After that we took the scenic route and made some short hiking stops as well as "cache and dash" stops for geocaches. We also left two different travel bugs along the way.
First was a stupid "DNF" (Did Not Find.) because I refused to stick my head into a bush of poison and thorns for a geocache. I know, I lack dedication. The dogs did get a nice off leash sprint and quick swim in the Conestoga River, though. (A river that is full of a line of kayak-only accessible geocaches. Tease.)
Next was a promising stop at "Breezy View Overlook." There were two regular caches and one Earth Cache. We got the EC but the hiking trail to the regular cache was hopelessly overgrown and you will not find me plowing through 500 feet of thorns, pickers and dense underbrush for a geocache. When I saw one of the prior cache logs stated that it took 45 minutes and the cacher emerged looking "like Indiana Jones", that was all it took to turn me around in pursuit of more sensible caches. Or, at least wait until winter kills all of that green stuff. Perri still looked like a walking brush pile after that adventure. Breezy View Overlook was absolutely wonderful, though, and near another favorite hiking spot of mine - "Chickies Rock."
I was in a mood after my brief bushwhacking excursion. We got on the highway and stayed on it until we were close to the town where our Rally Trial was being held. I nailed a few quick caches on my way to Gifford Pinchot State Park and enjoyed some late lunch. At GP the pups and I made the walk to another Earth Cache that led us to some large boulders. This is probably the most excited that Molly has ever looked for a group pic.
As tiring as that all may seem, we probably did not do more than a mile or two of hiking and walking all together. It was getting close to trial time, so we drove on over to the trial site.
Ein had two lovely Veterans runs for a 204 and a 206. I am learning this about Veterans: you either get "Level 1 Veterans" or "Level 3 Veterans." Vets courses are nested conveniently off of whatever is being run before or after the Vets class. Last night's Vets courses were nested off of both Level 3 runs, and it has been a while since we had that happen! We had to do the signals exercise! That was one of Ein's worst probably-gonna-NQ signs when we were trudging through Level 3. He did it perfectly last night. We also had to do the Retrieve bonus. Of course I had big plans to shape a formal retrieve on Ein but that has not happened yet, so he got to retrieve the sun plushie I had in my training bag. He retrieved it...and literally flung it towards me! Love my boy.
Molly... thought this rally trial was very stupid. And stressful. Her first Level 1 run she lagged, and kept trying to do downs instead of sits. On any 360 turn she would stop halfway and give me a look. Now I don't know if a dog thinks, "Why in the fresh hell are we walking in a circle, you idiot?" but it sure seemed like Molly was thinking that last night. 196. Her first Level 2 run she did a little better. Some of the Level 1 signs were replaced with L2 signs and she handled them okay, but we still got a 198. Her second Level 1 course was just a train wreck. We had to repeat Sit-Halt. Embarassing. Molly did not want to do any sits the entire course and we got nailed for a bunch of double commands for that. She was laggy and flat and I was ashamed that I asked her to do this because my whole plan was to do this when she has enthusiasm for this sport. 192. Our second Level 2 course was going really well. I was upbeat, I supported every sit with a hand and verbal signal. She got to do the jump. And then we approached the edge of the ring facing the parking lot and she heard a bunch of barking and she was gone. She did the perking up in sit position really tall, her eyes got wide and her ears perked up. She was deaf to me. Somehow I got her attention back and we went to the bonus "Moving Down, Call Dog Front, Finish." I had to double-command the front but then she was suddenly with me again. Beautiful fast straight front and snappy, fast finish. My heart rate was only 250! Nothing stresses me out more than thinking Molly is going to leave the ring or have a reactive melt down. Still, we did pull a 200. If it wasn't for that disconnect and double command at the bonus, it would have been much nicer. It was our best run of the evening.
So, it really wasn't a trial that left me feeling anywhere near great about Molly and Rally. And it is a very good thing that Molly racked up a lot of ARCH points at the August trial! We need 10 more ARCH points and one more QQ.