I should have called off going to Albuquerque the next weekend. Several friends suggested I do that until Ronin and I got back into the "groove". But Albuquerque was a big 5 day dog show with 4 days of obedience trials. I'd paid the entries and made plans to go with friends and visit with my sister. In other words, I really wanted to go. I thought I could turn it around and overcome our problems. Wow. We only got worse. And the bad thing is that Ronin had 4 more trials of poor performance in the ring. That can tend to reinforce itself for a long time. Ouch. I finally pulled him from Open B on the last day after a really disastrous Utility B run. We went to the dog park and relaxed for several hours, then had dinner with my sister and friends. I decided then to pull Ronin from the next few shows, hoping to work with him on some fundamentals and try to regain control of myself.
I couldn't withdraw from Central Wyoming (Casper, Wyoming) dog show because entry deadline had passed. So on Friday and Saturday, May 28-29, Ronin is the only dog in Utility B there, and one of three dogs in Open B (the only UDX dog). I'm tempted to go because (maybe) we won't be nervous and (maybe) we can squeak through with a qualifying score or two (or even a UDX leg, or two). But should I chance it? I dunno, I need to think this through.
The other two upcoming shows are Flatirons (Longmont) and Colorado Springs, both in Colorado. I've withdrawn Ronin from Utility and Open B obedience, but I could enter him in Rally.
We've done OK in Rally, Ronin has is Rally Advanced Title and one leg of Rally Excellent. Rally is different from obedience, although some of the same elements are there. It was originally conceived as a step before going into obedience. But really, it is a different sport, and to do well the dog and handler must do 17 to 25 different exercises in a tight course, all timed. Properly done, this is a challenge and no mean feat. One advantage is that the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed. The handler can talk to the dog and encourage it through the course. If an exercise is failed, the rules allow for a "do over" with only points off. All the exercises must be done properly, however, and tied scores are settled on the basis of the shortest time. In all, it is an excellent way to build communication between dog and handler, and to build confidence in the team. It is also a lot of fun when things go well. It is also a really good way to get a dog prepared for the obedience ring.
So, I have until Wednesday to decide if I should enter Ronin in Rally for two more shows. And until next Thursday to decide if I should make the attempt to try obedience in Central Wyoming....
In the meantime, the weather has been excellent. We need to do some work in the back yard and the parks on some basic obedience stuff. Bring on the Cones! (Rally exercises are often done around tiny orange traffic cones).