That’s what I said as I left home last night for the Puyallup dog shows. If Cooper and I got one qualifying score in Rally Advanced, I’d be happy. If we got two, I’d be delighted. And if we got three, I’d be ecstatic.
As it stands now, I’m happy.
In today’s Rally Advanced run, we got a score of 91 out of 100. Qualifying is 70 points, so 91 is quite respectable, right in the middle of the pack.
The run started out well. There was a jump (exercise 103) early on, and Cooper likes those. Then there was a Fast Pace exercise (exercise 18), which Coop also likes because it involves running.
But then we came to the serpentine. Coop is usually good at the serpentine. In class, anyway. But actual competition, well… that’s different.
Outside that edge of the ring, there were people sitting and chatting. Several of these people, this being a dog show, had dogs with them. Right in the middle of the run, Cooper decided that he wanted to go have a closer look at one of these dogs, so he left my side and walked over to the edge of the ring.
He forgot that we were working. He completely spaced out that I was there. The synapses between his ears and his brain temporarily shut down, and he obviously didn’t hear me calling him back to heel.
Finally, after many long moments, I did what I should have done earlier, put on my field voice, and said firmly, “Here!”
That got his attention. His head whipped around before he had a chance to think about it, and his body followed his head right back to my side.
We went back and started the serpentine again, which is allowed in Rally for a 3 point deduction. Much better than failing for performing the station improperly.
The rest of the run was uneventful.* Except that at the end I has to restart my breathing.
And we got the green ribbon for qualifying, along with a tug toy and a first aid kit from the Irish Water Spaniel Club of Puget Sound for competing and qualifying, respectively.
So I’m happy today. We’ll see if tomorrow brings delighted.
*Those of you who like to read Rally course maps will notice that station 14 isn’t correct. If we’d followed those directions, we’d end up facing away from the Finish sign instead of toward it. Fortunately, the steward noticed the problem before any exhibitors came into the ring and called it to the judge’s attention. The judge then changed station 14 to a Call Dog Front — Finish Left — Halt (exercise 16).