Last Saturday morning @ the Grand Rapids KC trial, I earned my 8th UD. Border Terrier Joker is now Kandu's The Joker is Wild UD RE RL2 and officially our Retired Dog. Joker turned 10 on May 5 this year. We bought him for our son when Chris was 12. Chris trained him in agility for a couple of years, but didn't have any desire to compete with him. Back in 2006, I asked Chris if I could take Joker along to the BT National, which would prevent me from putting all of my eggs in Java's basket (plus it's much more fun to show a couple of dogs at Nationals and in several events). Joker earned his 1st RN leg there and his only agility leg (in Std).
Over the intervening years, I kept plugging away on his training - "Oh, heck, we might as well finish his RN." "Oh, what the heck, let's try Advanced Rally." "Oh, let's try for a CD." And so it kept going. We didn't do rally excellent initially because he didn't know how to stand without physical help. Once I taught him the signal st and for utility, we went back and got his RE. He didn't learn to retrieve until he was 5 years old or so. He almost always got only leftover training time from me. Sometimes, he only practiced exercises at seminars doing demoes. Because of my summer time devotion to hunt test training with my Flat-Coats the past several years, he got essentially NO training during the summer months.
It was never my intention to try to be competitive with him, but instead to see what it was like to title a dog without being concerned with high scores. His first Utility leg was a 178, and I was thrilled when we got that green ribbon. That was in October last year, after 5 weeks of cramming.
All in all, we showed 8 times in Utility B together (B because of my OTCh titles), finishing his title in the 7th trial. He failed Signals only once. He failed articles in 3 of those trials (in all 3, that was all he failed), Directed Jumping twice, and the Moving Stand once (he anticipated the return the trial before his 3rd leg). What is remarkable is that he never failed the Directed Retrieve - remarkable because it was his most frequently failed exercise in training.
Joker taught me that you can judge quite a bit about where your dog is during heeling or pivots via shadow - I often couldn't actually see him, but could see by his shadow that he was close to heel position. I'm much more aware of the frequency of shadows at trial sites than I used to be
. Quite often after an about turn, I would glance ahead and to my right - phew, he's not there, I guess he must be reasonably close to where he belongs.
So, thanks for joining me on this different journey, Joker. You made me try some different ways to train an exercise, since my usual way wasn't working for you. Training you has helped remind me of how much I enjoy training my terriers. You helped make a lot of people smile, especially me.
Happy Retirement, Joey!