The people who run the Bellingham trials have done a lot to improve their setup. We haven't been here in over a year because the site was so challenging for a reactive dog. I decided it was time to try it again and am glad I did. Most of the issues I'd noted before have been resolved. Kudos to them. The real remaining issues are dealing with novice exhibitors who don't understand the rules or trial etiquette. There will always be newbies, so its just a matter of educating them as it comes up. They hold a lot of trials up there, so it'll be nice to have them back on the list of possibilities.
Saturday - Trial 1
Gimme started off well and was running around enthusiastically hunting for rats. Then I saw her start to lift her leg against a pole and yelled "no". I know I stopped her in time and could have stayed in the ring, since the judge didn't know why I'd yelled "no". But I chose to end her run to send a clear training message - lifting a leg will lead to the end of barn hunt fun.
Gimme hasn't tried to pee in the ring in a verrrrry long time; she usually gets in a last tinkle while we are waiting in the blind. In part I think newbie behavior contributed to the issue. There were two instances of newbies walking their dogs along the fence (and one more who was stopped), passing through the blind. Gimme was interested in going to the fence and probably would have peed there, but I didn't let her because I couldn't really see the dogs coming through until it would be too late to avoid them. We had a long walk when we first got to the site and another walk on the way to the blind, so its not as if she hadn't had a chance to take care of business. There's no guarantee it would have made a difference, but it might have.
Saturday - Trial 2
I made sure to have a blanket placed in the blind, since Gimme does better when she has a matt. We were fourth in the blind, so I wanted her to have every comfort. She was happy to drag me in the ring. She was hunting eagerly and found two rats pretty quickly. Then she did the tunnel on her own and she normally doesn't want to tunnel until she's found all the rats. When she came out she was clearly still hunting and found rat number three. There was a bit of delay and she found number four. I took her on another tour around the ring, finding nothing. She seemed to be humoring me and had repeatedly run over to the side of the ring near where the rats are housed. So with considerable trepidation, I called it. This is her second master leg (the first one in September 2014). Gimme also got a second place. To say the least, I was very pleased to have her do so well.
Sunday - Trial 3
I placed a blanket near the blind again and it worked well for us. Our run was very similar in many ways. Gimme was quite speedy running around and finding rats. She did the tunnel twice on her own. Again, after she found the fourth rat, I got the impression Gimme was
humoring me and she was going over to the side of the ring near
where the rats are housed. So with some anxiety, I called
it. This is her third master leg. I was very happy to not have to wait 13 months for another leg. We were actually faster this time than the day before. Gimme got third place.
Sunday - Trial 4
In the afternoon I was happy to see we were going to be the first dog out of the blind. I planned to use the blanket again, however didn't have time to place it. I was asked to scribe for the Open class by my "lucky judge" (the judge we got our two Q's under). The master class had been going so slow, I thought there was all the time in the world. As it turned out, when I came out from scribing, they were running the last dog in the blind before ours, so I had to hustle to get Gimme. I didn't have time to get our blanket there, so instead I just threw down my big thick vest. Gimme will use whatever I put down and was quite comfortable on it.
Our run was not qualifying. Gimme took a long time finding the first rat and then just kept going over to the side of the ring near
where the rats are housed. I got her to search some more, but wasn't getting any interest from her and I thought we'd covered everything. So I got her to do the tunnel and planned to call it when she came out. The judge called time just as she was about to come out. Gimme dawdled in this very long tunnel, but it wouldn't have made a difference, since there was another rat. I think we got close to it, but not right on it.
I didn't think Gimme was as excited to be there as she had been for her other three runs, even though she dragged me to the ring. She did have to kiss my face, which she does when she is unsure of something, so perhaps she was uncomfortable. I see she isn't sitting square again, which usually means her hip needs adjusting (we'll be seeing Tonya on Wednesday). I also thought she could simply have been tired since this was our last run of the weekend. Its may be she could tell there weren't as many rats to find and so wasn't as excited about it. And its entirely possible the rat she didn't find was just in a spot where the scent wasn't readily available. I'll just have to watch as we have more runs in the future and see if any trends show up. After we see Tonya, then I'll know if discomfort was an issue.
Donna had some really cute stuffed squeaky rats left over from an event she did, so I bought two of them for Gimme. She doesn't know about them yet... ☺ Cross your fingers, we have another barn hunt trial next weekend.