Warning - long post, probably boring if you're not a Rally enthusiast.
Yesterday was definitely one of those days that Penni mentioned in her comments on the prior post - you just smile, shake your head and go forward. That is exactly what I did when the judge handed me the third place ribbon. It felt really "wrong" to take it after such a poor showing.
Our story: The real trouble started when Denali, second dog of the day to show, found the microscopic particles of food lurking between the ribs in the rubber floor matting. She stopped dead in her tracks (a first-time ever). For what seemed like 5 minutes, but was probably about 20 seconds, I could NOT get her attention. Whatever was on that floor was some sort of very "high value" treat. (I assume these mats are used for training when they're not used in a show.) She started licking and I thought she was going to suck the mat right off the floor. Clearly, this was more than just the average crumbs that you always expect. That all happened approaching station #5 - early in the game.
When I finally did get her back, she was obviously distracted and I was worried that we'd have a repeat performance. So worried that I completely lost my focus. Subsequently, Denali did everything I asked her to do - no more issues. That would have been great, except for the fact that what I told her to do was NOT what was on the sign in a couple of cases.
The judge had arrived late, so course maps weren't distributed till 10 minutes before show time. I had to decide: Study course map, or warm up my dog. I opted for the warm up. Consequently I had no time to really study the course map - only two quick circuits of the course during the walk-through (which started earlier than scheduled, while I was outside warming up my dog).
The good news was that I realized my instruction errors as I was making them, so I opted to repeat the exercises and take the three point loss, versus the IP. That was what saved us from an NQ, but our performance was simply nuts! In all, with the screeching halt and delay for the food, we had to repeat three of the stations and I knew that a couple others were much more sloppily-executed than our norm.
Afterward, I did get a sanity check upon seeing that almost every dog to show after us had the same significant sniffing issues in that same area. Two of the Advanced dogs were so distracted by it that they couldn't regain focus and had to be excused. So it wasn't just us...whew!
The Honor exercise was interesting too. We walked over to the sign, waiting for the next dog, except it was not present. Amidst much hand waving and running about by the judge and stewards, it finally showed up - about 5 minutes later. Meanwhile, I kept walking my already-distracted dog in circles, talking to her to remind her that we were still in the ring. Luckily, the exercise was a "down," which was great because 'Nali was so tired after her early morning rise, that she actually put her head down during this. (Another "never before" for this generally overly-perky girl.)
I was relieved to finally leave the ring. But I was genuinely shocked to see that we had actually still qualified with our 79 (all-time-low) score. And due to the low entry, it gave us third place. Seriously, I just had to laugh!
On the way out, we did stop for a "consolation prize." I saw these pretty braided leather leashes in all colors. They're nice soft leather and I have not seen this vendor at other shows...so we picked out a dusty lavender/pale mustard leash. (Will make our Honor exercises look good - especially if we have to spend extra time in the ring again.
Moving forward, we are not scheduled for the rest of the Vallejo shows this weekend. After seeing how tired Denali was after the 5:00AM wake-up yesterday, I am really glad we didn't try to do it again today.
We get a break and try again on Sunday - show time 10:30AM...yes! There were two big shows in our area on the same weekend. Sunday is a back-to-back event, so one long drive, versus two in Vallejo. Hoping for the RE Title leg in the morning and have an insurance leg in the PM if things go crazy again! Best case, a first RAE leg in the afternoon!