Pre-Soft Launch/Test Drive

I didnt really want to write about yesterday, but then I was thinking I would like to look back on this a while down the road and see how Phin’s “pre-pre-debut” went, so… here it is.

We headed up north to a Fun Run yesterday. It does seem a little early for Phin to be fun-running, but, they had lure coursing held by my favorite coursing person so we couldnt pass it up.

I hadnt been to a fun run in a long time, well over a year. It made me remember the feelings of how nervous and frantic I was, and how confused I was with how things worked. I think part of that was me being inexperienced, but after being there again I realize that’s just kind of how the general vibe is as well. The people running it were generally pleasant, but the nervous energy from so many dogs and handlers put me on edge a bit.

They kept changing the running orders, and this was my first time ever coordinating two dogs–good practice for me too obviously. Forest ended up running his one and only standard run first. I only put him in one class as he’d been showing a teeny bit of stiffness earlier in the week, and being able to course was more important. We’d been waiting for hours, I was in a weird mood and kind of buzzy (too much caffeine I think) and did not handle him well at all. That combined with the bad footing (dirt, pine needles and patchy grass) and the fact that there had been treats used in the ring made for a pretty disconnected stardard run. I wanted to test his contacts, and when he didnt hold his contact on the dog walk I turned around and took him back. I think he was confused by this (’cause really when else in a trial do we do a contact obstacle more than once?) and he got stuck in a little off-course-loop of a tunnel under the DW. I finally had to grab him and more of less place him right in front of the DW, but then he ran it and did a perfect 2-o-2-o and he was done for the day. Sorry Bun, my fault.

Phin was signed up for two Novice jumpers courses. I got him out a bit early for our first go. We sat ringside for a while and played tug and look at the running dogs for cheese. I wanted him to be near the chaos of the ring but I think I extended it for a bit too long. We got out there, he held a great startline stay, then 2 jumps straight into the weaves. The weaves did not go over well (even though he’s been doing 6 beautifully at Wags) and he also got stuck running endlessly into and off course tunnel as I was trying to reset him for the weaves. I eventually gave up, and we went on. I got behind him and we missed a jump, but it was fine. The course was so short it seemed just plain bizarre–14 jumps, weaves and a tunnel seemed so… empty? Our second run went much better, I got him out and went into the ring within a few minutes. He still didnt get the weaves and again wanted to take that off-course tunnel, but I got him back and this time was in position and the rest of the course went beautifully. He jumped great, held perfect startlines, read my handling well and was relatively fast (which seemed to be a bit in slow-mo for him, but thats okay, he needs to be in thinking mode right now).

Then we got on to the fun stuff. Both dogs go absolutely ape shit when they get to lure course. I try not to bring them out too early because they just work themselves into a frenzy as soon as they get in sight/earshot of the lure. Phin didn’t at first realize what was going on when we started standing in line. I think they were messing with the machine and dogs werent running yet. He was playing ball with me on leash and offering downs and such, I knew he didnt know what we were about to do. After the dogs got back up and running, he looked over and saw the lure go by, and it was over. Squealing, launching straight up in the air, blood curdling screams. I was getting the hairy eyeball from a few people—his vocalizing is pretty intense… Luckily our turn came up relatively quickly and I just let him do his two runs at once. He is SO powerful and fast, he is an amazing sight to see in full extension. Forest as well is a spectacular runner, and both dogs have great drive on the lure. I wish we could do it all the time, I might even give up agility… Okay. Probably not. But nothing makes me happier to see them do something that is so natural and primal to them.

They were sacked out after that, we packed up and I got to have an early dinner (we were joking it was the blue plate special as it really was like 4:30!) with my great friend Ali who I dont see enough. We talked horses and dogs and the psychology of teaching people, it was all good stuff. Back home early and ready to start another week.

Good stuff from the puppy, I think I am going to give him a bit of a break. We jumped three times in the last week, which is more than I like for him. Maybe a little weave-and-tunnel distraction session and some contacts basics this week, thats it.

Not to mention (via the post I didn’t want to write that now wont end), it looks like we will be moving within the month! Back home in SD county, we found a great house with a HUGE yard, 2 car garage, actually affordable. Complete find that we lucked out on. I had two trials planned for the end of this month/early next–I am going to be missing USDAA for sure as that’ll be our big move week and the Silverado trial the following weekend will probably get reduced if not skipped. Oh well, it’ll be a good excuse to take it easy on the dogs. Onward…

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