Haku's Utility title was somewhat anticlimactic as I thought we NQ'd on the second exercise. Always learning new things in obedience, and today's lesson was that the judge doesn't have to choose two matching number articles to use. I certainly thought that was the rule, or, at least, the unwritten rule. There are a lot of rules in obedience. But, yeah, first article was a 5, so when Haku brought me back a 6 for the second one I was like, "Oh well." And I was pretty goofy after that, including petting my dog before the 'exercise finished' on one exercise and all sorts of points that, uh, we didn't need to lose. And when the judge said, "Congratulations" after the run, I was a bit puzzled, but she didn't say, "You have qualified," as, once again, they always had in the past.
Anyway, it continued awkward as for the awards the judge said, "Qualifiers, return to the ring", but didn't say the armband numbers, as, once again, I'm used to them doing. And people are beckoning me, and I'm like, "We did the wrong article!" So I sort of just ghosted in, ready to leave when the judge realized my mistake. But we ended up taking 2nd, and then was more confusion as I was supposed to go take my ribbon and stand somewhere else, but never seemed to be where the judge wanted me to be. Oh, so many rules in obedience, and I think it takes about 40 years to learn them all. So our big Utility celebration was sort of a, "What? Huh? What's going on? Stand where? Are you sure? We qualified? Really?"
So, yes, we actually got our UD! Well, our P-UD, or possibly PUD. I like PUD. It has been a LONG road to get here, and I am so super proud of my Haku. It's an accomplishment that very well may never happen again with one of my dogs, though I'd LIKE to think I would have an easier time training to get to this point with another dog. Doesn't usually work like that though, Haku has had his own challenges, and any other dog will have completely different issues. It's always like starting over, I suppose.
I have had the great advantage that my dog chose the sport, and I obliged. When we went to go see Ellie for a lesson 4 years ago, I really didn't think Haku would have any interest in obedience as he's such a nut. He proved me wrong - that boy LOVES his obedience. And that is not something that is easy to train in a dog. I think just about every dog can learn to love agility, but not obedience, and definitely not showing in obedience.
I'm well aware that Haku's unique brand of endless enthusiasm is a huge advantage, especially dealing with competition stress. Obedience trials are very difficult environments, and being able to work with very little feedback for long periods of time is exceptionally challenging for some dogs. It's really the challenge of obedience, and Haku is well suited for handling that. Of course, that endless enthusiasm has it's drawbacks as well, but I realize how lucky I am to have a dog that enjoys obedience, is perfectly willing to work for no reward for long periods of time, and has such focus and attention even in difficult environments. I can't really take credit for those behaviors, as he was pretty much born that way.
Haku's Utility title is probably the highest obedience title we'll ever achieve. We will play around with attempting some UDX legs. Realistically considering how often I trial, and that we are not, uh, super consistent, I can't see him getting those 10 obedience 'double Qs' with Open and Utility. But I DO think we can get to be more consistent and solid as a team in competition. And that is our goal now, see what kind of scores we can get. 200s aren't going to happen, but I KNOW we can do better than we've done in competition so far.
The adventure continues, Haku NEEDS to have a job. I'm still hoping to do more herding with him, but it's just not something we currently have access to throughout the week - and Haku needs that outlet. He's going to be 8 this summer, and, knock on wood, if the jumping holds up we could have years more playing in obedience.
Haku's reward for his big title is he got to go watch agility, and he was very happy. While Haku is perfectly happy to leave agility behind, he still LOVES to watch. Love that dog, he's just something special.
On the agility side of things, Navarre did some great stuff, ALMOST doing courses, with some running around things. No complaints, really happy with where he is, his focus was so much better than the last trial, he's trying really hard and having a great time. He is the bestest baby dog! Got a video today, standard ... minus the tire again:
And some random pictures from the crazy world of conformation, as it was much warmer in that building. ;-)