Now, you might think it's a little early for a year-end review. However, we just completed our last weekend of trials for the year and thought it was a good time for a review. Our goal for 2010 was to get the UDX title. Well, we fell a little bit short of that goal but when I look back at the year of trialing, I am very happy with what we accomplished - nine UDX legs!
At the beginning of the year I was not optimistic about setting this as a goal. Our first time out last January was going to be a 'do or die' weekend. If he had not done anything at that first trial, I was not going to pursue the title. As luck would have it, he qualified that weekend and got his first two UDX legs. He qualified the next three trials also and earned three more legs. So, five trials - five UDX legs. Then the magic stopped and the wheels fell off. I haven't gone back and counted how many trials it took for the next four legs, but it was a lot.
Utility is hard. There are a million - well, maybe not a million - but a lot of things that can go wrong to keep you from qualifying. I imagine if it weren't so difficult, it wouldn't be such a great accomplishment to get to this level of obedience. What's particularly difficult for Jackson, and for a lot of dogs, is the stress in the ring that keeps them from focusing on what it is they have trained to do and do so well in practice. This weekend was no exception. Jackson was very stressed in the ring even though the trial was in the building we train in. Both days he NQd on the signal exercise. He also NQd yesterday on the moving stand when he didn't come all the way to finish. The moving stand is usually the exercise I have the most confidence in. I think it just goes to show than anything can fall apart when he is stressed.
So, that brings me to our goal for 2011. It's going to be to try to get that 10th leg and the UDX title. We've come too far to quit now - and I'm not sure what I would do with my time if I didn't have a dog to train : )