An Australian Dog Trial Through the Eyes of Maddi by Ann Brown

dog trial

Maddi’s first prize at Obedience in 2008

I woke up early this morning and went into my Mum’s room, she was still asleep, that was not good, I wanted my breakfast. First I nudged, no movement, another nudge, still nothing. OK this is it!! time to pull the covers off!!!. That brought a response. Now we can get moving. My breakfast first, then a good run around the garden, I have to make sure that no strange beings have been in the garden overnight, back into the house.

She’s in the shower, ‘must take a peek’. Yep, she’s there all right and the room feels really warm. A hand comes around the shower curtain and pushes the door closed again, not quite far enough, I can still get my nose in and push it open a little bit. Have to keep a check on things!!!.

Excitement is building in the house, ‘things’ are being put in the car, it can only mean one of two things, we are going to find the sea and sand OR it’s a Trial!. I can see my special jar of treats going in. So yes, it must be a Dog Trial!

The word Trial doesn’t mean an ORDEAL to me, no this is OK as far as I’m concerned, because if I do things right, I know that I will be amply rewarded!!!. That’s the best part, I luuuuuuuuv my food!!.

At last no more delays, we’re off!! A bowl of water on the floor of the car, just where I can get to it as we travel along. I love the car and travelling all around. I sit and watch out of the window as things flash past. I don’t like to put my head out of the window, it makes my eyes water. Now where was I, oh yes the Trial…..

We’ve arrived at the grounds. I can smell all sorts of dogs close by. Are these my friends or strangers? , will they be friendly?, no time to think about that. A quick bit of practice, I did OK, yep there’s a treat coming my way!!!!.

I look up, my owner’s looking serious as we walk into an enclosure. Another human takes my lead and we face yet another human holding a book, at least I think that’s what it is, it’s very much like the ones my owner has in her hand, and she looks at it with a serious and sometimes funny face on her when we’re at home. I try to read the faces of people, I can usually tell if they are pleased, sad, or cross.

A signal is given and my owner moves off, I must stay close to her, who knows she may need my protection one day. A hand appears across my face, OK I know, stand still. We’re off again and there’s a turn away from me, I catch up, and find we’re going the way we came!! Another hand in front of my face going down. I know that I must lie down. My owner cannot pet me in this enclosure. Oho, we’re off, and then a turn into me, I move slightly to avoid a foot and we carry on, again back the way we came. I look up every now and again at my owner but mostly I follow what the legs do. I do everything again very slowly and then it’s all done again at a very brisk pace. Another turn to come into me and then at last a sit.

Ahead of us I see two people standing looking at one another. I can’t see their faces moving so they must not have anything to do with one another. I see lots of humans moving their faces, just like when we dogs bark, I wonder if it’s the same thing? Walking off again around these people and halt and then around and around again. Next we’re walking in a straight line, a turn around and stop to sit, but I know that we’re not finished yet. The human holding the book has his face moving and my owner bends down to give me a big hug and ruffles my ears. I must have done good, so far!!!.

Back towards the entrance and a turn around, I have to sit alongside my owner and then we move forward, the hand in front of my face and I stand where I am. I see my owner go away and strange feet come towards me. A different hand in front of my face, I sniff, yep, OK no danger there. Then hands are moved over my body, down my legs and across my back. I know I’m safe so I stand very still. My owner’s feet are coming towards me and they walk around me and stand alongside. My owner bends down to me and has her face close to my head and I feel the familiar tremor’s through my head as her mouth moves against my face and I know that she is very pleased with me.

Back to the little peg, once more and then a few steps forward, the hand appears in front of me but this time only part of the hand is visible. This is different and I know that eventually I will be asked to go to my owner. I watch as she walks away, it seems a long way but I see her plainly. She turns around to face me, I feel a little tremor going through my body, I want to run fast to her, but I must wait for a signal!. At last, up go her arms and I am running as fast as I can straight to her. When I am just a few paces away I slow down ready to sit promptly in front of my owner. I’ve arrived!! I’m so excited, but I wait and then the signal for me to go around behind my owner to eventually be alongside and sitting up smartly. Big hugs this time, I know I did good!!!!.

