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Stella's Q at WSOTC



blog-0350507001409874820.jpegCompetition-style obedience with Stella has been an interesting — and marathon — experience.

Stella is a third-generation Master Earthdog (May 2006, at age two) but it took until summer of 2008 to get a Rally Novice and October of 2009 to get her CD. Peggy did all the obedience work through CD, while I worked with Echo. After Stella's CD we switched dogs and Stella and I started down the long road to being able to even plausibly enter Open A.

We hit a roadblock with the dumbbell though, and it took nearly five years to overcome. It took until July of 2014 to enter Open with any hope of qualifying and Stella got her first Q at our club's specialty in July.

A friend told me about a nice facility in Kent Washington being used by the Washington State Obedience Training Club for a trial. I couldn't go for the Saturday trial as it was the same day as Cairntastic Day put on by our own club, so I drove the three hours on Sunday morning to try our luck in the second trial.

It was a festival of markdowns, but we managed to hang on to enough points to qualify. We may not be the most precise team (to understate it wildly) but I am pretty sure that I have one of the happiest dogs by my side and i would not trade her for the world.

This trial was fortunate to have a pro photographer on-site and all of these attached photos are © NinasPhotography.com.

Stella's heeling is happy if rather loose. In fact she is usually out of control until about half-through the heel-free and settles in by the time we head for the figure-8. I've usually burned my extra command and many, many points by the end of heeling. Strangely, on a good day she will track me with laser-like precision, but apparently never during a qualifying performance in the ring.

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The first moment of truth in Open comes early, with the Drop on Recall. Here is a sight that triggers the return of breathing and fuels the fire of hope...


No time to relax, because the next opportunities to fail come immediately to hand in the form of dumbbell retrieves. First the flat, then over the high jump. My throw on the retrieve over high jump was off to the right and I was thrilled when Stella aimed for the jump rather than going around it, as she has many times before.

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The last individual exercise is the broad jump. Stella cut it close on the landing, but cleared the boards and did her signature anti-clockwise "twirl" on the landing. Points off but qualifying. That girl gets some air, I tell you what.


After the individual exercises come the group exercises: sits and downs out of sight. I'm always dizzy from holding my breath and heart palpitations while waiting out the three minute sit and five minute down. On Sunday she held despite some misbehavior next to her, and all was good. A green ribbon, big hugs (and cheese!) for Stella, and a long, satisfied commute home.

Still another leg to go, and I never take anything for granted.

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Oh wow Brad - wonderful!Congratulations to you both. I remember the agony waiting on the sits and downs out of sight. Don't think I could handle even novice with Angus. What is it we say? Patience and persistance? You sure have that-well done.

Great photos by the way.

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Wonderful...just wonderful!!  To do all that you and Stella have accomplished is just wonderful!!!

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Stella is a beauty and, as you said, a *very* happy girl.  Love to see the two of you being rewarded for your patience and effort!

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