Just as we were entering the ring, the commotion of the obedience trial flushed the pigeons, and they took wing, each moving to another place (still within the arena). Ronin is a Cocker Spaniel. This is a bird dog whose main breeding trait is to hunt and flush gamebirds. ... I gained his attention quickly and moved into place for the first exercise, Scent Discrimination. In this exercise an article I've touched is placed in a group of similar objects about 20-25 feet away and Ronin's job is to find the article I've touched and return it to me. Not today.
We turned and I instructed "Find Mine!" and Ronin took off. He immediately went into hunt mode, nose to ground, moving out and away from me, covering back and forth, interrupted only by a coursing gaze around for sight of a bird. Past the pile of articles (Hmm, I'll get back to those after I finish business). He was not doing the exercise. The judge indicated I should give it up, so I gave a second command, then a third command. We had NQd (Non-Qualifying). He was still hunting. The judge smiled and attempted to lure him to the pile. She pointed at the article with a pencil. I gave a fourth (or fifth?) command and he looked impatiently at me and grabbed an article at random (not the correct article) and brought it. I took it and we finished. I grinned an the judge and said, "Bird dog, you know".
The second article: He picked up an article near the correct one, then dropped it atop the correct one. Could not pick up the correct one with other article atop it. So he rotated 90 degrees and picked up both articles and brought them. By this time I'm trying not to crack up.
The rest of the exercises went well, well within qualifying precision. But we had flunked Utility B.
Remembering last week, I had taken him out several times before the Open B class started, to let him poop as much as he desired. This involves some time because with 1800 other dogs and may people about, there is too much to attend to other than "business".
Into Open B, Ronin was his steady self, with better fronts and finishes than ever before (in my opinion). Then. Long Sits. Sit. About the first command a doggie learns is Sit. He knows Sit. Except today. At one minute, thirty seconds (according to judge) Ronin decides to go Down so as to better keep an eye on the pigeons. NQ. And he gets three other dogs to follow suit ("The Cocker was first, it is HIS fault"). So we do the Long Down Stay and when I returned to the ring, he was still down, still intently following the movements of pigeons. I think I startled him when I gave the command to release him from the stay, he hadn't noticed the eight of us returning to the ring.
What fun. It was a good day, in all. He is still green. We came home and after a brief rest, we went in the backyard and practiced. Of course, in practice he is perfect.
We were doing Signal Exercise where I was across the yard giving hand signals for down, up, and come. I saw Beanie, the old girl, on the patio watching. She's a retired UDX dog and is content to watch usually. I gave the Down signal. Both Ronin and also Beanie another 20 feet away settled down. I gave the Sit signal and they both simultaneously sat, keeping their eyes fixed on me. At the Come signal, they both came running, jostling to get into Front position. I'm cracking up. I give the signal to Go Around and they simultaneously moved to heel, Beanie on the inside and Ronin parallel on the outside. Time to enter them in tandem obedience.
Whew. Next show is real soon in Colorado Springs. We need to work with distractions. Gotta proof his exercises. Ronin needs me to be better for him.