Monday, December 20, 2010

We survived the Crown Classic Dog Shows at the IX Center!

So, we survived the Crown Classic Dog Shows at the IX Center! That may not sound very impressive but, I think that, especially for the dogs, it really is! The IX Center (International Exposition Center) is a very large, open, noisy, energy-filled, smelly (at least during the dog show), overwhelming kind of place! The Crown Classic consists of four days of shows sponsored by four different kennel clubs to make up one of the biggest dog shows in the country. Because it is at the end of the year, all of the most competitive conformation dogs come in search of "dog of the year" awards in each breed. There is a huge agility trial consisting of more entries that that in conformation. And there are four rings dedicated to rally and obedience. Laurel got her last two legs in Novice at the IX Center several years ago and went another year as my service dog. 
This year, Laurel and I were trying Advanced Rally for the first time and Hardy was attending as my service dog in training. 
We had to crate quite a distance from our ring and there was a huge black box fan (maybe 20 feet wide from the floor to the ceiling) right next to our crates that shook the floor and was very noisy. There was also one next to our ring. We had to walk past all types of competitors, spectators and through the vendors area to get back and forth. On Thursday, Laurel appeared to be very "energetic", which I knew was stress and we got a generous 93/100. I hoped that having been in the ring once, Laurel would feel more confident on Friday. Unfortunately, she didn't and the stress was very obvious - she was sniffing and disconnected; basically coming back to me to do the exercises. I don't think we should have Q'd but we did with a 79. I was very sad and frustrated because no one was getting to see what a great dog Laurel is and I wasn't sure what to do to help with her stress-level. 
After thinking about it and talking to Sue Alexander, I decided to change up our pre-competition routine. Instead of doing a warm up, I would bring her out close to our time and put her in a down stay. That would be it - we do a down stay prior to training so I hoped it would let her know we were going to work and that it would also help relax her. Saturday morning, a friend of mine, Pam, who was there doing canine massages, offered to do reiki with Laurel. She did some about 30 minutes before I expected to compete and then I took Laurel out with 3 dogs before us. We did a down stay next to the ring and then went right in. Whether it was the Reiki or the down stay; Laurel was still not completely her normal self but she was much closer to it and I was thrilled as we left the ring! As it turned out, we got a 98/100, tied for first place. With my power chair, we never win ties based on time because although we move right along on the course, it takes me longer to get around her and Laurel longer to get around me. The judge announced that the first place team had won by 5 seconds so when she called the number, "107", I sat there. It took me a couple seconds to realize that was our number. So we finished Laurel's Advanced title Saturday with a first place in the class, and got our photo taken by the show photographer. 
Hardy didn't seemed bothered by anything. He spent time in his crate and also went to man the Canine Affair booth with me for awhile, watched agility and went shopping. We visited with his breeder, who still seems to think he's a very handsome boy. 
We stayed home yesterday - Brent and I were tired so we rested and prepared for our trip to NYC for Christmas.

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