Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Evaluation at the Fair

The final day at the Fair was the longest. All the judging for our Service Dog Club was done one on one, and to cascade through all sixteen plus members with dogs took literally all. day. The highlight, however, was that Haddie and my son continued to hit high marks.

Another ring showing on this day was to judge the skill of the Handler with the Puppy in Training in regards to the Commands associated with the age of the dog - with planned distractions in the ring. Haddie was classified as an Intermediate, so her tasks to complete were more advanced than a younger Puppy in Training.
My son was instructed through a course by the Judge; who was looking for how the Handler stayed on task of the puppy's commands - not necessarily how the puppy performed. For example, if Haddie decided she did not want to perform a Lap Command, how did my son react and follow through in getting Haddie to do the Command; Did he get flustered? Did he give up? Did he lure with food? Did he scold her inappropriately?
My son was the most nervous about this part of Judging. Why? Because just a few classes prior Haddie decided she was done with listening. She didn't want to do anything during class time when they were practicing for this part of Fair. My son knew it was hit or miss with her (knowing she was getting closer to her heat cycle wasn't helping - moody explains it best).
We watched intently as my son and Haddie worked the expectations in the ring. I thought our team did excellent!! She performed every task, and my son worked her well to encourage her to follow through with every expectation. My son exited the ring disappointed. He thought they didn't work together well at all. He felt he really had to over work to get her to do anything.
In the end - my son received a Champion title, and a Grand Champion Trophy. Apparently, working really hard paid off. After all - this was about the Handler more than the puppy (even though Haddie did great too - some areas did take her longer to perform). Although she held her sit and down expectation of 3 and 5 minutes respectively with out budging - and never mind the Distractor walking circles around the dog, dragging a metal folding chair that would occasionally, "accidently", drop next to the dog - with sirens, bells, and bird calls playing out of speakers every so often too, or the Judge stepping over Haddie. Yep, Haddie was a rock star - didn't move a muscle.
The other section of the day was an Evaluation Course in the common areas of the Fair. This was by far my favorite part of the entire Fair Weekend. The concept: how well does the Puppy in Training perform in a real world environment. This was about evaluating the teamwork of the human and puppy too; do they pay attention to one another? Is the Puppy focused on the Handler more than the environment? I think these photos kinda lets you know what the outcome might have been ...
In a small group, they followed one of our Leaders through the Fair Grounds with the Judge. The Leader would perform a task with her Facility Dog, and then individually each Handler and Puppy had to perform the same task while the Judge evaluated. My son was chosen as the first seat in doing everything, so he really had to be on his game to get it right with out much forward prep in watching and learning from others.
The course went to the Roller Coaster, walked along the Duck and Goose pens, through the Swine Barn, a bathroom break by the parking lots, a walk in the Commercial Building (crowded with Vendors and people talking in microphones doing demonstrations), up a steep flight of stairs and back down, stopping next to a Mexican Band playing for the lunch crowd, and then back to the Dog Barn for a photo. The entire course was 30 minutes in the heat of the day.
Family was allowed to follow - but we could not be visible by the Handler or Puppy. We could not talk or interfere, but could weave in and out of people watching and hoping to get a good camera angle.   It was fun to see the reaction of the other passerby's - stopping to watch the Evaluation Course and overhearing their questions and what "they thought" about each Puppy.
I was most shocked and excited that Haddie went up and down the stairs with out pulling. Oh my goodness - she did it correctly!! Something that she has really had to work on for a very long time. I think our time at the Condo in July actually paid off - five flights of stairs on an open wooden staircase must have fixed her fascination of going crazy up stairs. We worked hard on fixing that task on that particular vacation.
The result?! Haddie received a perfect score!!! If this is any indication of her life at CCI University - I am thrilled!! Happy Dance for my son and Haddie; another Champion Title, and Grand Champion Trophy. My son was beaming. They did it!!!
The Fair was now over for these two cuties. Haddie spent the rest of her time relaxing on the 4-H Bench, and dinner. She was t.i.r.e.d and we didn't push her any longer. She deserved the rest - she had performed beautifully all weekend. And to think that she went into Heat just 48 hrs after this - amazing her attitude was so perfect all weekend.
My son was asked if he wanted to step in last minute to show a Mixed Breed in Confirmation Class. Haddie is a pure bred and didn't qualify, but there was a Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever Mix in our group who did, and whose Handler wanted a break from her crazy day of scheduled events - that she asked if my son wanted to take over Lynn (Puppy in Training).

Of course!! My son had no idea what to expect or what to do, but he's up for anything that sounds fun. So a crash course in Confirmation was given to him, and he bonded with Lynn quickly over the next hour prior to entering the ring. I sat and had dinner in the bleachers overlooking the Ring while my son was doing all his last-minute prep, and then showing. It was so fun to watch him work.

The result?! A Second Place title. Yay!!! Way to go, Lynn and Son!!

We stayed late that evening helping to pack up e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g with our Club. The kids were running on adrenaline overload from a great weekend at Fair together - while the parents were working hard at shuffling kids here and there to get tasks completed so we all could drive home.
We arrived home close to midnight - and it took us awhile to get off of our Fair High. It was a fabulous weekend! While my son and Haddie racked up Champion and Grand Champion Titles - the best part was seeing my son work really hard at maintaining his amazing work ethic for the club, and teamwork in the ring with Haddie. This was all about him, and he deserved every amazing title and moment with Haddie. Such sweet memories that I don't think could ever really be repeated.

First time at Fair ... the best!

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