For Day 2 of obedience at this year's FCRSA National, I had Gryff entered in Versatility, Ty entered in Grad Open (1st try) and the pair entered in Brace. Gryff earned his one VER leg at last year's National, and this would be our 1st time doing it since then.
Versatility has 2 exercises from Novice, 2 from Open, and 2 from Utility. When it was a non-regular class, it was up to the judge to pick the exercises. Now, there are 12 different combinations from which the judge picks. We had V4- Novice Heel Free, Recall, Retrieve on Flat, Retrieve Over High Jump, Moving Stand and Exam, Directed Jumping. What was interesting and a bit worrisome was the judge had us heel to the outside of the high jump that was on the left. We did a fast with the dog between handler and jump and I wondered if some rally or agility dogs would take it on the fast. We also did the Novice recall there. I did see one dog take the jump on the recall.
While Gryff had been decently "up" on Tuesday, he was at his jolliest in Versatility. He warmed up a bit more crisply and he worked the same way in the ring. It tends to make a nice spiral upwards, in that when he's like that, when I release him between exercises, I'm happier, which in turn makes him happier. It is something I need to keep in mind when I get back to obedience with him in the future! It all added up to a 197.5 and 1st place in the class.
Back last fall, after Ty finished her CDX, I have been aiming to show her in Utility for the 1st time at this National. But about three months ago, her signals were a mess, and her articles were still tied together, and, and, and... About two months ago, I made what turned out to be a superb decision, which was to aim her for Grad Open instead of Utility. What it meant was that I continued to train her in Utility, but without the pressure I might have felt (okay, would have felt) had we been going into Utility. Because of the field work we've been focused on, there wasn't that much time for obedience training, but it was enough to feel ready. When we entered the ring Wednesday, I felt ready for the simplified exercises required in Grad Open. She did have a no-sit on heeling, and walked back with the correct article (I haven't had a walk back since Tramp did several 20 or so years ago when showing outdoors in 90+ degree weather, so it was a bit of a shock!), but her signals were great. I used a verbal on the stand stay and on the down, but more as insurance than necessarily needing them. Her sit and come were great. Her glove was zippy, especially when compared to the slow article return. Her moving stand? Zero off! This from a girl who hasn't been quite sure about the call to heel. Her go-out wasn't quite where I wanted it to be, but we haven't proofed for go-outs towards an in-use rally ring. She ended up with a 192.5 and 1st place in the class.
The morning of the day we left on the trip, I trained some obedience, particularly some brace work. For the brace class, you do a Novice routine, but with two dogs. You are allowed to 'couple' them together with a coupler, i.e., 2 clips connected to a ring for your leash. The clips attach to each dogs' collar. I didn't use one last year because Ty kept ending up in the wrong place, and I couldn't sort her out without either physically moving her or uncoupling them. I decided that Friday morning to try Gryff on the inside, since when he is on the outside (which is how I did it last year), they were both heeling badly - Gryff forging and side-winding, and Ty lagging because Gryff was crowding her a lot. I found with him on the inside, at least he would heel well. Warming up at the trial, I tried holding my left arm straight down during the on-leash heeling, and I think it worked pretty well. All in all, the routine went MUCH better than last year, with one no sit from Ty. The only funny part was the recall - Gryff was looking over his shoulder when I called (I DID wait for him to look back, but then gave up). Ty came promptly, Gryff shortly after her. When she was almost to me, she turned around to see why Gryff was chasing her, and he ended up in a nice front with her more or less already finished.
Gryff decided to show me just how briefly he thinks he needs to do a sit stay, and was down before I crossed the ring. This cost us 15 points, and we ended up with a 180 and 2nd place. Interestingly enough, the other 3 braces were all handled by men. I don't think I've ever been in an obedience class with 75% men before :-).
So, Gryff earned 2 1sts and 2 2nds in obedience, and Ty a 1st and a 2nd. Pretty fine results, all in all.
That evening was a banquet along with the annual meeting. Ann G, who is going to be co-chairing obedience at next year's national, picked my brain about what her duties will be. I felt like I was doing a brain dump :-).
The next morning, I packed up to head home to work on final preparation for my son Ryan's graduation party, scheduled for Saturday. Friday afternoon, my husband Fritz and I headed back for the Awards banquet and final goodbyes to my many old and new FCR friends. This was my 7th National in a row, and I'm looking forward to next year's already!