This year, USDAA Cynosport Games are in Arizona, and, I’M DRIVING! Yep, it’s a long way, but I’ll have company on the drive, AND, I don’t want to pass up a chance to take Chispa along. I’m always jealous of those who have their puppies tagging along at big events, because to me, it seems like a really valuable opportunity to immerse a puppy in the environment you’d like them to function in as adults. Of course, NOT having this opportunity has never really held any of my dogs back, but even so, I’m not passing the chance up. Long ago, when Solar was a puppy, I made an effort to take him to local high school football games, where there were whistles, screams, and all of the general madness you’d expect at a sporting event. That SAME madness is what you see at the big events, both domestic and abroad. I’ll never know if it helped him, or if he would have been able to sense the atmosphere and step it up anyway. Kind of like vitamins; you may not know if they help, but they probably won’t HURT.
And so it goes with Chispa. This past weekend, she tagged along to the Bay Team USDAA Regional in California. It’s a pretty big event; outdoors, five rings, lots of aroused dogs and people, lots of whistles, cheering, clapping, etc. Madness. Happy, happy madness. *I* love that environment, particularly when it’s outdoors. *I* love to have a crowd cheering on a run, and ideally, I’d like my dog to feel the same. Again, I don’t think Chispa NEEDS this exposure, really. She already seems to have a strong sense of being a performer, in the same way that some little kids just love to play dress up and perform in front of anybody who will pay attention. Some just DO. And others just DON’T. Chispa seems to fit in to the former category. Solar definitely did. Juno, and Chipper, and Frodo…they were not as keen to play dress up and perform in front of a crowd. Frodo will DO it, and do it quite well, but I have to work to help him forget that the crowd is there. I have to work to create a nice bubble for him, to focus things down so we can draw energy from the crowd without being aware that they’re there.
Chispa loved the crowds and the energy. At one point, I set my Starbucks coffee cup down to untangle her from her own leash, as we stood ringside. A dog whizzed by through a tunnel, and Chispa got suuuuper excited. And, good girl that she is, instead of shrieking like mad, she looked for something to put in her mouth, aaaaaannnnddd, my coffee was no more. A couple dozen pieces of cardboard were all that were left after a few minutes. And of course it was cute, so I let her. I do like that she will grab for a toy, or her leash, or something, to pacify herself ringside. It’s a nice balance of arousal and self-control. Plus, cute!
The trip was a little tough for Chispa in one regard; she was in her crate a lot. She gets a lot of free time, as I’ve mentioned before, although she’s in her crate right now because she was caught splashing in the toilet bowl. Sigh… In any case, she was a trooper to be in her crate so much. She also had some trouble finding some quiet space to relax and poop, but that’s pretty normal for a puppy in a new situation. All’s well that ends well, though, and now we’re back home, horizons expanded!
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