Jeb's first years with me we just did basic obedience necessary for a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificate and mantrailing (a type of canine search and rescue, typically done by bloodhounds). We traveled around the US and attended well over 30 seminars in trailing, cadaver, and some obedience. I met people that didn't set limits on Jeb because of his breed. This was the beginning of my journey as a professional trainer.
That same year we earned our CDX. The CDX is the Companion Dog Excellent title given by the American Kennel Club when a dog and handler pass a test three times earning minimum scores of 170 out of 200 points. This test is called the Open class. The dog is taken off leash as soon as he enters the ring. There is a heel off leash and heel in a figure eight exercise. The dog must retrieve a dumbbell thrown by the handler across the ring on the ground and over a jump. And the dog must go over a broad jump. The sit and down stay exercises are much harder since the handlers must leave the ring and go out of sight.
After a break while we focused on canine search and rescue work, we returned to obedience competition two years later to earn a title in the advanced class called Utility. In April 2006 we earned our UD (Utility Dog) title. In the Utility class the dog has to execute some very difficult exercises. The running joke of obedience competitors is to call it the "Futility class". Jeb had to complete an off leash heeling (NOI) . A good friend tells me I trained an hour just about every day. I was working hard because by then I believe I realized we could finish the OTCH. Hard to believe when I never thought I'd care about precision nor did I think I had the dog to do it. BUT....I learned that it takes hard work and good solid training -- not necessarily some "perfect" dog. It's work....and yes money to travel and enter shows. The more I pushed Jeb, the more we learned and accomplished together and the more fun we had. I had to constantly balance the "have to" and "fun to" of obedience. With Jeb there were a lot of times it was more about the "have to."
On to day 2 of the NOI. I remember hoping to at least maybe win one round. The 2nd day works much like the NCAA Basketball tournament. There are 32 dogs and you are in brackets based on your rank. If I remember correctly, my first round I was up against the dog ranked #15. A sheltie? We won that first round and I was thrilled! I didn't care what happened from there. :) On to round two - another sheltie, this one ranked #3. Jeb was so tired. He lost 12-15 points on no sits. However, the sheltie NQ'd an exercise and lost 20-30 points. We managed to win the 2nd round! I couldn't believe it. (I didn't see the sheltie perform, so I was surprised).
Jeb performed beautifully! He did all his sits; he was just wonderful! I was so proud! The applause was HUGE and it was so heartwarming. It was also adorable when Jeb realized all those people were watching -- he looked over and tilted his head at the crowd. It was a great moment. When we came back in with the other team to find out who won, I gave no thought that it would be us. When they went to shake our hands the crowd went CRAZY!!!!! I was STUNNED! We had just made the final four which meant we would be on the podium. I was honestly so stunned I didn't feel much at all. I was done, too. I went in two more times to find out if we'd run off for 3rd/4th or for 1st/2nd. I was done. I just went through the
motions. I was exhausted and happy to be where I was. I lost to Bridget Carlson. I sent Jeb over the wrong jump, but I didn't care. I was oblivious and floating around in a stupor. So I would run off for 3rd/4th. In hindsight, I wish I'd tried, but I was so floored. Jeb did a no sit on a pivot so we were 4th.
I was so proud of that dog. He was so exhausted, but he did everything I asked of him. The one round where I really focused and raised the bar, he rose to the occasion. What a wonderful boy. The rest of the day I was literally numb. It was the greatest thing ever and thanks to hard training and some luck -- we have our medal and crystal eagle for our third runner-up NOI finish. A true Cinderella story if you ask me.
OTCH UUD Smokin' Bullet Jebediah Blue UDX3 VER Bh (NAPWDA Cadaver/SAR Area/Obed)