The Proof Is In The Pudding, Or Is It?

Hugo and I recently participated in a NACSW NW1 trial. I hate to say it, but I was nervous. Why? Besides the usual pre-competition jitters, I also felt a bit under-prepared.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t entered prematurely, Hugo most certainly had been taught the necessary skills to succeed, but that was a long time ago, and we hadn’t been keeping up our practices recently and I felt he was a bit rusty.

As the trial date neared I started to balk, and thought perhaps I was being hasty. Perhaps we should pull out and I should up my training regiment over the next few months and then enter again over the summer.

I’m a strong believer that practice makes “almost” perfect and that if one trains regularly and preps to standards, one should be able to enter a test with confidence that the dog is ready for the job. If you’ve done your homework, the test should be a reasonable task to ask of your dog and yourself. No need to be nervous! (Ha! As if.)

Of course, each performance is unique and rarely perfect, and anything can happen to anyone, any time, so we may not all pass every test we put ourselves to on the first go. It’s important to accept that reality with a “c’est la vie” attitude and plow forward.

If, in your training routine you follow the formula of test, train, test on a regular basis and keep a training log, you’ll have a pretty good idea of your strengths and weaknesses, and know when the time is right to enter the ring.

How’d we do, you ask? Not bad at all! Turns out some of my feelings of unprepared-ness were just my nerves; Hugo was totally ready, though I could have been a better handler. We earned four ribbons that day. First place in team score, first place in the container search, third place overall, and earned our NW1 with zero faults and one pronounced. Not bad for a little guy without much of a nose!