Way back then, when I moved
into this house, 8½ weeks old,
Mummy at once started making me sit, lie, then lie-stay, then lie-stay while
she took a step away, then two steps, etc. as we gradually worked up to 10
minutes at 30 yards with her back turned. I became extremely dependable; that’s
just the way I am. Soon we started heeling, turning “right round“ behind her back, walking nicely in town without pulling, automatically sitting when she stopped, …
This was a tiny part of 18 months of preparation for this
week’s exam: the dreaded Begleithundeprüfung, which I needed to pass if I ever
wanted to compete in agility in Germany. This is much harder than becoming a
youth champion in the ring. For both of us.
Months before the exam I knew everything I needed to pass it. Mummy and I chose Karin and Jo-Jo (“Yo-Yo“) as our partners. We met at Mummy’s colleagues‘ in the next village
to practice four times, because they have a field big enough to accomodate all
the steps and exercises. We met in Brinkum to practise the “town“ part. Mummy walked me up and down the main street in Syke, demanding “heel“. I did a great
job at all my practice sessions at the dog school, the only dog of five that
ALWAYS stayed lying. We would have passed at the dress rehearsal, Jo-Jo,
too. While practicing, I got treats
after every few exercises; in the exam I got nothing, Mummy wasn’t even allowed
to speak to me … Bummer! She couldn’t even say “good girl!!“ or “sit“, which I had to do automatically when she stopped. (Man! In agility she fires me on like an “engine stoker!“ What a stupid test.) For “right round“ in which I have to go around her to the right and sit at her left side, she leans
a bit to the right and I get the point even when she is meanwhile turning to her left. It’s called a “German turn“. I may be Irish but I am good at the German turn. For a while I was having
trouble switching from fast to slow without any warning, so Mummy started
stomping a foot between them. I got the point.
But would she remember to do it under the pressure of the exam? And how
many points would the judge count off for
the signal? Or maybe she would think that’s just Mummy’s way of
screeching to a slow?
Doom Day arrived. We
got in the car early in the morning and went to the dog school, set up the
buffet and waited for the written test to be finished. (Mummy didn’t have to
take that part because she passed it with Gráinne.) Jo-Jo and I were the first double team of
eleven in the practical part. Mummy was already extremely nervous so it was good to get it over with.
We went onto the field and Mummy said to the judge, “Dog handler Roberta Hoffman and Róisín report for the Begleithundeprüfung.“ She took me to a spot near the bushes, said “Stay“ and walked 30 yards away. I lay and lay and lay while she stood with her back turned to me. Not very polite, is
she? Another candidate stood behind the hedge and grinned for 10 minutes so
Mummy would know that I was as calm as a cucumber.
Then we switched and Jo-Jo had to lie while I did my exercises. Mummy made a mistake when she didn’t have me sit before lie and I
made a mistake when I didn‘t sit in front of her before going round her back to
her left side. Even Steven; we take
equal responsibility. I was really good doing figure 8’s around a group
of 4 people. It was clear that Mummy would not be amused if I hugged any of
them. Then the whole scheme again without a leash and two last exercises: sit
and lie, Mummy goes away and waits for a signal from the judge that she can
return or call me to her respectively.
We made our two mistakes in this part.
Both teams had to approach the judge, who didn’t say a word. Finally she reminded mum that she had to say, “Dog handler Roberta Hoffman and Róisín report finishing the practical part of the
Begleithundeprüfung“. As if she couldn’t SEE that we were finished.
Then she told each of our mums how we had done, specially mentioning how nicely loose my leash was in the on-leash part, which Mummy had thought I would mess up. My mum hoped we had passed but the
judge even said that we had just missed sehr gut = 1 = A so a B++. Wow!
All we need is a sticker in my agility record book that I passed the
test but it felt good to be a heroine! Then I had to wait in my crate while Mummy stood behind the hedge to encourage the rest of the candidates.
Jo-Jo and his mummy Karin passed easily, too.
After a lunch break when Mummy took me for a walk – she now
let me sniff all I wanted - we had to go to Brinkum for the town part of the test. This was easy.
The 11 teams had to walk up and down the street, passing each other, doing a slalom around each
other, crossing the street correctly,
tying the dog up and leaving the dog’s sight while another dog walked past us.
Finally, the so-called “cuddle group“, where the handler had to push our way through a tight group of people. Mummy said, “I was taught not to push“ and politely asked if we could go through.They actually let us through!
Passed the whole test! We got our ribbon and documents and the judge
hugged Mummy! Wasn’t I the heroine?
I was officially measured: 44 centimeters, shoulder height.The border to “large“ is 43. That means that because of ¼ inch I will have to compete against Border
Collies and Australian Shepherds, the stars of agility. Oh well, Mummy had thought I’d be 47 cm
anyway. The judge looked sorry for us but I have worked up to
55-centimeter-high jumps and if I make it to 65, we’re off for agility trials.
Mummy got a new tent for trials and is practising setting it up alone. You
should see her lying under the tent when it blows up in her face and struggling
to get it back down. At least it’s not my job to learn this ;-)
When we got home after 8 hours, Daddy greeted us with hugs and a BIG bone for me. Mummy got a glass of champagne.
Done! Mummy says that I will never have to wait 10
minutes at 30 yards again and she will not turn her back on me. Now we can practice fun things for Agility
and Rally Obedience. We still go to school twice a week and get homework.
Wheaten number 3 “Lorena Róisín vom Don“ alias “The Pea“ has passed the exam and moves on to the next challenge!