We recently attended the SHCV Christmas party at KCC park. It was a hot day, so we needed to take a camping gazebo for shade for us and the dogs. Our camping gazebo doesn't fit in J's ute (pick-up truck if you're reading this in the USA), so we loaded it into my car, and set off with us, four dogs, three chairs, two cars and a camping gazebo!
Back in June, I was driving J's ute up to the NVSDC Classic, when it mysteriously overheated. A few weeks ago, we got a recall letter from the manufacturer to have the cooling system adjusted, and since then, the wretched vehicle started overheating even on very short trips. I stopped on the way to buy sunscreen, and was not particularly surprised to see J's ute was stopped on the side of the highway, just a short distance from KCC park. I checked that he and the dogs were ok, and went on to claim our spot at the park.
The SHCV had the front lawns, and had set up an L shaped row of gazebos, each with a resident set of huskies. Western Port Obedience Dog Club had kindly loaned us some agility equipment, and Knox Obedience Dog Club had loaded us (to my excitement!) a Rally O ring. One of my favourite trainers, Toby's mum, had brought the ring and her expertise to let us have a go at something many people don't believe huskies can do.
Once J arrived, we set up and staked out our dogs under the canopy. We took it in turns to stay with the dogs and to visit with friends we hadn't seen since racing finished back in August. The club had organised a series of activities - a grooming demonstration, some fun competitions, and a BBQ lunch. We also put in a call to the Roadside Assist company to come and look at the car.
Of course, I was keen to have a go at the Rally O ring, and when it was time to do that, I took Czar and rushed on in. Normally, the advice is to do a dog-free walk through, but I was in a hurry. It was the first time in months that I'd looked at a rally ring, and I was surprised that I remembered most of the signs, and Czar remembered what to do too. We did two respectable run throughs, which was lots of fun. Then, as a challenge, I took Bolo through. Bolo has never attended Obedience Classes, but he knows his basic "manners" - sit and drop. I was able to use treats and the hand gestures that Beginners Class had shown me to lure Bolo into the positions I needed, and use the speed of the rally ring to keep him focussed. Like Czar, he was highly treat focussed, and offered me a range of behaviours quickly to try and earn the treat. I really wish I dared take him to Obedience! I just don't feel like I can control the situation at class - so many people, so many dogs, so many unpredictable factors.
Then, I took the lovely Bree through the rally ring, while Toby's mum took Czar. Bree is an unusual husky, as she can be trusted off lead, and has won Obedience Titles. Like Ishka to J, she is absolutely bonded to her human, Czar's favourite Sausage Man, and I wasn't sure if she'd work for me. Again, I had to use lures more than direct commands to get through the circuit, but it was a fascinating experiment.
I think J's favourite parts of the Christmas party are the silly competitions - Noisiest Dog, Waggiest Tail. Last year, poor Frankie took out Baldest Dog - some five months after the vet shaved his tummy to ultrasound it for the source of an infection that took his eye sight. This year, J had a cunning plan. Ishka is the only one of our dogs who knows the command Speak. J took Ishka over to the pavilion to be entered, but also entered Bolo, who stayed with me in the gazebo. When Ishka and J walked off, Bolo screamed his protest at being left behind. Normally, I would hush his noise, which is piercing and will continue unabated for a long time. In the end, Bolo won 5th place in Noisiest Dog, despite being with me in the gazebo, some distance from the pavilion where the judges gave Ishka 1st place. I'm pretty sure that if Bolo had made the same noise over in the pavilion, he'd have won the 1st place ribbon!
J then suggested that I take Czar over for the Best Trick competition. There were several contenders for this ribbon - Bree has taken it out several years in a row, and she won 1st place, again, jumping through the hoop made by pressing a foot to the opposite knee. Czar and I demonstrated his Play Dead trick. I firstly got him to drop, and then I said "bang!" Actually, I had to do it twice - Czar wasn't focussed the first time, but when he rolled over the second time, he got an "Ah!" from the on-lookers. He took out third place.
After all this, the Roadside Assist man finally arrived. His advice was to stop driving the ute, and have it towed home before the constant overheating cracked something vital. He assured us that the dogs would be able to travel in the car on the back of the tow truck, but when the tow truck arrived, we were advised that they would actually not be covered under their insurance. Our friends immediately rallied around us, offering lifts and help, and we got the dogs and all our gear home safely. Since then, the ute has been back to the manufacturer's, and had the entire engine replaced. Hopefully we won't have any problems with it again.