Monday, May 22, 2006

Over the tollway and through the boonies.....

Yesterday, Roc and I had a grand adventure. Our friend Susan B. (thank you, Susan) signed us up for an Obedience Fun Match at a wonderful dog training facility in Antioch. Which is still considered in the metropolitan Chicago area, but not by much. We're in Skokie, which is right next to Chicago.

To give some perspective on my usual driving habits: my car is six years old and just turned 27,000 miles. My first car, purchased at the age of 16 from my mother, was the family car; 13 years old with 41,000 miles on it. It ate oil and the gas gauge was broken, so every 200 miles I would pull into a gas station and say "Fill up the oil and check the gas, please." Which also gives a clue to my age, since there were actual gas station attendants when I was 16.

Anyway, we got lost on the way to the match. Not big lost, but enough lost to call the training center and plead for help. At which point a revelation was presented to me that I had never before faced: Mapquest was wrong. I didn't even realize that was possible until yesterday. Frank, the owner of the place, a wonderful trainer and instructor, said "Mapquest doesn't know squat around here."

So I followed Frank's directions and only got lost and called for help one more time. These are the times that I enjoy being a girl, because I have no compunction about yelling for help (or directions) when they're needed. We arrived at the Fun Match safe and sound, only about 15 minutes late.

We were third or fourth up in the Open ring, so I had a chance to walk Roc around and heel a tiny bit before it was our turn. He decided to be Mr. Nerves - my first clue was when the judge said "Forward," I said "Roc, Heel" and he sat down to scratch his ears. He always scratches when he's nervous.

Things improved from there - he did a little sniffing, and hesitated a bit on the retrieve on flat, but we got through it. Not a qualifying run, but we haven't been in a strange place for a while, so I knew he'd be better on the second try.

He was. He was wonderful. I lost major points for the team, though. Apparently I watch my dog too darn much, slewing around in the finishes, bending to "help" on the Recall. I must cultivate stillness. And trust my dog to do his thing. Which would be much easier if, at our last trial, I hadn't spent a good few minutes heeling around the ring by myself.

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