Sunday, May 1, 2016

Poodle Club of America 2016!

Last Sunday Perri and I hit the road for the Poodle Club of America National Specialty!  There really are not words for how proud and joyful I am that Perri and I were able to attend this year.  I had accepted that it wasn't going to happen, because I refused to push Perri's recovery from her injury to get her back to full jump height in time.  But Perri recovered very nicely with time to spare and allow me to take it slow and easy with returning her to normal activity at our pace.

After last year's PCA, I decided to let Perri's ears grow long.  Last year we had naked ears.   I remember scissoring all around the ear leather, painstakingly so that I did not cut Perri and making her little triangle ears just perfect.  But this year, we had full grown ears.   I'm not crazy about ears on Perri!   Her hair is so thick and it makes her ears look enormous!  She also had a decent amount of length on her overall coat.   Saturday night I gave Perri a bath and took at least a full hour to blow out her coat - I have never done this before.   I usually do about 20 minutes of drying just to get most of the moisture out of the coat so she isn't cold.  I blew the coat out so that she had those beautiful smooth legs like all the fancy poodles do.   I clipped her face tight and short again.   I brushed those ears out.   Perri's no fancy show poodle, and I'm no fancy groomer.   I'm still learning, but I'm doing my best.   I felt like Billy Coleman in Where the Red Fern Grows, when he cleans up his hound dog Little Anne for the beauty contest at the coonhound competition that he attends.   Out of his league, but so full of love.   (That will forever be my favorite book, by the way.)  Perri was absolutely gorgeous, I almost had tears in my eyes.   I knew my poodle was going to be the best poodle at that show!

She looks kinda silly and poufy in the pictures, but in person...she was just so pretty!

Sunday we started our drive.   We stopped at a rest area and found a geocache.   As soon as she hopped out of her car crate, someone gasped at how pretty she was.  We continued on, slightly out of our way, to Rehoboth Beach.   There was a special kind of geocache there that I wanted to check out!   It was a Webcam Geocache and they are no longer allowed to be created, only the existing ones are grandfathered in.   Unrelated to geocaching, there is a livestream webcam at the boardwalk at Rehoboth.   In order to log the webcam cache, you need to get yourself into the view of that webcam and take a screenshot of yourself.   This was simple with a smart phone!   Perri and I sat on a bench, did the screen capture at that was that.   Here is a photo of Perri on our bench, but of course with my iPhone and not the webcam. (Our cam picture was so far away you can barely make us out.  I wore red so that I could easily see myself and it's a good thing.)

We stayed at the same campground, in a cabin, as we did last year.  Perri was weird about the outdoor area at the cabin though (a different one than we stayed at in 2015.)  She approached it at a crouch and seemed very uncomfortable there.   Very strange.

Monday morning was the Poodle Club of America agility trial!   This was the only event that Perri was entered in this year.   I made the decision to not do rally obedience this year, and certainly not obedience.  Perri is just not there yet.

We got there early, I wanted to watch the Masters Standard class run!   Lots of acclimation time for Perri, lots of getting petted and admired by people and eating treats.   The Open Standard course was super flowy and we did really well on it...except...the weaves.   At about pole 9 she skips a pole and then gets right back in and finishes - she did this twice.   To be honest this was as happy as I could be with a weave fault.   She made a mistake, but got right back in there.   And she was willing and quite happy to try again!   I didn't ask her to do it a third time - her confidence on that obstacle is way too fragile and I need to respect that.  We will get there.

Excellent Jumpers with Weaves was next.  It was a fast moving, fun course!  I would have loved to try it with Molly.  I got us a refusal with a late front cross (sigh, so mad at myself.) and later a missed jump and missed weave entry.   I chose to not ask her to re-do the weaves, and she did finish the weaves after she got into them.   I still truly believe Perri understands weave poles, but her commitment to twelve poles is shaky and she has low confidence on our time in the ring needs to support moving forward in those areas.   Duration and commitment.

So, no "ribbons or Qs" at PCA - those physical measures of success.   But truly, I was just so happy to be there and I treasure the many "personal Qs" that we had - it is a gift to be able to appreciate moving forward as a team even if you don't get a qualifying score on record.   PCA is so special.   I love the grass sod ring, the smell of the place, watching a solid day of only poodles running agility, and all of the people I got to meet.  

We met a woman who said that Perri reminded her so strongly of her parti standard that she recently lost, that she got tears in her eyes.   (On her suggestion, I looked up her Facebook page.   Her late dog definitely bears a striking resemblance to Perri.)  She swore up and down that Perri has "Mydramagic" in her blood - she said that it is not doubt with her parti coloring and head shape.   I did some amateur Google research, I know nothing of breeders and bloodlines.   I found it interesting that the breeder of the Mydramagic dogs seems to have resided not even an hour from the "breeder" that Perri's prior family bought her from.   I do have to wonder...  Perri's head is definitely shaped differently from other standards, not as boxy.   More petite and narrow and her eyes are like "alien eyes", we've always called them.   I noticed that dogs with a lot of Mydramagic in their pedigree have that type of head.   Anyway.   It was fun to research, I will never know for sure - but it sure was fun.  It didn't help that the internet wasn't as much of A Thing "back then" when this breeder was breeding.

Anyway.   Ribbon-less but full of joy, we headed out to the beach.   Now that Perri played agility and got some photos taken while doing so, it was time to undo all of that grooming!   We went to Ocean City, MD and found some geocaches...and then I let Perri off her leash for a run.  Wheeeeeee!   She was a total maniac!   She was spinning and pouncing and running and barking and barking at nothing, but just out of pure joy.  I owed her a beach run.   I will never forget when we went to the beach in October and she was on crate rest and we were struggling so much with all of her rehab exercises and restrictions and I dreamed of when ...if!....she would be able to run on the beach again.

I just love this dog.   I love this breed.   We finished our day with some nosework in the cabin!   Perri nailed three box hides and two interiors and we called it a night.   Very strong, confident work away from home.   

Tuesday we went back to the Civic Center and watched some poodle-only Obedience and Rally and relaxed in the bleachers.   Perri has changed, even from last year.   This year she was able to lay down and rest on the floor up in the bleachers.   She still did some alert barking and plenty of staring, but she is definitely changing for the better.

This was the last year that PCA will be held on the East Coast.  It will be moving to Purina Farms starting in 2017.   I don't know if we will ever go there - it seems so far away.  It was magical to be able to attend this year.  I will treasure our two trips to PCA, I feel so very very fortunate to have been able to enjoy those special times with the best poodle in the whole world.

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