The Official Debut + Real Time Ruff Love

Gorgeous pic courtesy of Phin’s newest number one fan, my sister!

I have to make this quick as I only have a few minutes and next time I’ll have the chance to post will be post-Denise Fenzi and Sue Ailsby seminars. Alot going on right now, and not just on the dog front.

On the dog front however, Phin now has his official first trial under his belt. Saturday was Gambler and Snooker, and I was a nervous wreck! I was so nervous on our first run I didnt even hear the Gamble buzzer, and had to get verbally told by the judge, “Uh, that was you..!” Whoops. Oh well. Snooker that day wasnt any better as he dropped the first bar and then by the time I even knew what was happening he was over the third jump. Tweet! Oh well again. Good part is I got that all out of my system on Saturday and by Sunday we were running “normally.”

Snooker went great. I was a bit more thoughtful about my course, mostly, and other than a tough weave entry that he missed (I set him up badly), he ran perfectly and we Q’ed! Our jumpers run was awesome despite a tough opening (USDAA is not so kind to the Starters kids!), and he nailed it. SO proud of him. He was 1.5 seconds off the fastest dog and got fourth, but these dogs were blazing fast and run by very experienced handlers. I was thrilled overall and can’t wait to get back into it with him in the fall.

Forest did well at the trial this weekend and finally picked up his last Advanced Standard leg on Saturday. His other Standard run on Sunday was beautiful but he didn’t see the tire very well and blasted through it, poor dude. I was happy with him as well over the weekend. However…

He gave me the middle finger this morning big time and now is officially on Boot Camp probation for a minimum of 2 weeks. He slipped his collar and RAN away from me this morning like he has not in a long time. I had to chase him down for blocks and finally cut him off and cornered him when he stopped to take a dump. He will be on serious restrictions for a while. I will still be taking him to the seminars this weekend but he is basically going to be on a tie down, in his crate or physically with me on leash. So frustrated with him at the moment–I wonder if he ever will want to be with me (hell, not just me, it could be anyone he lives with) more than run off like a wild animal…?

Anyways, that’s all for our trial budget for the summer, I’ll have plenty of time to plan next steps while we avoid the heat and work on our contacts. Will report back after the seminars next week!


Dog Agility Blog Action Day; Attitude

I missed the last DAB day, so I am glad to be catching up this time around.

“Attitude” is a pretty wide open topic, but I have some thoughts from recent goings on that center around this loosely.

Recently I signed up for Susan Garrett’s online Contacts course. I talked to quite a few people before I did it as I wanted to get feedback from others who may have either taken online classes from her or just to get their general opinion. Honestly, most people were less-than-enthusiastic about it. Which is more than fine and everyone whom I asked directly I wanted a genuine opinion from. Many, if not most of them, had valid reasons why they wouldn’t do it, and a few made very valiant cases on why I shouldn’t do it either. 🙂 I appreciated the effort with which some people discussed this with me and that they didn’t want me to spend a bunch of cash only to be disappointed. Regardless, I went with my own gut and based upon what I felt I was lacking in the knowledge department and signed up for the course.

Since then, one person in particular has vehemently been on my case about it. This is someone I definitely respect and whom I have a pretty solid relationship with. She has helped me with Phin and I respect her opinion though I don’t always agree. She has been in agility for quite some time and has quite a bit of trialing as well as teaching experience. What really got her to unleash on me about it was me asking to borrow Susan Garrett’s “Ruff Love” book. I am curious to read it for myself as it seems to advise some fairly outrageous, not to mention outdated, methods for training “unruly” dogs. Some people on the course’s online forums had mentioned some things here and there and I wanted to read them for myself instead of rely on third hand info to make a decision.

She handed me the book last week, and then just went off on me. Raising her voice—borderline screaming—and telling me that SG is a horrible person, that her methods were abhorrent and that there was nothing in this online contacts course that I couldnt learn on my own. I was fairly shocked at her level of anger. I truly do believe that her anger is not at me, but I was still taken aback. All I could say to her was that I just wanted to read the book to be able to make an educated decision on my own. She stormed off and we left it at that.

How this all relates to attitude? I guess mainly my gist is that I am (slowly) learning not to be so judgmental with other people’s methods, assuming they don’t physically or psychologically hurt the dog (which in specific regards to some of the Ruff Love advice I do believe some things go above and beyond what can be considered “humane”). In general, I like to educate myself about as many ideas and ways of training as possible so that I can have a wide range of ideas to pull from. That doesn’t mean I am going to use it all, on the contrary the more educated I am about something I don’t agree with, the better I may able to argue against it. But, I want to remain open to why someone else may do something differently, and hear their reasons, instead of just instantly shutting a person or idea down immediately. We all have reasons for what we do, and we all do what we, at least at that time, think is best. And, if we choose the wrong path and make mistakes, we learn from them. As long as no one gets damaged in the process, we still come out ahead by progressing thanks to our mistakes.

On another tangent/note; remaining open to ideas means I will not say “I can’t do that,” “my dog won’t do that,” or “he always does this/that/the other thing and that’s just not going to work for us.” I watch people bang their heads against the wall over and over and over on the same problems because they aren’t really willing to try something different. And I dont mean just “different”, I mean if its really NOT working, maybe you really need to go outside of the box and/or just completely start over. Start lines come to mind immediately on this one. We all have issues to work through, I have plenty. And I get stuck in my own myopic feedback loop as well. But I am willing to try and I want to learn more and do better. That’s why I signed up for the Say Yes course; it was a risk, but it was an option that appeared at the right time, and I took the leap. If it ends up being a massive failure, I still will have gotten something out of it. Like a hole in the my bank account… Kidding.

Honestly, so far I am thrilled with the course and already am sure a few weeks into it that I will be getting my money’s worth. I hope that it can help me have spectacular contacts, but more importantly it already has given me a ton of fun things to work on with my dogs—and we havent even touched the equipment yet. Forest has been loving the shaping work and it has helped him and I find new motivation for working together, even if its away from the agility field. Phin and I are uncovering some big foundational holes that I was oblivious to, so that has been great to have a set of guidelines to help me along. With both dogs honestly, I have been doing a lot of this stuff blind, and having somewhere to ask questions and get pretty immediate and succinct answers has been pretty awesome.

At the end of the course, at the end of the day, I have learned to do what I believe is right for me and my dogs, right now. And I will keep doing that, over and over, as we all grow and evolve.

We will be carrying on, with more updates and chatter on the online course sometime soon.

The Beast’s first official trial is next weekend—I am so excited I can barely contain myself. Hope to have lots of pics and updates this time next week.