Saturday, May 9, 2009

Page's first trial and kudos for Devon

Because Page's birthday is two days before Devon's, she is having some "hand-me-down" experiences. I can already see many of Page's firsts will really be repeats of what Devon did three years before. I'm sure as the girls get older, Page will chart her own path. But in our first 16 weeks, Page is taking the road first traveled by her big sister. 

This weekend is the White River Golden Retriever Club's Specialty. I'm the Rally Chairman for the Specialty, so last night I set up two crates in the obedience/rally building for the girls. I really didn't expect Ms. Page to last very long in the building. You know these Game Birds have a reputation for expressing themselves, and LOUDLY! 

Our morning started out in the usual way with a training session before breakfast. Page is learning some new things, like sitting up (beg/sit pretty) and spinning. She's also working on sitting at my left side and touching a target. Devon's training session included Excellent Rally exercises ... that's foreshadowing of things to come! Much to my surprise, she knew how to do the Halt, come front, finish signs. I wonder when she learned that? And with only two tries I taught her a rough moving stand, which was enough for me to do a walk around.

Upon arriving at the fairgrounds, the girls took a quick tour of the Indiana Collie Club Agility trial to say good morning to friends before we headed to the building. Page was elected "marketing specialist" for Rachel's tug toy business, and she headed out with a puppy tug in her mouth. Devon of course had to "help" with the puppy tug and the marketing.

In the obedience/rally building, I included Page's towel, bone and "Raspberry dog" toy in her crate. Page settled in and watched the activity around her. Pretty soon, she snuggled up with "Raspberry dog" and fell asleep. You can see a photo of the girls in their crates at the trial at the top of this entry (Page was asleep until I got the camera out).

Just like in their puppy pen, Page loves to have an extra large stuffed toy in her crate to sleep on. She has "Raspberry dog," a large children's toy made of chenille with Raspberry colored ears and feet in her traveling crate. This toy helped her make the journey to Indiana. And in her crate in the bedroom she has a bright green alien toy.

I was so impressed with Page! At 11 weeks, she was content in her crate in the obedience building from 10:45 a.m. to after 4 p.m. Devon came out to work at least three times, and Page never made a sound - even when Devon was in the ring! This is much better than when we're working in our own training building!

Devon was not entered in today's trial. However, it crossed my mind earlier this week that we only had one Excellent Rally entry. Someone would need to honor and run the course for that dog. I put it out of my mind until last night, when I got to thinking of the folks who would be around the trial and helping. Unfortunately there was only one other person who had worked their dog at the Excellent level. After we talked this morning, we decided even though Devon had never done an Advanced or Excellent class, she'd probably be the better dog to run.

I told the judge I had a dog to run, and she was fine with that. I didn't mention that the dog only had an RN and had never been off leash in the competition ring before - details! I knew my dog and trusted her. I was able to warm up with all the signs we'd be using, and Devon did very well. I also took high value treats (steak) for the pre-ring warm up. Sure enough, she was blowing spit bubbles and prancing like a reindeer! Devon was ready!

I am so proud of Devon. She handled the ring experience very well. She has never done a sit/stay on leash, but she made it most of the way through the honor sit before going down just seconds before the working dog finished. Out of the ring, I grabbed 3 pieces of steak and used them on the way to the start gate. We were in the ring, leash off and the judge asking us if we were ready before I even had time to think about being nervous. 

Devon just nailed this rally course. Did I mention that she'd never been off leash in the rally ring or jumped in rally? She was complete control after the second jump into beautiful prancing heeling. The last sign was the moving stand, walk around your dog. I taught her this sign this morning. She walked one step forward before stopping, but she held her ground for the complete exercise. 

I asked the judge later if she scored me. She laughed and said she had a clipboard but didn't have any paper on it. She knew because she "went to the board" on me and marked on her clipboard. She then paused and said she went to her board three times. Since I didn't have any handler errors or repeated signs, that would have been 3 points off total. With the failed honor station, Devon would have had an 87 and won the class. Did I mention I was really proud of her?

Page had several "out" times to work, too! She went through her "tricks" of sitting, moving into heel position and sitting, standing, spinning and hand touching. I was even able to get her to touch the target. Page also remembered that she must sit until released in a crate, even when her leash is being put on. Page did a better job than most of the dogs at this, and many nearby exhibitors noticed (thank you Crate Games)!

Page's favorite "out" time was a rough and tumble play session with Luna, the Pequeno Portuguese Podengo. Luna is 10 months old, and she was great fun for Page to play with! If you ever get the chance to meet a Podengo, they are really fun! Luna is full of life! She and Page had a grand game of bitey face, puppy wrestling and chase! 

But the BEST game was when Page grabbed Luna's leash and started tugging on her! Luna had no idea how to get out of that, and since Page was bigger and the floors slick, Luna couldn't do a thing about it! Page knew she'd won this battle of puppy wills. Susan, Luna's mom, even wondered if Page could come home with them to keep tabs on Luna. Hummmm, I'm not sure if Susan knew what she was asking for, and I could tell she thought better of that suggestion later! 

Page got to watch the final runs of the Indiana Collie Club agility trial and meet a really nice Portuguese Water Dog named Whoopsie. I really like Whoopsie, and she sent a litter of puppies home a couple of weeks before Page came home. Whoopsie was all too ready to tell Page you don't nip Portie noses! What a good momma dog!

After the agility trial, Page got to get up on Dr. Bonnie's treatment table. Dr. Bonnie is great fun, and has really yummy salmon treats! However, Dr. Bonnie's no push over! Talk about maintaining criteria! Page could tell Dr. Bonnie wasn't a novice. She really made Page push to earn her rewards for "touch." And Dr. Bonnie got Page to do a fold back down ... that little trick is worth a tracking outing or two with Skye!

After Dr. Bonnie pronounced Page a "really nice puppy," we had one more training session to tackle: HORSES! We have a busy fairgrounds on the Saturday before Mother's Day. There is a Golden Retriever Specialty, an all-breed agility trial, a goat show and a horse show! I didn't get Page over to see the goats, but there was several horses still around, so we took yummy treats and headed their way. 

Page was interested in the horses and gave them long looks, especially with they turned and eyed her. But every time she stopped and looked at them, she got a yummy treat. Hey, when mom is offering treats, the world is a great place! 

Finally, after one more lap with Luna and Sheltie Beep, we headed home. You would think that Page has slept all evening. Well, you'd be wrong! After some cat naps on the way home, a quick stop at my parents and a romp with Reece, Page has been going full steam since 6 p.m. and it's now 9 p.m. She's been pulling on the daybed quilts, chewing on my chair and wrestling with Connor; she's wandering around trying not to fall asleep! I think she'll sleep well tonight!

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