengaged from me, there wasn't much point in continuing. But I didn't think about that, and I'm not sure how to leave the ring gracefully.
We show again tomorrow, and I need to give some serious thought into going in, doing one or two signs successfully, and then leaving. Of course, I know that if we get a couple of really good signs, I'll want to push for more, for the whole course, so I'm going to have to decide what to do in advance... I'm not sure what my other options are.
What would you do if you were in this situation?