I have this memory of one of my favorite teachers walking up and down the aisles in our classroom muttering “close but no cigar, close but no cigar, close but no cigar”.
As she passed out the pop quiz that she had given us the day before, I noticed more and more confused faces looking around the room. I knew something was off when she approached my desk, looked me in the eye and stated “close but no cigar”. I looked down at my quiz, took in a couple of correction marks and read the blaring red letters across the top of the page: close but no cigar.
That’s how she chose to grade that quiz. None of us had any idea how this would be translated in the grade book. There were more than a few stressful looks on the over-achievers that surrounded me in that room!
We were second semester seniors with six weeks left of school. This was her way of giving us all a kick in the butt and letting us know there would be no slacking off in her class. We were hers until the first week of May, and we still had Classic American Literature to focus on before we walked across a grand stage and got our diplomas.
Last weekend, I stood on one side of an obedience ring while Winn waited for me on the other. I put on a smile and gave her my very best, upbeat command to come to me.
She sat upright, eyes glued to me, waiting for my signal.
She stayed there, upright, eyes glued to me, not coming on my signal.
We watched each other for too long and then I had to give her one more command.
She proudly ran to me, stopped perfectly in front of me and gave me her prettiest sit. Then she waited for my next signal.
When she saw me wave my right hand, she ran behind me and sat in position on my left side. She looked up at me with her most loving expression.
I laughed under my breath and gave her a big hug when the judge said, “exercise finished”. That’s when I heard those words in my head. Close but no cigar.
We’ve got more work to do, she and I.
After receiving two qualifying scores the day before, I was overly confident as we entered the ring.
Winn was excited, our warm-up went really well. I had her attention and she was eager. Her performance of her off leash heeling was near perfect and the best it’s ever been. I was feeling so good, we were going to get her novice obedience title, Companion Dog!
And then she failed the recall….
You only get one try, and to be fair, I don’t think she heard me. She was positioned close to the judges table and there was a lot of conversation and ring noise behind her.
She was trying to block all of that out and give me her full focus, unfortunately, she just didn’t get my first command.
Her recall has never been something I had to worry about. Those are the things that always get you, the things you don’t worry about.
She performed the next excercises perfectly and then we were excused with an “I’m sorry, not today”.
So….we will keep training, keep working and keep trying. We’ve still got things learn and hopefully next time we won’t be “close but no cigar”.