I took a deep breath and gave the command "heel". Kiera walked next to me as we ventured to the center of the room. The room was the size of a small auditorium with a stage at one end. That's where all the guests and judges sat, including Heidi and Rita, our instructors. I remember it like it was yesterday.
We stopped and turned, facing the stage. Kiera sat, just like clock work, without the command. She knew, that when on a "heel" and her owner stopped, to automatically sit. My daughter continues to this day to refer to her as the robotic dog!
As I once again gave the command to heel, we began to walk, turning to the left, then taking a sharp right. We wanted to show the judges our stuff...not just a straight walk exercise. Then while walking, I said, " As you may or may not know, a German Short Haired Pointer is a sporting breed. They are bred for stamina and endurance. They are born retrievers. We ask that you participate in our demonstration tonight. We ask that you imagine yourselves as trees...trees that surround a field...a field where a short hair can, in fact, have a field day!"
With that, all of our classmates and their dogs took their place around the edges of the room. Kiera and weaved in amongst them. We wanted to show the judges that distractions didn't distract a dog on "heel".
Then we returned to the center of the room and came to a halt. She sat automatically. I was proud and no longer nervous...I knew we had it!
I had intentionally worn a big baggy sweatshirt over my jeans that night. I had worn that baggy shirt for good reason. You see, I had one of Kiera's favorite "retrieve" toys stuffed up under my shirt!
(It may not look like much to you, but to Kiera it was an integral part of her daily "work". It is a rubber pigeon with a squeaker thing inside that was given to me by a woman who I will always cherish!) Now back to the story...
So, Kiera's on a sit at my side. Once again, I took a deep breath. I thought, if we nail this part of the exercise, we are golden! I slowly reached up under my sweatshirt and carefully removed the bird. It accidentally squeaked! Kiera immediately looked up with that gleam in her eye...the look of "let's play" was on her face. Remember play=work.
I gave both the hand signal and verbal command to "stay". I threw the pigeon out a good distance from us and directly in front of the judges. I released her with "Kiera OK" immediately followed by "find it". She ran across the room, totally ignoring the other people and dogs (many of which had broken their "sit stay" because they too wanted the toy).
When she got to the pigeon, I said, "bring it". She ever so gently picked up the bird and as she turned to face me, I saw that it was perfectly positioned in her mouth...wings gently bobbing on either side of the jowls.
As she headed toward me, I gave her the command to "front". She arrived, sat directly in front of me holding the bird, looking up adoringly. I leaned forward, said "release" and the bird was mine. Then I gave her the command to "heel".
Oh, she "heeled" alright. But inside of going around me then positioning herself at my side, Kiera took the shortcut and just cut diagonally in front of me to get there! It didn't matter...I told her "good girl" as she wagged proudly.
Everyone not only clapped but they cheered! I just laughed and said, "we're still working on that one!"
We won the competition and a retractable leash to boot. However, we donated it back to Heidi and Rita to give to Jobe, a stray that they were training to live in a facility designated for aids victims. After all, we didn't need it as much as Jobe did...:) We had plenty. We had each other!