In Review, and Looking Forward

Here we are again. We spent a quiet but nice New Years Eve and day at home with a friend and of course the dogs. We are mostly rested and ready to get on with 2013.

I started writing out my goals for all the dogs at this time last year, and even managed to do a status check mid-year. I have to say I do think it has helped, or maybe I’ve just been lucky in achieving the majority of them. Either way, I felt it was definitely a worthwhile exercise and so I’m doing it again.

In brief reflection, I am incredibly happy with how our 2012 went agility-wise. Forest laid down the fastest and most beautiful run we ever had together a month or two ago (SO upset I did not get it on video, but I can relive it in my mind!), and by the fall was just Mr. Consistent in general. So thrilled with him. I think removing the pressure off of him, more consistency in handling from me, and maybe a little extra motivation to compete for time and attention didnt hurt. Phineas, as anyone who ever has read this blog in the last year knows, is perfect. To me anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I could not be happier with this dog.

On to the goals.

– finish his AAD title, move up into all Masters — this was the only goal we didnt make this year, and sadly, we are at the exact same place we were at last January. But, we tried, and the pairs curse hopefully will be lifted soon.
– continue to train his contacts, provide better and clearer criteria — contact success is still occasionally dicey, though they have gotten more consistent in general. To be honest, I am okay with where they are at. I can accept the fact that I never trained them properly from the beginning, and at this point Forest and I are in it for fun. If he has a great run and misses a contact, well, we still had a fun run and there’s no way I’m going to drill him on anything really from here on out.
– move him into AKC Preferred, work towards our MJP, MXP and PAX — ever since we got over the monumental hill that was our AX, its been really smooth sailing. I am a bad mom and failed to mention earlier this month that he got his first official double Q! Such a good boy and so proud of how easy he is to run these days. We actually have quite a few legs and points in Masters/Ex B, but, he seems happy and faster at 12″, so we’re throwing those out and starting a new.
– as always the biggest priority is keeping him happy and fit — he seems to really enjoy just cruising these days. We don’t do much agility training at all and he honestly seems to like it that way. As long as I can keep him fit enough to run one weekend every 4-6 weeks, we’ll all be in good shape.
– lastly, get his CAA (Coursing Ability Advanced) title — he got his CA, now needs quite a few more legs to get the next title. Only hitch with this is getting him to the events, and again, making sure he is in the proper shape to run them.
Overall, I am happy with the Bun. He is easy and generally well-behaved these days and seems pretty content with his life.

– again, keep working on the basics — I have no shortage of things to train with him, but we still always need to revisit the basics. Impulse control, and body awareness are my personal favorites. But what I really need to work is stimulus control, and responding to cues instead of flinging himself about madly when there is a potential reward present. Mainly this is a shaping/clicker-training-related issue, and really my weakness–I am not so good with stimulus control. Icky but necessary.
– continue to train and reinforce contacts and weaves — honestly all of this has been going really well. His contacts at our last trial were perfect (I think we only ran one day, but still!). His weaves have gotten much better and I’ve at least finally been able to set those up in the back yard for some practice. Need to up the ante on contacts angles and releases, but really, zero real issues in that department. Onward.
– get into all Masters AKC by year end. I thought that we’d be able to get into Excellent JWW by year end, I was wrong. We have struggled in JWW, early on due to crazies and bars, now more recently due to crazies and off-courses. But, its just baby dog excitement. What I did not anticipate was him moving SO quickly into Excellent Standard! He still hasn’t run it, but we’ve got 4 Open STD Qs and his last two were worthy of a move-up, so thats’s what we’ll be doing in the Spring.
– USDAA Tournament classes — why not? They are fun and more our type of courses. Who knows, maybe we’ll get some Qs and I can make some rash decisions in the fall. Not a priority at all, just for fun.
– 2014/2015 — I have much loftier goals for Phin in the years ahead, but those will emerge later on down the road. For now, just running this dog in practice or in competition is pure joy, and I will do whatever I can to keep it that way.

– stay fit, happy and healthy — this was last years goal, which unfortunately we did not meet. 😦 However, he is looking great and feeling great as far as I can tell now. He’s on supplements and a homemade diet and seems pretty darn good. Again, I’d like to keep it that way so we’ll just keep on keeping on for D!

– seminars — I went a bit seminar crazy this year. While I am glad that I did, it is mostly because its helped me get a better feel for who I really do want to spend that money with and whom I can learn the most efficiently from. I had some phenomenal seminar experiences this year—thank you Daisy and Denise—and some that I will not be repeating again. There are always going to be things I can learn from anyone, no matter whether I agree with them or not, but I’m finding my groove as well as whom I really look up to, and I’ll mostly be sticking with a few key instructors if/when I have the opportunity to work with them. I’m also finally getting confident enough to work a lot of stuff out on my own, so the seminars will be my opportunities more for fine-tuning than means to change my theories.
– continue to learn from my own agility students, enjoy it as much at year end as I do now.
– find more agility and performance training mentors I can speak with regularly and openly about Phin and our training goals and challenges. This was a goal for last year, and I have added some new mentors to my circle.
– try to organize a monthly or bi-monthly gettogether of favorite handlers/friends in my area to run skills and drills with. This is a toughie until it gets light later, but I really, really want to hold myself to this one. Must DO it!
– stay positive, calm and collected, regardless of what is going on around me. Always a challenge for me. 🙂

Happy New Year!