There is no other way to say this. Our obedience was one disaster after another and was, by far, the worst obedience routine I have ever done.
Bullet and I made it to the club by 6:30 as the trial was set to start at 7:30 and we were on first. Turns out that the time was pushed back to 9:00 so more people could watch. No big deal, I got my car under the tree I wanted and hung around for a few hours.
During those few hours the wind picked up, the sky darkened and it started to rain. Then it started to pour. And thunder. With lightening.
Obedience - Take 1
At approximately 8:50 the judge told us we were on in 10 minutes. I pulled Bullet from my car and did my pre-trial ritual. But he was high - too high. He crosses the peak performance line and descends rapidly into the pink zone. When he reaches this state of mind there is nothing I can do to bring him back down, no magical button to push. Not good.
Reaching the field we were waiting for the judge to start the day. They then made the decision to hold off for another 1/2 hour hoping the storm would settle. It was actually quite dangerous, lightening was streaking all around us.
Back into the car Bullet went.
Obedience - Take 2
Half an hour later we were told to get our dogs to try again, even though the weather was no better than before. Any hope that this second chance would give me another opportunity to get the right state of mind with Bullet was dashed as soon as I pulled him from the car. He was wound tighter than before. Verbal leakage and shaking is never a good sign. I must work on finding that elusive "calm down" button.
We did our long down first. Reporting in and heeling down field was a whiny event, but he kept his position and he went down, and stayed down. In the SchH3 you leave your dog and go into the farthest blind down field where he can not see you. I could still see him through the hole in the blind though. My poor, poor dog was getting pummeled by the rain, but he STAYED SOLID. Downs have never been our strength and for him to stay there, in that weather, in that state of mind is a massively huge success. We've been working hard on this and I saw results. What a good boy.
The weather got worse in the few minutes we were out there. I thought for sure a tree was going to come down in the wind.
The guy on the field did his heeling and his motions, and was about to do his retrieve over the jump when the judge called it off. The weather was too bad, we'd start again when it calmed down. I couldn't hear a thing and was focused on my dog, the judge had to come over to the blind to tell me this.
I collected my dog and we ran off the field, playing tug with his leash the whole way. Like I said, I was so happy with him for holding his down in that storm.
Obedience - Take 3
Still raining, still thundering, with lightening still streaking across the sky... we were called out to try again. Would Bullet be in a calmer state this time? Um, no. He was a basket case at this point.
Before he was merely whining and shaking, this time he was a barking fool. All the way down field. In his down stay. Woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof! He'd had enough. I stood in the blind and felt waves of despair flow over me, I wanted to grab my dog and make a run for it, but you can't do that. Bullet would have nothing to do with the stay this time, he was creeping towards me between barks and made it to the 3rd blind before he stopped.
I managed to pull myself together before the judge signaled me to get my dog. Walking back to him I realized I had to power through, we had no other option. I couldn't give up yet!
Heeling was horrendous. His attention was non existent. He actually stopped in the middle of the heeling pattern to shake water off himself, something he's never done before.
His motions were slow but passable.
Retrieve on flat was meh.
When it came to the jump I set up and threw the dumbbell and it didn't even make it to the jump, it slipped out of my fingers and landed just in front of it. How embarrassing. I had to leave Bullet, grab the dumbbell and throw it again. This exercise was ok.
The wall... oh, the wall. We set up and I managed to throw the dumbbell over this time. Bullet waited until released, ran over, collected the dumbbell then thought he'd loop over and check out the judge. Sigh.
This caused him to come back to the wall on an angle. That, and the rain, caused his front feet to slip out from under him and he crashed face first into the side of the frame. Of course I could see none of this from my angle, I just heard the bang. Bullet dropped the dumbbell, picked it back up and came around the wall into front position. Blood was pouring from his mouth. I took the dumbbell, asked him to heel and finished that exercise.
(They had to come and clean the blood off the dumbbell before starting the next round)
Thanks to Susan St. George for taking this picture.
While waiting for the other guy to collect his dog from the long down I had a chance to check Bullet's mouth for missing teeth, but they all seemed to be accounted for.
The sendout... Not bad at all. His focus was better in the heeling, he spun once and barked before taking off, but once committed he was fast, straight and listened to my down command.
I was in tears during my critique and didn't even hear my score. I was sure we had failed but I truly didn't care. I needed to make sure Bullet was ok, and I was worried that the reason he crashed in the first place was because of his leg - it was all my fault.
Giving him a good examination afterwards showed a hole in his tongue. That's where all the blood was coming from. He was walking fine and looked to be no worse for wear, believe it or not.
Turns out the judge gave us a 75 out of 100. It's an awful score but an unbelievable pass.