Sunday morning started with promise of an excellent day -- I rummaged through my dirty clothes and pulled out my secret weapon -- the Lucky Hanukkah Socks. Yes, they were streaked with dirt and so on but a woman needs to do what a woman needs to do...
I headed over to the draft test site with Cadi, Mac and Zoey, arriving almost two hours early because: 1) I hate being late; and 2) the time difference meant that I couldn't sleep anyway. Being so early gave me both a prime parking space and bragging rights over Lisa K. about being the first one there, both of which are important and further evidence of the power of the Lucky Hanukkah Socks.
The handlers are given a walk through of both the ring exercises and the entire 1/2 mile freight haul, which changed each day. So off we went -- the judges, stewards, and handlers -- to walk the Sunday freight haul. We stopped along the way to listen attentively to one of our esteemed judges since clearly he had something important to say about what we were to do in this spot. He looked solemn and said that that we would be stopping there during the freight haul for a moment of silence in honor of the tree that was killed in Saturday's freight haul.
Sigh. This resulted in anyone who had not already viewed the devastation caused to the poor tree by our unfortunate collision with it on Saturday to run up and check it out, make admiring comments about doing things really well (!), and further increase the redness of my face. Apparently Lucky Hanukkah Socks do not cause memory loss in others -- sigh...
Okay, it was finally time for the action to start. Ruth N. -- another of those people who just makes you want to be a better person -- handled Team Tondi, which was her boy, Tonka, and my Cadi. Although they did not pass, you really have not seen two happier dogs -- their tails wagged constantly when they were hitched up so it was ultra-cute and just made you smile. We will tweak Team Tondi a bit and try again in the fall -- here is a cute picture of Team Tondi with their handler, Ruth (thanks Terri!!):
Remember that Mac and Zoey moved up to Open after passing the novice test on Friday, and Open has some important additional challenges over the novice test. Specifically, the dog works entirely off leash, has to wait inside the ring while the handler retrieves the cart from outside the ring, the dog must back an additional three feet (so a total of four), the three minute stay is out of sight, and the dog pulls close to their weight in the cart for the freight haul. These are big differences that require different skills from a dog and handler.
However, when one member of the team (preferably the human) is wearing the Lucky Hanukkah Socks, all things are possible. Mac ran first -- his ring exercises were again just lovely -- including the display of his most unusual talent of backing the cart up several feet while he remains sitting!
Then it was the out of sight group stay. The handlers huddled behind a massive tree but I quickly discovered a problem -- Team Tondi was the first team in the stay group and Mac was the last. If I was too far one way Team Tondi could see me but getting out of their sight meant Team Mac was in view -- yikes. Even though I was not technically handling Team Tondi, being in view of my own dog during a group stay is not cool -- as we all know (well, most of us anyway) -- it is double handling so I had to position myself sideways next to the tree so neither end of the stay group could see me -- awkward but ethical.
I really cannot believe Mac does out of sight stays with three weeks of practice and practice that included no actual group of dogs. Well, I did once make Maize join him in an out of sight stay but that was the extent of his group out of sight stay experience so it was much to my complete amazement that he once again did the group out of sight stay -- and off we went on the freight haul (or as the judges called it, The Sunday Walk in the Park).
There was one instance of a potential tree/pee problem but an early shriek averted disaster and we soldiered on, after a collective sigh of relief. Up the little hills, down the little hills. Through the trees, over the goose poop, past people and dogs, circling here and there and then we were back in the ring with a new title: Draft Dog.
Yes indeed -- in his first draft test weekend, Montana Mac earned two draft titles and his Versatility Dog award. Surely you cannot doubt the power of the Lucky Hanukkah Socks now??!!!
Thanks to Terri and Lisa K. for these pictures of Mac earning his DD...
Okay, it was time for Zoey, Zoe-Bean, Bean, Beaner and all other manner of nicknames (the bean reference is for jumping bean :). And yes, when I was harnessing her I did get some ribbing from spectators outside the ring about remembering how to do it correctly -- sigh... But I managed to get the loops and all other pieces where they needed to go and triple-checked it so we passed that particular exercise (harness & hitch) on Sunday -- whew!
And then we were off and Zoey's ring exercises were simply flawless. And not only was she really just perfect, she was happy, enthusiastic and quick -- and pretty :)
Zoey had even less experience with out of sight group stays because she never got the one practice session with Maize but Zoey is perfect, and did a perfect first ever out of sight group stay and off we went on the freight haul, where she was again perfect, and again we came back in the ring after our Sunday Walk in the Park with a new Draft Dog! Again, thanks to Terri and Lisa for these great pictures of Zoey yesterday...
So let's review the evidence -- on Friday I wore the Lucky Hanukkah Socks and Mac and Zoey earned their NDD's (consider that only five teams passed and Mac + Zoey = 2 of them) and they both became Versatility Dogs. On Saturday I wore different socks and I forgot how to harness and we took out an innocent tree. On Sunday, with the Lucky Hanukkah Socks back in the game, both dogs earned a very challenging title: the DD. Coincidence?! I think not...
A real honest to goodness Jewish grandma has offered to send me new Lucky Hanukkah Socks -- can you even imagine the power in those socks?!
Okay -- yes -- the Lucky Hanukkah Socks are just one (HUGE IMPORTANT) part of draft test success. Tomorrow I will share thoughts about how -- in addition to the (VERY IMPORTANT) Lucky Hanukkah Socks I took two dogs to a draft test (one not even mine) and came home with four new titles (and two new Versatility Dogs).
I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that any mishaps are easy to laugh about now :)