Come Together

We just finished up the third trial weekend out of the last month. For us, that’s a lot. And as exhausted as I am between that and everything else I have going on, I do have to say all this trialing is helping things really come together for both dogs and I.

Forest is on fire right now! He has made his 12″ Preferred debut and is totally rocking it. We’re 4 for 4 in JWW so far, and while only 1 for 4 in STD, all our misses have been minor–2 weave pops and one DW contact. So overall, I am beyond thrilled with him. We got our first QQ yesterday, and only missed it today by an early weave exit. Whatever. He is racking up the points and Qs and at this rate if I just keep trialing him I have a feeling he will most likely qualify for Nationals. While we wont be going, just that in and of itself is a huge accomplishment for him and I. In so many ways I felt guilty about putting so much focus on Phin–but that has also allowed Forest less pressure as well as forced me to handle both dogs a hell of a lot better. So, he’s a pretty happy camper these days. He is really wiped out this weekend though, I do need to keep on top of keeping him fit to make sure he can stay fast and healthy. If I do a good enough job, maybe by the time AKC Nationals come back out this way we can take a crack at it!

Phin is doing better and better. While our Q rate isnt high, I am gaining more control and am slowly learning how to handle him better. Yesterday was a big highlight day for him as well—he missed Q’ing on a super crunchy Ex STD run just by a hair, one that most other big and fast dogs went down in flames on. In the video below you can hear the audible groan of the crowd when he pops his weaves at 10. Oh well. He is a crowd pleaser that is for sure! Yesterday we had a lovely JWW run (at 6.13YPS!!) which put us down to only 1 more leg needed to get out of Open. I was hoping that would happen today, but alas, my handling caused 2 bars down. But weaves were great and we had no weird off courses—it was smooth if nothing else. On the very bright side, we were having serious weave entry issues at trials until this weekend, and then he proceeded to nail them each and every time. Our DW is still a work in progress (he nails the yellow but thinks stopping is for sissies), and I do need to keep an eye on his start lines as they seem to be eroding a bit, but I have no complaints. Everything is coming along just awesomely.

So happy with my kids, they really are such gifts. Not only are they fun to run agility with, but in general they are easy to have and be around. We are a sea of zen in the crating area of chaos… They do often amaze me.

Lastly, I got to see some of my favorite agility people this weekend and it was especially fun having my friend Carol there to confer with over handling strategies. She is a great trainer (she has qualified for Nationals with not one but two Beagles!!! Anyone who can train a Beagle to do anything besides sniff or eat is a hero in my book), as well as a source of sanity and calm. We met and bonded over the last year at a few Daisy seminars and I will be seeing her again this Thursday when we both audit a Linda Mecklenberg seminar. Looking forward to that, hoping to glean some new details that I can share here for posterity.

Internationalization – “To blind or not to blind” – Or is that really the question?

This quarter’s Dog Agility Blog Action Day topic is “Internationalization.”

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
~ Sven Goran Eriksson

My questions isnt why? As in, “Why should I want to incorporate or train international methods into my skill set?”; but “Why wouldn’t I”?

Maybe some people are content with what is. Not maybe actually, I know many that are. The same old is fine, and anything different is (insert in the blank here:__________) scary/too hard/not for me/not for my dog/etc.

But what all that really leads to is fear if failure.

To be honest, most agility people I surround myself with are NOT content. To be any good at all, even to win the smallest battles in agility, you have to have an almost unhealthy amount of desire. Serious self propulsion. Competitiveness. A constant drive to be better. So why wouldn’t we want to push ourselves? Push harder, to do things you never thought you could do? If the same is getting you the results you want, great. But if its not, why not open up to new methods?

I never would have thought I could do 4 backside push-to-blinds in a row. But I did, as did all my classmates, thanks to Daisy and her willingness to push everyone outside of their comfort zones. Was it easy? Absolutely not—I messed it up many many times. But now knowing I can do that, so many other things seem so much more doable. I try, and I fail, but eventually I get it right. I got it wrong this weekend. So I go back, evaluate, and try again. And when its right, its awesome. Faster, smoother and just more awesome.

I do understand some people’s hesitation in regards to thinking this is just another “fad” that will blow away over time like many other fads before. But this is different I would argue. Its not just a fad, its how many people have been successfully handling their dogs in different parts of the world for many years. It doesn’t mean its better, just that it works for them and it may work for you as well. No different than any handling system—if you learn the skills and how to communicate them correctly and consistently to your dog, it will work as evidenced by the people currently using it. Period.

So why not? Not every bit is going to work for every team, but expanding your toolbox is going to get you further. Maybe even far enough to go compete with those “international” types someday.

Why not?

To read all the opinions on to blind or not to blind, click here.