Back we trot to the little peg. A few paces forward again and then I sit and wait. My owner throws my toy, well I think of it as a toy although I only get to grab hold of it when we practice at home or I’m at a trial. I am desperately trying to sit still, I can feel myself getting ready to GO!!!, my bottom won’t stay close to the ground much longer, AT LAST – The signal to ‘go’ is given and I race forward grasp the toy in my mouth and hurry back to my owner, I sit in front of her holding the toy firmly and when her hands appear I drop it into her waiting hands. I am signalled to go around to sit beside my owner. Oh, how I love doing that exercise, it’s fun.

Big pats and cuddles and the familiar feelings through my head as my owner cuddles me. Oh it feels so good to be held like this. We are on our way out of the enclosure. My lead has been returned and I now have it on. I know I can play a bit now, I catch the lead in my mouth and give it a shake, my owner opens her mouth wide and her eyes are shining. Of course I hear nothing, but she looks so pleased that makes me feel happy.

After I’ve had a good snooze, I didn’t really sleep as I was sensing things around me, I could smell some-one different coming near, a familiar smell but not our family smell. I open an eye to have a look, Oh, yes I know her from the days that we travel and I get to meet all my friends. I see happy faces and mouths opening and shutting, they look very pleased.

Time to move again. My owner has had something to eat and drink and now my lead is on again and we’re going back to the enclosure. Lots of other dogs are there, some wag their tails, others look very aloof and don’t make themselves known to us. I wish that all dogs were friendly and want to play but there are a few who have a very fierce look in their eyes, and their tails are stiff as they look at me and I know not to go close to them. I like the ones who wag their tails.

Now all the owners and the dogs go into the enclosure. I know what comes next and bit of a rest!!!! We are all in line and there are little white marks on the ground in front of us. The human holding the book, moves his face and we all go forward to the white marks and I sit smartly. My owner gives the signal to stay, and then, with the other owners walks away from me. They eventually turn around and stand facing us. No movement is made by the owners, the human with the book walks slowly down the line of us dogs, he keeps looking at something in his paw, sorry, hand. Eventually he goes back to the side of our line and again his face moves and all the owners some back to us. They walk around behind us and then stand next to us. They did that exercise rather well I thought!!!! Big hugs and then we go back away from the white marks only to turn around and walk back to them, I don’t know, we do a lot of things over and over again, it’s as though the humans don’t know what they want or can’t decide on things. Any way, their will is my command!!!!.

Back at the white marks and I get a signal to lie down and stay. Once again my owner and the others walk away from us. Repeating the previous proceedings. I lie quite still, I smell something just beyond my nose, oh how I would love to get up and have a really good sniff.. I feel a tickle on my tummy, is it an ant or something worse, I move ever so slightly, just enough to rub my tummy without really moving too much, that is a no no in this exercise. One of the dogs just can’t wait, he’s up and walking to his owner. Oh no, another strange human comes into the enclosure and takes hold of his collar and he’s led away, where are they taking him?

The little dog next to me has her mouth open and she sits up. She doesn’t leave her spot just wanted a stretch I think. How much longer, I seem to have been here such a long time, should I go to sleep. Uh-ho, movement, the owners are coming back to us. They walk around behind us and stand smartly at our sides. Yes, they have completed their exercise very well.

The human with the book is walking down the line of dogs, he puts his hand out to my owner and she takes hold of it. Their faces are moving and my owner looks very pleased. As the ‘book’ human walks away I get a great big cuddle from my owner. She is giving me kisses. I am so happy, I jump up to try to lick her face and manage to get my tongue in her ear, this makes her open her mouth wide and she shakes, I think she’s happy. Other humans that I know come over and they hug my owner. What are they doing? I did most of the work. At last! I get pats and cuddles from them.

We all go to a house without walls, there are lots of people and dogs there. The ‘book’ human is moving his face a lot and my owner signals me to move, we go up to the book human and he gives my owner a piece of paper, a ribbon and a cup. She looks so very happy and as I walk past a sea of legs, human and dog, I feel my tail wagging I am very happy too.

Everything is good.

Written on behalf of MADDI a very special deaf Cattle Dog by Ann Brown

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