Well, this past Saturday was the event where I was doing some non-frisbee demos. This was the second annual Dogtoberfest put on by a local organization, CARMAA. CARMAA is not a rescue in their own right but they are an organization that wants to be a resource for local rescues and shelters to promote adoptions and rehoming. They put on this big event where rescues from all across the area can get together and showcase animals needing a home. Last year, in its inaugural year, they had over 1000 people on a gorgeous (though warm) day that resulted in a pretty big number of dogs being adopted after the event.
This year…. well… let’s just say it was not the same. Although there were more rescues and vendors (or so it seemed to me, I don’t know for a fact), the weather really squashed the day. I don’t think the “feels like” temperature made it to 40F, there was steady rain the entire day, with some breezy moments… I’m someone who likes the fall and is pretty chill with winter, but it was an awful day. It was just so miserable between the non-stop rain and the cool temperatures. Luckily I was able to crate my dogs under the CARMAA tent so they stayed somewhat dry but poor Rio was freezing. Both dogs had on shirts and Rio was also wearing his winter fleece coat. I put a mat on the ground for them to lay on but it was soaked through within 30 minutes.
About an hour and a half after the event “opened,” I was scheduled to put on a nosegames demonstration. Now, given the cold, the rain, and the breeze, I was not certain if either dog would be into the game–I also wasn’t sure if anyone would brave the rain to watch (I think I had about 12 people in total LOL). Rio doesn’t yet love nosework so I was really unsure with him (he likes doing it but he can still be distracted easily). I set up two crates in the demo area and covered them with a big sheet. The ground was soaked and the rain was light but steady during our demonstration. I let Rio go first to show a very green dog who doesn’t yet really get the game. I had him searching 4 boxes first in a line then eventually scattered a bit. He did a great job and even in the conditions he did well. It was only a matter of minutes before the sheet covering the dogs was completely saturated and dripping on the dogs in the crate. After just 5 or 6 searches, I swapped out Rio for Shayne (since my boxes were also quickly disintegrating). I set Shayne up with 7 boxes in 20×20 space (or so). She did an awesome job! I put box on box, box under box, box on crate, box behind crate… she was really awesome! Demo was only about 15 minutes long before my boxes started to get too soggy and Rio was shivering in his crate …but the pups had fun and did a great job (even if only a few people watched)!
After the demo we regrouped, put a lot of our stuff back in the car (and then spent 30 minutes in the car warming up–I know, I know, bad for the environment…but both Shayne and Rio were shivering and very cold). When we came back out to the venue, some of the rescues/vendors had already picked up and left. The rain was slightly less intense so the pups and I walked around and saw lots of friends and even some training students. Met a few adoptable dogs who were cutie-pa-tooties and was wow-ed by Shayne’s behavior. She had dogs up her butt and she just looked at me–not a single reaction all day! She also didn’t bark at all when people or other dogs walked passed her crate!
About an hour after we finished our first demo we were scheduled to do another one. By this point in the day most of the people at the event were vendors/rescuers visiting each others’ booths. I didn’t think I’d get much of an audience but decided that it was an excellent training opportunity–can my dogs respond to me in a highly distracting environment that is also less than ideal in terms of the conditions? Turns out they both are more than capable of working even in the cold rain! We did a tricks demo and I worked the dogs individually. Some of the CARMAA members (and friends of mine) were whooping and hollering support which was really nice–although there weren’t too many spectators it still felt like I had some. Both dogs did amazing jobs! Focused, involved, and clearly loving what they were doing! The two most popular tricks from Shayne were the long-distance scoot and going into her crate and shutting the door! For Rio, I think people liked his “center” behavior where he walks between my legs and his back-stall while I spin around. There were a bunch of tricks I didn’t get to do because i wasn’t going to sit/kneel/lay on the ground BUT I had fun, the dogs had fun, and I think the few people who stuck around had fun.
Through it all, CARMAA ended up getting over 300 people to the event and at least 2 dogs adopted because of the event. I’m hopeful that next year it wont be as… icky weather-wise because it is such a ridiculously fun event.
I’m so proud of my pups…
(p.s. I was freezing my tush off! My rain coat had gotten water logged while doing my nosegames demo because I had my hood down and rain got underneath the coat so I had to work in the rain in my fleece vest!)