A Step Above...
 
Gullwing Labradors
 
 
2010 - A Canadian Odessey
 
 

Canada, September 2010 Trip



The Trip

On Thursday, September 9, 2010, we began our trip northward and returned in the wee hours of Monday, Spetember 13th. There were three legs on this trip: from New Jersey to Quebec, Qebec to Ontario, then Ontario back to New Jersey. In total, we covered 1,399 miles in about 28 hours of driving. Just after crossing the US-Canadian border on Thursday, the odometer on my car turned over 200,000 miles (a respectible accomplishment in and of itself).


Friday: Tracking in Quebec

On Friday, Cruiser tested for her Canadian TDX with the Mountain City Obedience Club (Le Club d'Obщissance Mountain City) of Montreal. The test was held just East of Montreal, in Brigham, QC and was judged by Marie Babin. We drew the last of the eight tracks, on a day that started out nice and cloudy but threatened sunshine as the day grew on and the clouds scattered. Prior to Cruiser's run, four of seven dogs passed, including Toro the Rottweiller, owned by fellow Lenape club member Gina DeAlmeida.

The track was in an open, slightly rolling field that started in short grass. I was surprised that Cruiser muddled around at the start, since the Canadian starts in her practices leading up to this track went so well. (In Canada, there is no start article, just a scent pad, which is just a 1 meter square area were the tracklayer stomps down the turf.) After relieving herself, she picked up the scent and started to go. After a 100 meter first leg, there was an open turn to the right. Again, she had to relieve herself (only this time, it was a #2).

Another 50 meters or so brought us to the highest point on the track, where straight ahead of us, about 300 meters away, were our biggest obstacles - a field of COWS! While talking with other competitors before our track, I had told them about how cows had caused Cruiser to fail her very first TD track back in the States. And now we were headed straight for them. Apparently, they were there the day before when they layed the tracks, but not nearly as close to the track as they were today.

That second leg was the longest of the track, about 230 meters. It crossed a ditch, then led us to the first article on the track. Meanwhile, the cover changed from short grass to taller grass. All along this leg, she kept stopping to look at the big hamburgers we were getting closer to. Each time, I had to get her back to tracking, which she did.

The second turn was 90 degrees to the left, so at this point, the cows are less than 100 meters away and to our right. She is still stopping to look them over and I'm getting her back to tracking each time. The third turn was again a 90 degree left, but this time it turns right in front of a single-wire electric fence. Cruiser doesn't take the 90 degree left, she just goes 45 degrees left, which puts her right under the wire. At this point, I'm saying to myself "These people aren't putting us under a live electric fence now, are they?" So, I touched the fence and sure enough, it wasn't live. I followed her under the fence, then back again twice. With the cows at our back, she was a little less distracted, but she really had to work to find leg 4 of the track again.

Along the 4th leg, the sun popped out once or twice and I was starting to worry about her overheating. In Canada, you can only give water to the dog at an article. So, if she stops and insists on a drink, that could blow it for us. But she kept going. Just before the 4th leg ended, the terrain shifted back to short grass. The next turn was 90 degrees to the right, onto leg 5, which had the second article on it. As she hit that article, the sun came out again, so I was able to water her again. She layed down and wanted to stop, but I got her back up and going.

The last two legs were not long, but these were the legs with the cross-tracks on them. It didn't matter, as she had forgotten about the cows and was back to her speedy form. I don't even think she acknowledged the cross-tracks. She was slightly to the right when she got to the final glove, but she got over to it without a problem. When she got it, I dropped to my knees in exhaustion after that 915 meter track. To finish things off, the judge gave us a big hug and we took a couple of pictures with the tracklayer.

She is now Gullwing PT's Penelope Cruiser, Am/Can TDX, ASCA TD! Many thanks to the MCOC members who ran the test and to the judge!



Saturday and Sunday: Obedience in Ontairo

With success under our belt, we headed to Ontario for two days of obedience, held by the nice people of Oakville and District Kennel Club. There were two trials on each day, and they ran simultaneously. Both PT and Retro were entered into Novice B in all four trials. For two of the trials, there were enough Novice entries so that they could be in different groups for the stay exercises. For the other two trials, I recruited someone to take PT in for the stays while I handled Retro. It was no matter, both of them have very solid stays.

PT already had two legs in Novice, but she had been having problems jumping, so I didn't move her up to Open. She qualified in each of the four trials, hitting for the cycle with a first place finish, a second place, a third place and a fourth place (alhough not in that order). Her high score for the weekend was a 196.5 on her second ring appearance, which was where she got her first place finish.

Retro started off slower, though. In her first ring appearance, she wandered away from me on her free heeling pattern. In the US, that would just be points off, but I didn't realize that in Canada, such behaviour is a Non-Qualifying performance. So, no legs on the first time in. She heeled better on her second time in and got a respectable 189 (no placement on that run).

The next day, a whole new dog showed up! In her first showing of the day, she pulls her highest obedience score so far, with a 196! That was good enough for a tie for first place. She had a run-off with a Standard Poodle. I was talking with someone at ringside when the Poodle began its heeling pattern. I turned around as they were coming to the halt on the first leg and the Poodle is standing on the wrong side of the handler. I felt bad for the handler, but a lot more confident in Retro at that point. She did a nice heeling pattern and got the first place rosette.

On her final run of the weekend, Retro scored a 191.5, which was good enough for another first place finish. We had to stick around after that, though, because her 196 score was tied for High in Trial. I spoke with the woman we were tied with before we went into the ring. She had gotten High in Trial on the other trial that day and I asked her how many HITs she had gotten before. She thought for a second and said 140 ! Oh great, we've go to go against that. Well, we went in first for our run-off, which was a free heeling pattern. The judge said Forward and I thought Retro lagged a bit to start. When the judge said Halt, she comes up from behind me, keeps going and starts snapping at a fly that had been buzzing around that ring all weekend. I knew at that point, we were done. The rest of her pattern was somewhat sloppy, so the other handler picked up the HIT easily. Her Malinois was locked in, so even without the fly, Retro wasn't going to beat her.

PT is now U-CD Paris of Tulgeywood, Am/Can/ASCA CD, RE, CGC, R1MCL, R2MCL.
Retro is now U-CD Gullwing's Living in the Past, Am/Can CD, RA, CGC.

There were prizes on each day for High Labrador for the Day. It was a nice consolation for us that PT won that on Saturday and Retro won it on Sunday. All in all, it rounded off a very productive weekend - three dogs, three titles! In Canada, they call that a Hat Trick!