Mary & Bolo’s weekend of fun!

I spent this last weekend up in Dunn, NC competing in the South East Regional Championships. And while it didn’t quite go the way I envisioned it, it was a blast. The host club was great, the competitors fun, the crowd was wonderful and the weather… well, the week leading up to the trial was full of rain and the club trial field suffered from the deluge. Bolo and I didn’t make it to the podium but I came away with a lasting memory and the Sportsmanship trophy.

Below is the lengthy story as best as I remember it.  Photo’s are posted here:  http://www.clukey.phanfare.com/4602138

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Saturday, Day 1, Tracking

I drew track number one… apparently this is the track number that everyone wanted including the soon to be crowned Regional Champion, Joni… I however would have rather had a later track number, so I could ask competitors questions about the judges quirks… every judge seems to have them.

Tracking conditions: dormant coastal Bermuda (brown), about an inch tall in sandy soil. On one side of the road/driveway the field had puddles, the other side was dryer, and a field a little distance away was the better of the three tracking areas. We had at least two track layers.  Also, it was a bit breezy.

So, first out. The tracking flag was about 5 feet off of a paved driveway. The judge instructed all the competitors explicitly to walk down the road/driveway… stay off the grass. Usually I would like to lay my dog down “near” the track in the grass so that he can be familiar with the ground scent. I basically had to put the line under Bolo’s leg while at the edge of the pavement, to avoid doing any obedience within the “no obedience zone”. Bolo started out well, then began some casting with the wind. He “indicated” the first article by standing over it, not lying down as he has been taught. The article was in some standing water. I dropped my line and Bolo held his position over the article, while I picked it up and showed it to the judge. On command he picked up the track, then appeared to make the turn to the left for a short distance, he then came back and circled and picked up the original track and followed it to within one foot of the woods, where it turned left. The judge called the track off, as he was sure that the track layer would not have gotten us that close to the woods… when I went to pull Bolo off the track, he dug in pulled me harder down the track, at that point I could see foot prints. I told the judge that there is a track there. He said, lets see… and as the track layer walked his track to pick up the articles… sure enough Bolo was correct. So, we were granted a re-track.

As the morning went on, three dogs failed tracking. The three dogs that failed tracking had the same track layer. The wind also picked up as the morning went by.

From first to last dog to track. Honestly this track is a blur to me. It was a reverse “P” in shape. Bolo did a lot of casting and circling, never quitting though. He found and indicated all articles by correctly lying down. Turn three was the biggest problem for Bolo. The judge was patient, allowing Bolo to work through the track and he complimented me on my handling skills. Butch England said that I had “nerves of steel” on that track. We survived the day with a score of 79.

After the tracking phase, out of seven Schutzhund III dogs, only four were left in the running for the podium positions…. that was soon to change.

By the time we got back from tracking, the Schutzhund I & II obedience was under way. It was followed by the Schutzhund I & II protection.

….Some say this field was cursed… dogs were failing left and right in all phases. It was challenging for sure. The champions were tested and found worthy!

Sunday, Day 2, Obedience & Protection – (the slow motion train wreck for Bolo & I)

The Schutzhund I & II dogs were tracking in the morning and the Schutzhund III’s were schedule to start obedience at 10:30 am. The husband of one of the Schutzhund III competitors was a Schutzhund II competitor… and one vehicle meant that they could not be at the tracking field and at the trial field at the same time. As the tracking dragged out past 11 am, those at the trial field (myself included) grew anxious to get this show on the road. The decision was made to start (out of “draw night” order) with those competitors ready at the trial field. I was in the first set of dogs to go, paired up with Floyd Wilson and had to do the long down first. Bolo held the long down until Floyd’s #2 exercise, he sat up then laid back down… by exercise #4, Bolo had enough and broke the down… minus 10 points – ouch!

Heeling off leash was beautiful as we swished and sloshed our way through the field. The condition of the field was swampy. There was about an inch of standing in water in most places, unless it had been repeatedly walked on then it was mud. The judge was very accommodating and moved the “center line” for heeling to the highest driest place that could be found. He also gave the competitors the option of choosing their go out line (center of the field or the new heeling center line).

