I have loved and been involved with dogs my entire life. They are love on four legs, and a mystery that is impossible to unravel. My house unicorns, sharing space and life with me while maintaining this mysterious and fascinating world that is for them, and them alone.
“Bubba/Jake,” is my plural-named current house unicorn. Although he is an intact male, using the unicorn analogy, I fancy him a gelding. He doesn’t have the flare and fire of a stallion, though he is pleasantly driven, and quite willing.
Together we dabbled in sheep herding, agility, clicker training, and rally. He is quick to learn, and enjoys the process, for some inexplicable reason. He likes praise, he likes food, he likes to tug, but I still haven’t found anything he is truly passionate about aside from the hose in the summer time.
A hose makes for an inconvenient and downright impossible to transport training reward.
Nonetheless, he is happy to train, and spend his time with me, his well-trained, albeit somewhat stubborn slave.
This all leads us to yesterday.
For weeks, the trainers at kennel club that we attend for weekly Rally lessons have been telling me that Bubba is ready to get out there and get some matches under his belt. We are training Rally Excellent, with no difficulties on any of the signs, and I have been bound and determined to keep it to training, and training alone. This becomes difficult when the kennel club you attend is hosting a match show minutes from your home, after they tricked you into reveling your free on the day of the match.
So, for the very first time, I decided to give my dog a chance to actually work in an environment where we would be judged.
What a powerful and transforming event.
I had mentally created an army of monsters that just weren’t there.
The Match Show was wonderful! Everyone was very friendly, we knew plenty of the other people entered, and it was so rewarding to be able to let my beast get out there and display the skills he had learned. He did excellent (as did everyone there!), and I was so very proud of him. I knew he would pee in the ring, he didn’t. I knew he would ignore me, he didn’t. I knew I would forget the signs or go off course, I didn’t. None of the imagined terrible things happened. We just went out there and spent the day having fun with other dogs, and dog lovers. Not just dog lovers, dog people.
The kennel club allowed a 2nd run at a discount, so much to my surprise, I found myself taking advantage of the opportunity. The second time was transforming. I was feeling more comfortable, and I went out like it was a normal training session. Jake responded brilliantly, and he did even better the second time around. When we finished the second run, one of the trainers told me he was ready to start competing. I was so proud of him. And me. It took a long time to get to a place where I felt confident enough to even consider doing something like this. I must say, it was worth the wait.
One of the most personal, and special things about the show, for me, was that it was held at Sunnybank. I grew up reading the books by Terhune, and there is something magical about entering my first dog show at “The Place.”