This weekend, however, is a different story.
While planning out my show calendar a couple months ago, I noticed there would be an obedience show in Southgate (a mere 30 minutes from me) with 2 shows each day - I decided I couldn't pass it up, so I pre-entered. If I could get him ready enough, it was a possibility we could get his UCD title in one weekend.
Obviously, that didn't happen.
I trained and trained. He took to the recall over the jump like an old pro, we were heeling fine in class (it needed tweeking, but it was fine for a Novice A), and even though his sit- and down-stays left something to be desired for, they were passable as long as he didn't break them. Going into the show, I was more scared he would break his stays.
It was the opposite.
Day one, show one: We entered the ring and he must have left his heeling at home. I had a tight leash the entire time because he was lagging behind me the entire time; the figure-8 was just as bad. The off-leash work was a disaster - he was nowhere near me. However, he didn't break his honor down nor the sit-stay during the group stay. And he had a BEAUTIFUL recall over the jump, although his front was slightly crooked, and we only got points off for him hesitating during the finish. Total score: 141/200.
Day one, show two: Pretty much the same as show one, but his heeling was just slightly better. Total score: 143/200.
A qualifying score is at least 170/200.
Day two, show one: On-leash heeling was only slightly better - the leash wasn't as tight as on day one; but he didn't even attempt to heel with me off-leash...he decided to go sniff something in a corner (though, in his defense, even some of the people in Open and Utility were complaining about this particular corner, and the ring in general). He didn't break his honor down, but stood then laid down during the group sit-stay. During the recall, he walked up to the jump, sniffed it, then popped it; came into a front and didn't complete the finish. Total score: 43/200. Ouch.
Day two, show two: All heeling was slightly better - I'm told it didn't look as bad as I thought it did. Still forgot our auto-sits somewhere (those were missing all weekend). He kept his honor down, but stood during the group sit-stay. Jumped the jump on the recall, but immediately did a right-finish with no sign of a front, but didn't didn't sit - just stood at heel. Total score: 89/200.
While we have most of this stuff at home (and in parking lots, stores, the obedience club, etc etc etc), there was a notable difference. A friend went with me for day two and said, "Yeah, that isn't the dog you have at home in training..." We would practice fine outside the ring, but he would shut down once we crossed the threshold into the ring. But now I know what we need to work on.
Thank you to everyone at Happy Paws Training Center for holding this show, and to everyone who attended the show. Everyone was very supportive and helpful, and only encouraged us to keep trying. As a friend of mine said, and what I need to hold on to during these frustrating DNQ's: "By stepping into that ring and competing, you are doing 90% than what all other American Pit Bull Terrier owners don't do."