So, the trouble or as I recall it the “slow motion train wreck” begins…

Sit out of motion was a stand (Bolo was not going to get his bottom wet), minus 5 points… down out of motion was a stand, minus 5 points… stand out of motion was a stand with 6 steps, minus ??? points… retrieve on the flat was beautiful. I think we got full points for that. Retrieve over the jump… no jump, beautiful retrieve… more points gone… Retrieve over the a-frame… scaled the wall on the way out, but went around it on the way back… bye-bye more points. Now as I am preparing to set up for my go out, the judge comes over to console me and Bolo thinks its party time. Bolo jumps up and clocks me right in the nose. Yup, I get a bloody nose on the field before my routine is done. Everyone is so nice and brings me some ice and napkins out on the field. Within a few minutes the bleeding is stopped and the judge allows me to do a little obedience with Bolo to prep him for the go out. We set up for the go out and have a decent build up, Bolo goes out fast but not far enough before he stops and looks back. The judge signals me to down him. He does go down saving a few points to add to our dismal morning. We walk away with 59 points, a lasting memory and some wonderful comments. The judge was impressed with Bolo’s enthusiasm and speed in the retrieves; he was surprised that Bolo was a six year old dog. Many in the crowd complimented me on Bolo’s attentiveness and for my courage continuing after the nose incident.

So, then there were three left vying for the podium positions. And we weren’t one of them. But, we were still having fun.

The judge kept the morning line up for protection, so I was second up. Bolo and I had just a wee bit of trouble with the blinds on this field. And Bolo “searched” only three of them. His hold and bark was convincing. The call out was fast but not close (a carbon copy of the call out from his Schutzhund III trial last spring). I gave him too harsh of a down command for the escape and he downed, but immediately got back up and circled around me back into fuss position (it wasn’t pretty), I gave him a second but kinder down command and he complied. He stopped the escape. The routine begins to become a blur here in my memory. I do remember that every time that I approached he regripped the sleeve, but then immediately let go without command. He forged (though I didn’t think badly – I could feel him leaning on my leg) on the back transport. The distance was correct and he quickly stopped the attack. Heeling down field was not beautiful. He did not leave me but he was wide and thinking about going to the helper. On the courage test, he came fast and did not gather before launching into the long bite. The judge commented that all grips could have been calmer. He was unruly on the side transport… he went to the front of the helper and I had to pick him back up and start the side transport again. At the report out the judge instructed me to leash my dog and “do not let him regrip” before the judge instructed the helper move away from us. Slight control issues were surfacing. Our score was 82.

All I really wanted was to get on the road home (7 hours away waited a warm shower and my comfy bed), but there was the awards ceremony to watch and participate in. I was instructed to get my dog for the photos.  What a photo this would be, dogs and competitors covered with mud up to their knees. 

It was truly a test for the champions this weekend. There were five FH entries, only two made it to the podium. The FH Champion is Lord z. Lipin, handled by Richard Shook, with 96. Nine Schutzhund I teams entered, only two made it to the podium. The SchH1 Champion is Remo XXIII, handled by Nona Luth, with 96-75-94=265. Four Schutzhund II teams entered, only two made it to the podium. The SchH2 Champion is Ace Von Stone Haus, handled by Robbie Stringer, with 87-75-90=252. Seven Schutzhund III teams entered, only three made it to the podium. The Schutzhund III South East Regional Champion is Alin vom Meulenwald, handled by Joni Gynp, with 91-88-88=267.

The final trophy to be handed out was the Sportsmanship award. This award is giving to the competitor who though faced with adversity showed overall good sportsmanship… completing a routine after a near knockout and bloody nose qualifies as good sportsmanship. Who knew, all I had to do was bleed a little to get a beautify trophy for my mantel!?!?! I got a nice hug from the obedience judge and a round of applause from the crowd. I just hope that wasn’t my 15 minutes of fame. I really imagined something quite different for that 15 minute time slot.

Well, it was a challenging weekend, I learned a lot from it and even had a little fun!

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