WOW! We did it! Quinn earned his MR1 by earning qualifying scores both days. Granted, they were nothing to write home about but he did pass! And the only other dog to trial both days was not successful in his bid. Lisa Geller said later that she didn't think I realized what a big deal it was to have taken an almost 8 year old experienced schutzhund dog, with not much training, and earned a MR1 in his first weekend.
The other thing that Lisa said was that I am responsible for Mondioring in the Midwest. I hadn't considered that, but I suppose it is true. When we began bringing in Michael Ellis for seminars, after Ivan became unavailable, our area had never heard of ringsports. Michael introduced it and we began to teach our dogs proper entry on leg sleeves and how to do positions. We started to train a twisted schutzhund version combining portions of mondioring, including the environmental challenges, with the schutzhund requirements. I firmly believe this makes a well-rounded dog. Michael also sold his Loups du Soleil dogs to club members and I think that has forever changed the sport landscape as well as the presence of the malinois in this area. Ultimately, members who only wanted to do MR broke away from our schutzhund club and look where we are today!
I can't believe how nervous I was! In schutzhund, I am a zen goddess (though anyone who knows me understands not to talk to me before or immediately following my turn). I was so out of my element and sooo nervous. It is a little funny to look back on when I recall that I wasn't so nervous about Jinx but yet she failed her second day's attempt! I was petrified what Quinn might do, and he did even better the second day. I was very concerned about whether to even try again on Sunday. I had wanted to do some "clean up" to make sure I had an "out" since he had not been reinforced with multiple grips on Saturday. The last thing I wanted to do was to create the same problem we had in schutzhund where Quinn decided that releasing was not a priority. I spoke briefly with Michael Ellis on Sunday morning and he encouraged me to give it a try. I'm glad I did.
In two days, Quinn did NOT eat the food on the food refusal. That is our biggest accomplishment, as he is a total chow hound! I had learned (darnit! have to read the rules some time!) that in the MR1 I could pick my dog up from the guard, so I opted to try that. I also decided to use voice only, rather than whistle. Clearly the whistle was not working for me the day before. Once the decoy hovered over Quinn and made eye contact, it was game on and he wasn't going anywhere. Of course, I will have to reinforce the whistle for the MR2 level, but in order to pass, I let him do his schutzhund guard and walked up to heel away. He released perfectly, too! I was so proud of him! The poor boy was handicapped by a stupid handler who cost so many points we are lucky to have passed. Score-wise, we did worse than the day before by 1 point, earning 168 points. 160 is passing! whew! However, on Sunday, it was almost all on me. Quinn did super but I lost my brain, failing to acknowledge the horn that signaled the start and end of the exercises. I have to admit that Melissa Mims had told me to practice with the horn, and I even bought one, but I was worried the dog would learn to pay attention to the horn and perhaps release too soon, or recall too soon. In the end, what I discovered was that because I had not practiced with it, it became back ground noise in my nervous head and I paid no attention to it! The one time it pierced my subconscious was in the heeling pattern, where it actually startled me and I stopped abruptly. My stop startled Quinn, who apparently thought he had screwed up and he remained sitting when I continued forward. We lost all the heeling points because of that error. No kidding, my awesome heeling dog failed heeling! arggghh. dumb handler!
That morning, Steve Garvin, who was an apprentice judge and a super nice guy, asked if I was excited. Excited? no. Nervous? you betcha. I just wanted it all over. I didn't even break my camera out of the case on Saturday. I just wanted the whole thing to be done, pass or fail. On Sunday the MR1 competitors were just me and Scott Dunmore, who did double duty as a decoy, as well, and has a very nice V litter LdS dog. I asked to go first, to get it over with! Once my turn was done, it took awhile to work up the courage to go look at our score but once I did, I was free to relax, chat and take photos. It felt so nice to be finished! For our troubles, and First Place, we received a nice bite pillow.
The location was lovely and Ed and Cindy were great hosts. I would have loved to have had the time to look around more, maybe even taken a drive around the area. Maybe next time. What?? next time? Obviously a glutton for punishment, we are now planning our move to MR2. Call me crazy.....
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