Thrill of victory, and the agony of the feet

We’re back from today’s Ann Arbor Kennel Club dog show near Monroe. It was a long day for everyone, Zora included, but we came away with a Beginner Novice obedience title, grabbing the third and final qualifying leg.

It wasn’t easy.

We left home around 5:30 AM to ensure getting a good parking spot and prime crate space in the show building. At least it had some measure of air conditioning, unlike our last venue in New Castle.

Even so, the brutal heat was a factor. Barely had the National Anthem been sung and the announcement made over the P.A. system to remind us to keep ourselves and our dogs cool and hydrated, when a Great Dane collapsed in the building, overcome by the weather. Fortunately he got plenty of help and revived, though it was rather scary.

My first run with Zora in obedience was a real puzzle. She just seemed out of sorts, lagging through the heeling and figure eight exercises, tail down. Then, to top it off, on the recall exercise she did not want to budge from her sit and come to Dad. Honestly! That never happens. Well, never until today. So, another first for us: an NQ. For those not into the show lingo, that means a Non-Qualifying score. Ouch!

We put Zora back in her crate to rest up for her rally appearance. But she still didn’t seem quite right. For a bit, we were concerned the temperature was getting to her. But Rita finally figured it out when she took her out. Zora did not want to bear weight on one of her hind legs, and Rita spied a drop or two of blood on the floor. Somehow, the bitch had torn a toenail, and it was really bothering her.

Rita did go ahead and take her in rally, and she placed fourth with 89 points under an insanely picky judge. All in all, we felt pretty good about that.

That’s not the end of the story, though. The club held both morning and afternoon trials today, and we had Zora entered in both obedience and rally for both trials. So, Rita spent the lunch break getting a little styptic powder from a vendor, applying it to Zora’s tender toe (news flash: dogs do NOT like that!), toweling her down to cool her off, and basically helping her to chill in more ways than one.

We decided to forgo the second rally event. There was nothing at stake, after all, except another ribbon or two. And we wanted Zora to have enough gas in the tank for the obedience exercises; this time around, the events were in different rings, and Zora would have been due in rally just a few minutes before obedience.

Back in the obedience ring, now. Good start, she’s not lagging much on the heeling exercise. Still didn’t want to sit at the end. (It’s upsetting why she does it so well when practicing, but not so much in the ring when it counts.) The figure eight wasn’t her best, as she did lag a bit, but at least she sat when she needed to. S-l-o-w-l-y, but she did. No issues on the sit for exam or the sit stay. Now, for a drum roll. The recall.

“Zora, come!” Not a muscle moves. I re-establish eye contact.

“Zora, come!!!!!”

Ever so gingerly, she decides to make our day. After what seemed like an hour, though it wasn’t more than ten seconds, Zora ended up in front of me, with an expression on her face like, “Are we done yet???”

Indeed we were. 188.5 points out of 200, second place in the class, and our first obedience title – all rode on that recall. Even the stifling 102-degree heat that hit us as we exited the show building did not deter us. And by the time we got back home, after a nap in the crate on the way, Zora was back to normal, terrorizing Jinx like nothing had gone on earlier in the day. But we knew better.

At some point, when we get Zora working more reliably off leash, it will be time to reach for that Novice title, the Companion Dog (CD) credential. But for now, we celebrate the Beginner Novice title, even if, as a Facebook friend suggested, the name is a bit redundant.

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