I entered Lucy in our first CPE trial over the weekend. We entered every class, and it's weird to report that we qualified in every single run ... but not so weird when you factor in that the CPE courses are easier than USDAA and even NADAC, and CPE has extremely forgiving rules. For example, I was astonished that we even Q'd on the run where Lucy went off course (I was a lazy handler and didn't pick up eye-contact after a tunnel, so she decided she got to pick where to go next). That just felt like cheating to me, but apparently they get a little more strict the higher you go.
I entered her at Level 3, which is the highest CPE lets you start at. I sort of wish they'd let you enter higher, but it's better than having to start at the very bottom if you're confident you can do the courses. It was a good opportunity for me to try little things I might not have in USDAA, where I care more about actually getting Qs. And hey, if an off-course is no big deal, why not try risker move X instead of safer move Y? In CPE, I could even still get the Q! So it was a lot of fun even though the courses weren't so challenging.
I think CPE is an awesome venue for new handlers--I wish there had been a trial or two around here a few years ago. Their lenience about faults at the lower levels seems like it would be a little liberating and help nervous new handlers build some confidence. Plus it's a great venue for starting a new dog, because they allow so much training in the ring. And the general atmosphere at the trial was very relaxed and laid back.
Although I'm not planning to seriously pursue CPE titles on Lucy, I think I'll enter more of their trials if they're local. The club that put this one on is planning to host more, so maybe they will catch on around here. Besides, one of the club members pestered me all weekend to join and I finally gave in, so I guess I'll be helping put on the CPE trials in the future. I may as well enter them!
In other news, Pinky is doing really well, but I can't wait for those adult teeth to come in because the puppy razors are tearing my hands to shreds! We've pretty much conquered the play biting problem, but she accidentally gets me when going for a toy all the time! I just try to suck up the pain and marvel at what awesome toy-and-tug drive she's got. I must say that the real raccoon tails they sell at Clean Run are like crack. A friend gave me one and Pinky and Lucy both love it. Mr. Gomez is afraid of it, but I expected that.
I'm progressing from basic puppy training (how to live with humans, simple obedience, recall, bite inhibition, playing with humans and dogs) to some easy agility foundation work like moving with me, tunnels, walking a plank to a two-on-two-off contact, walking a ladder, downing on a low table and training the wobble board. She is awesome. I still haven't had time to go buy her a skateboard, but I will get to it, and I'm going to set up a small weave channel and get her started on that.
One issue I'm still having trouble with is stealing and hoarding objects. I'm trying to play trading games and rewarding her for giving things up, but it's hard because when she knows I want something, she tries extra hard not to let me get close. So it's one thing to shove a handful of cheese under her nose and say "drop it,"but quite another when you can't get the cheese close enough to her nose because she's executing evasive maneuvers. Last week Lucy had apparently killed another rat in the yard (go little terrier mix!) and I didn't realize it until Pinky found the corpse. What could I offer that would trump a dead rat? I finally managed to interest her in a handful of food, but it took several minutes. I think it's really a recall problem and I need to really drill that more than anything. But I'm so accustomed to having dogs that heed the "leave it/drop it" commands that I guess I've forgotten what was involved in achieving that. A lot of work, obviously ...