After the obedience trial in December, I wasn’t sure what our competition future held. While she did very well, she was also very stressed afterwards- so much so, in fact, that if I hadn’t suspected that the hustle and bustle of Christmas was a contributing factor, I probably would have retired her for good right then and there. Instead, I decided to test this theory by taking her to one or more two trials. I figured that would allow me to make a better decision. So, on Saturday I took Maisy to a UKC rally trial and entered her in a single level 1 run.
She did great! She completed her URO1 title. I was pretty happy about that since we got the first two legs two years ago, and I’d sort of given up on completing it. I was even more excited to learn that she’d finished her title with a perfect score of 100 (our first perfect score ever!), which was good enough for first place, high scoring mixed breed dog, and high in trial!
I was really, really happy with the more subjective measures of her performance, too. She remained engaged with me for the entire course. She was quick to respond to my cues. Her little tail was wagging and happy, and she just overall looks loose and relaxed.
I think the best part, though, was that she wasn’t overly stressed by the whole thing. We had to wait for over an hour for our turn, and it was too cold to crate in the car, so she was right there ringside with everyone else. She laid in her crate the entire time, rolled over on a hip. She took treats with a soft mouth, and was happy to socialize with people without being frantic and over-the-top about it.
The trial site was crawling with triggers, too: dobies and shepherds and the sound of choke chains/slip collars and stressed people… I was worried. She did stare a bit, and she thought about rushing towards a weim at one point, but she was easily redirected. The only disappointing moment happened when I left her in her crate to go walk the course. A handler with a shepherd was warming up by playing tug only a few feet from Maisy’s crate, and she barked several times. That was unfortunate, but completely understandable… and it clearly didn’t affect her ability to bounce back and compete successfully.
The real test, though, came later. Since she was practically crawling out of her skin after the last trial, I was concerned about how she would be at home. She was definitely tired on Saturday afternoon, and slept like a rock. But after her nap, she bounced up, ready to play ball and go about her normal routine. There was no edginess either that night or the next day. She did bark a bit on Sunday, but nothing outside what a normal dog does.
All in all, I think it is safe to continue trialing with her. We will still take things slowly. Our next scheduled event is in April, when there are CDSP obedience and APDT rally trials being held together. My tentative plan is to enter one run, and then take stock of how her stress-levels are doing. If she’s doing okay I’ll either enter her in a second run that day, or I’ll enter her in one run the second day. I’m not sure which yet- nor am I sure if I’ll do CDSP or APDT.
No matter what I decide to do, our competition future is looking bright, and I am so proud of my Maisy!