The last thing I want to record about our trip to Albury is about JB and H's successes in the ring.
JB and Enya were entered in Novice Rally and Open Obedience on both days. JB scored 3rd place in her first ever Rally trial, without even knowing all the rules! (Must remember for next time, points will be deducted for the dog or handler touching equipment.) In Open, Enya decided to show off her belly, rolling on the ground for a good back scratch, at exactly the wrong moment, but JB, who has the patience of a saint, just laughed at her, and kept going.
Open is quite gorgeous to watch, as it includes distance control and jumps. Both of these require a tremendous connection between dog and handler. Dogs with beautiful, responsive heel work, sometimes decide to go over the jump and keep going. The best dogs grab the retrieval dumbbell and return with a graceful moment of flight over the jump, sitting promptly at their handler's feet. Or wait a long distance from their owner, start to return and then sit or drop on command, still some distance from their handler. That's really hard.
H was in the crazy position of trialling three different dogs at two different levels. Sophie and Flash were both competing in CCD, which is heel work, stand for exam and recall. Milo was competing in Novice, which adds retrieval to the requirements. H ran around like a mad thing, getting dogs toileted, warmed up, in the right ring at the right time, wearing the right entry number and performing the correct moves. At one point, she had a minor brain failure, looking really confused when the judge asked if she was ready for the recall - her mind immediately jumped to retrieval instead! Wrong class!
On Saturday night, all three dogs NQ'd or failed to achieve a pass. H stayed calm and got back out there on Sunday morning, and achieved great results with both boys.
Flash achieved his third pass (with a great score) in CCD, which gives him his CCD title and puts him up to Novice level at his next trial.
Milo also got a pass on Sunday and a great score (I think it was 2nd place).
I also want to mention how brilliant both of these judges were - despite both seeing literally hundreds of dogs perform in various levels over the weekend, they both took time out to answer questions, offer advice and even helped H workshop her turns between trials. For H, who lives a 2 hour drive from her nearest dog club and a 4 hour drive from the club she belongs to, this sort of feedback and assistance is really valuable and we were all so appreciative of the judges' time.
The last highlight of the weekend was the curious case of the Springer Spaniels. Early on in the weekend, someone looked at Sophie and said, "oh, that's a Sandicam Springer!" It turned out that one of the Albury ladies owns both Sophie's uncle, Oscar, and mum, Mia. The family resemblance was undeniable, and the coincidence remarkable! Sophie might not have passed her first trial, but it's one we will never forget!