The Novice Cheeseburger

Last weekend, Chispa and I entered the Novice ring. It was AKC, Novice JWW, nothing too strenuous. Plus, it wouldn't have mattered what the courses were; our skills as a team are what they are – we're novices together. I was anxious all week leading up to the weekend. Did I make the right decision? Will this be a setback with Chispa physically? Are we ready? Is she ready?

Things went about how I expected in the ring – her obstacle focus was nonexistent compared to when at home, and her enthusiasm was doubled. Despite only taking a few obstacles on the first try, she was a lot of fun to run through our first flight:

And of course, there's the obligatory mash-up:

Well, in any case, Chispa came through the weekend A-ok. It was a good decision. I'd be lying if I said that the last few months weren't a punch to the gut (and the throat). I'm a competitor. I just am. And, a lot of my identity is wrapped up in being a competitor. So, having Frodo break *and* Chispa, in short order, has left me feeling like I am without identity. Hamstrung, really. Some will snort and some will minimize, others will probably lay shame down, but it is what it is, and I'm not ashamed to say it. It's who I am.

So, were we competitive? Heck to the no. I mean watch the video, we could hardly string two obstacles together. But it was so much FUN to be in the ring with that little nugget. Saturday's run earned us a sticker, thanks to the magic of AKC Novice rules, where you can qualify, and even place, with faults. Yes, my international friends, it's true. So, our little dirty Q in AKC Novice JWW, well, that meant an awful lot to me. Chispa didn't care, she had a blast in all three runs, and frankly, so did I. But the progress from run 1 to run 2…that was pure bliss. I felt better than in a long time.

Of course, Sunday, I pulled in to the fairgrounds, and when I hit gravel, Chispa got up from sleeping and started pacing the dogbox and staring at me as if to say she was ready for more. She's a pretty quick study, she acted like she knew where we were, and sure enough, she was pretty amped up. And, amped up Chispa is look-at-mom-a-lot Chispa.

This is all perfectly fine, perfectly normal, and perfectly awesome.

Best of all? None the worse for wear Monday morning. So, with that in mind, the next phase began…contact training!

Our next foray in to the ring is the beginning of September. I could go on and on, but really, all of THIS still applies 🙂