This post is all dogs all the time; only read if that interests.
So I went and entered Coba in a show, and somehow that date which seemed so comfortingly far off is now the day after tomorrow, because said show is this weekend
. I am nervous and not attached to any kind of success, but I do feel more comfortable about the whole thing than I have been in the past. We're just back from a practice meet, which was useful.
Coba didn't do terribly well in the last obedience trial a couple of weekends ago, but we will get another chance, since we're entered in obedience and conformation for both days. I think we're ready, or at least at one of those stages in newbie-hood where the only thing for it is to just get out there and do the thing, screw up and learn.
Coba seems to be understanding what conformation showing is and what's desired of him, so he's relaxing, which is the important thing. I have a lot of anxiety about going back into a conf ring (we won't discuss my first experience with it), but now, with the understanding that we are not going to win, I'm actually starting to look forward to it. (I'm doing this because I thought it looked really FUN, right?) Obedience...well, I know he can do everything that's wanted and quite well, but this is a weird time for Coba. Well into his third year, he's becoming more emotionally adult; he's also been through a lot of major changes in the past couple of months with the loss of Jez and a new pup. This is translating in part to his being more confident, but not reliably so, and "rethinking" and testing some of his training. He is going to be a bit of a wild card in the ring this weekend---he could be perfect of abysmal. I'll try to calm down and support him by not telegraphing my nerves down his leash.
So here are my notes from tonight, written here because writing things down often helps me internalize them.
---Remember to hold left elbow close to hip, touching body; hand down with a relaxed appearance. Don't hold arm way out to the side.
---Bait while he's on the table, but not while gaiting him; the aim is that he looks ahead as he moves, and not up at me. He will naturally want to do this, since there's a dog in front of him, so I shouldn't distract him with food at that point.
---Ideally, the handler isn't looking at the dog during gaiting, to avoid distracting the dog when you want him looking forward. Look at him enough to know that he's moving the right way.
---The leash needs to be held "accordion style" in my left palm, looped around the upward-held thumb, tight enough that connection is maintained with the dog and so that his collar doesn't slip. If it does slip so that the leash interferes with his profile on the judge's side, fix it before bringing him out! I am really glad that I got a good lead; I didn't fully appreciate how much of a difference it made until I had one, and replacing his show chain with a leather collar might help the slippage issue. I'm understanding now why a loop lead
might be a good idea, and may consider going that route when it's time to get a lead for Derzhava.
---REMEMBER TO BREATHE IN THE RING. RELAX. It is unforgivably silly to be more nervous in front of a dog judge than I have been the last few times I appeared in front of an actual, legal judge. It just is.
But enough of all that. You want puppy pictures.( Also, there's this incredibly cute Borzoi puppy. Some canine and avian, too. )