|Sir Darby for Kindle|
How Perfect is Perfect?
by Linda White (Regina Duke's dog-showing alter ego)
Summertime is dog show season for those of us in the high desert. We spend the winter training indoors and taking classes. After Thanksgiving, we assume there will be no showing until Spring because we don't want to chance a snow storm in the Sierras on our way to a California dog show. Entries for dog shows close about three weeks before the show, so the weather can be, if you'll pardon the Reno expression, a crap shoot. As a result, we try to make every show in Northern Nevada during the summer.
With that attitude, I decided to work with Darby on the new AKC Rally Obedience signs.
He has been doing a great job with his tricks training, but there are no tricks competitions in our neck of the woods. And I really wanted an excuse to compete in the Reno Kennel Club show.
Darby, however, reminded me of the reason we started doing tricks instead. He could care less about Rally! By the time his message came through loud and clear, I had already paid the entry fees. Two turns in the Rally Excellent ring. Off leash. Yes, I am a brave woman.
Because Darby was the only dog showing, I let Buster and Gracie stay at home. The show was local, there were no hotel rooms involved, and I knew I would be sleeping in my own bed that night. So it was Darby and me all day long.
Our first turn in the ring came around 9:00 a.m. I used my squeaky toy voice. I cheered him on. I laughed when he stared at me like I was a mad woman. He was the cutest dog in the entire competition, and in the end, he earned his first leg in Rally Excellent with a score of 73 out of 100 possible points.
I rejoiced because he stayed with me in the ring. (Remember last year's battle over leaving the ring???)
Our second turn in the ring came at 1:30. Darby was tired. I was tired. We did not qualify. But I rejoiced again because he stayed with me in the ring.
Later, sitting around with my friends and waiting for other friends to compete (so we could cheer them on), I found myself saying, "He just refused to take that jump. He stared off into space and ignored me. There's so much to work on."
Sympathetic nods all around. Then one of my friends asked, "Where is he?"
"Right here beside me, in his little crate." I reached down and he kissed my fingers. And at that moment, I realized that I was expecting perfection for two minutes in the ring, and ignoring the fact that I already had perfection the other 1,438 minutes of the day!!!
At six a.m., Darby ran to his crate, ready to go anywhere I wanted to go. He waited patiently for his breakfast, because I didn't want him to get an upset stomach from stress. We got to the show grounds, and when I asked him to potty, he peed. When I asked him to doody, he had a BM. (I'll bet your dog doesn't poop on command!)
At seven a.m. we walked around the indoor rings so he could get used to the floor and see what was going on. When the room got crowded, he let me carry him so he wouldn't get stepped on. When big breeds got too close or too personal, he ignored them, except for one HUGE dog that made him very nervous. In that instance, he gave a warning growl, and I removed him from the situation.
He waited quietly in his crate for his turn in the ring. He visited perfectly with other people and dogs, reminding me that he is, after all, a Canine Good Citizen®. He was a bit overwhelmed by all the goings on. I could tell, because he was too nervous to eat. But after we finished our second competition, he visibly relaxed and had a lovely lunch of boiled chicken.
We were there from seven a.m. until 6 p.m. and then he slept in the car (in the shade) while a friend and I went out to dinner.
One thousand four hundred thirty-eight minutes of perfection, and all I could talk about was the only two minutes of his day when he was not at the top of his game.
Titles are only a way to let people know we have fun with our dogs. And Darby and I have wonderful fun together every day. Darby is the perfect dog.
(Also appears on the website http://www.lindalouwrites.com . Don't forget to visit http://www.reginaduke.com as well for new titles.)