My two-year-old Border Collie, “Bodie”, Infinity’s Limitless, loves to work, has a great attitude and always amazes me with his energy. The big goal I had for him was to win a High in Trial award from the Novice classes before we moved on to Open. But trial after trial he would come close, even with scores of 198.5 and 199 out of a possible 200, but never brought home the blue and gold rosette. This is a competitive sport where the novice handler competes against both professionals and amateurs for the ultimate prize.
On a whim I decided to enter the Orlando Dog Training Club trials on March 31st and April 1st. It meant a long six to seven hour drive from Pensacola, which I dreaded. As it turned out I almost turned around on Interstate 75. It was Easter weekend and spring break. The traffic crawled along between 20-50mph with “only” two accidents. It took forever to get to the La Quinta by Universal Studios. After checking in at the hotel I drove to the fairgrounds to set up my crates and make sure I knew how to get to the show site. The location for the trial is fantastic, lots of parking, big fields, five rings inside and air conditioning.
The first day, as I pulled up by the club’s building in the darkness before dawn, I was greeted by two adult cats and a litter of young kittens. Did they not know that there was a dog show going on? Obviously they were strays and sadly they were undernourished. By the time the rest of the exhibitors arrived the cats and kittens had hidden.
On Saturday Bodie earned a 196 at the first trial and a 197 the second trial in Novice B. My ring nerves were all over the place. It reminds me of a meme I saw on Facebook; inside my nerves were like a squirrel in traffic. So how could I expect Bodie to earn a HIT when I couldn’t relax?
But it was easy to show Razzie. She is my wild child. I never know if she will pull a clear round or make a last-minute decision to fake me out and refuse an exercise. But she was in full form on Saturday, filled with energy and even corrected herself after my bad dumbbell throw to the far right over the high jump. She won the class with a 196.5 for her second PCDX leg.
The next day the dogs and I were more relaxed. We knew the ropes and felt comfortable with the site and the judges. I made sure to take advantage of the practice ring before competing. In the morning Bodie earned a 197.5 but in Razzie’s Preferred Open class she ran up to the broad jump and at the first board declined to jump. Not a problem. She did great on the other exercises and we shall live to fight another day.
That left Bodie’s last class in Novice B before we could load up and go home. He and I were scheduled to go into the Graduate Novice ring at the same time as the Novice B ring. Of course. Naturally. Doesn’t that always happen? After fifteen trials of straight recalls (but a gazillion drop on recalls in practice) Bodie missed the DOR in GN. So off I ran to the Novice B ring, wondering if Bodie would do the drop on recall in Novice now when he had to only do a straight recall. But he and I danced together almost seamlessly in the Novice B ring. It was a joy to be by his side. He even managed to do the one minute stay and snoozed on the long down.
When the judge announced our score of 198.5 I was thrilled. We had won High in Trial. Finally. I started to cry. It has been a long haul, a big goal that seemed like it would never happen. I don’t win High in Trials every weekend. Each one of my dogs earn is very special.
But that means Bodie and I need new goals, more training, more traveling and more time together. A CDX? A UD? The Classic?
Razzie is easy to show. I know she will get her Open and Utility titles but she is not as anxious to please me. We work hard for every one of our ribbons and she DID win a HIT in Novice so I don’t lose faith in her. She is one of those dogs that responds well to cheerleading between exercises and toy rewards afterwards.
But Bodie is one of those dogs that is a gift from God. Bodie is like my first competition Golden Retriever, Trevor, in that he loves being with me and playing the game I ask him to share with me. Trevor was my once in a lifetime obedience competition dog and now here I am with another gold dog, a Border Collie, who is turning out to be once in a lifetime obedience dog too. I am blessed.
Many thanks to the Orlando Dog Training Club for a well run trial and to the excellent judges: Nancy Watson, Ron Roberts, Helen Smith and John Cox.