We had a good agility year. My personal life, not so good. I thank the universe every day for these silly dogs, they honestly are what kept me from going off the deep end over the past 12 months.
So, goals. I have learned that setting goals really works for me. I mostly enjoy doing it, and when I sit down and review what we’ve done and achieved, it makes me more positive about agility in general. This has a been a big year for me in learning how to organize myself and my life, and goal setting has been a big part of it.
A word of caution; This post won’t be very fun to read, so I’m telling you now—click away while you can and spend your time being better entertained elsewhere!!! 🙂
I’m reviewing where our goals for 2013 ended up and setting them for 2014.
– finish his AAD title. – Accomplished! We finally got that dastardly pairs leg out of the way. Since then we’ve done no USDAA titling stuff, but no biggie. USDAA isnt a priority for Forest. He’s definitely become more of an AKC kid. 2, maybe 3 runs per day, is perfect for him. Any more is pushing it, not to mention USDAA is more just mentally challenging overall. Forest prefers to keep things straightforward and predictable, thank you very much!
– continue to train his contacts, provide better and clearer criteria – mmmm yeah. I could say I did a half-assed job at this goal. He doesnt like to drill, and I dont like to beg him to do stuff. We did do some contacts training this year, but it was anything but consistent. I will give myself credit in one dept–the teeter is still slow, but, we played with it and it is getting slightly better. As I said last year, his contacts are what they are, and if he misses, he misses. Just part of what I accept with him. This year, it wasnt a huge issue, so I’m content with where we are.
– move him into AKC Preferred, work towards our MJP, MXP – Accomplished! Yeah! Moving him into Preferred was one of the best decisions I’ve made for Forest agility-wise. He is happier and far more confident, aka much, much faster! He still only typically runs in 3rd gear (he HAS 6, but I’ve only gotten up to 4, occasionally, in agility), but he is much happier, and I love love love seeing him enjoy himself. And we achieved both MXP and MJP within only a few weeks of each other. Pretty cool!
– get his CAA (Coursing Ability Advanced) title – this was the only major miss, as I honestly dont think I got him to a single titling coursing event, but… He doesnt know that. We did a couple of “fun” events, and he was happy so thats enough for him.
– Also a “sneaky goal” I had once we got going though I never made it official, was to qualify for 2014 AKC Nationals. We DID it. I was so proud. We won’t be going to Pennsylvania, which is fine–the point was simply that we could do it. Awesome.
– qualify for Cynosport 2014 – the caveat on this is only if its easy. We are not going to push it.
– our “reach” goal is to qualify for 2015 AKC Nationals. Not that I have any doubts about his ability to do it—its more our ability to trial consistently enough with the inevitable chaos of starting the business. Even if Forest does qualify for 2015, I am on the fence for whether or not I’d take him. If Phin makes it, I’d definitely consider it as I think that would make Forest more at ease. But…. We’ll see.
– continue keeping him happy and fit – can always do better with this, but its been a good year in general for him health-wise and we’ve had regular visits to the chiropractor who never finds anything out of the ordinary with him. He has been developing some benign skin bumps, so we are battling with that a bit but nothing that slows him down!
– train more tricks – Forest loves tricks. No stress, no equipment or freaky mom stuff, just training and doing silly stuff. I will train 5 NEW tricks and have them on cue by year end. (disclaimer–I dont really care for pointless tricks, but I should!!!)
– working on the basics — Impulse control, stimulus control. – Yep. We did a LOT of basics work, and have a lot more to do. When I get lazy about dragging equipment out or driving to do contacts, we just go in the backyard and work on basics. Currently stimulus control is a focus. I am hunkering down and making it happen.
– continue to train and reinforce contacts and weaves – Yep. Weaves are fast enough and very reliable right now for the most part. Contacts… Ugh. Contacts are clearly my weakest point as anyone who had read this blog for any period of time knows. His teeter is good–a solid B. Aframe actually is getting pretty solid–I’d give it a B- at this point. He was missing the AF frequently earlier in the year in trials, but its gotten WAY better. Only a few misses in recent trial history. Dogwalk… In trials?? a C-. Fine in practice but in trials it could go any which way. He doesnt usually bail, but will just run through it. Contacts are the bane of my existence. But, I will say my dogs don’t creep!!! They run, with zeal. Whether they miss or not, well thats another story. 🙂
– get into all Masters AKC by year end. – Accomplished! Yeah! – We may have eeked this one out, but we did it! STD is going to be our tough road (see above notes on contacts), but his JWW has been phenomenal since we got into Masters. Really, really happy with that. Q rate has been really high, couldn’t be happier.
– USDAA Tournament classes – we played with this a bit. Success was not really there until late in the year, but, thats okay. We have many more years ahead. We have 1 Steeplechase Q and 1 MC Jumpers Q. And our DAM Q! So, if I can pick up a couple more we’ll be golden for Cynosport 2014. I’d love to get a GP Q or two, and we came really close a month or two ago. We can do it!
– contacts contacts contacts – more precise, more reliable. Thats enough about that.
– retrain his startline – His startline isnt horrible, in the fact that he doesnt self-release and go flying by me–he knows better than that. BUT, he creeps more often than not. Badly. All the way up to the first jump. He doesnt usually knock the bar, but it slows him down and we need every tenth and hundredth of a second we can get. So. Startline rehab has already begun. By year end I want it to be rock solid. I am not afraid to pull him for it–I did it earlier this week and got a bunch of people asking me why. They didnt see the scootching as an issue, but I do!!!
– qualify for 2014 Cynosport – we are halfway there. This is doable, even with my limited schedule. We got DAM out of the way and that was the biggie. Plus my kick ass team wants to team again at Regionals, so that is awesome!
– qualify for 2015 AKC Natls – this is going to be a reach, but I really, really want to go to Reno with Phin. How we’ll manage, not so sure, just due to the sheer volume of points needed and my time and $$$ shortage… We are off to a decent start, been knocking out points with our JWW Qs. If I can get him to settle down in Standard, and we can get to a decent amount of trials, maybe we’ll have a crack at it. I calculated our points so far–in the month of December we only trialed 4 days. We got 4 Qs (all in JWW—heh) and 64 points. If we can keep up that pace, we should make it. Problem is that pace will be very difficult to maintain. And I already more or less blew the month of January as I forgot to enter the mid-month trial! Gah. That’s okay, we can rest and work on other stuff. Like maybe our remaining USDAA Qs!
– stay fit, happy and healthy — this basically remains D’s goal. He is finaly showing his age a bit. He has slowed down significantly on our hikes. I never used to have to wait for him, now he needs help, especially if its warm out. He freaked me out more than once this year–rushed him to the vet to find nothing… Augh. This dog is so hard on my bank account. He is a little bastard but we still love him. He looks good and still motors around and tells everyone what for with no problem, so I try not to worry about him too much.
– seminars — I did a better job this year of sticking with basically one key instructor, and man, did it work. The only place I really get instruction from is Daisy when I get the chance to see her, which is supplemented by “input” from my weekly and other training partners. But things really clicked this year, at least handling-wise, and I am really proud of how far we’ve progressed. We dabbled in a bit of International waters, but it was for fun and I try not to get too many ideas swirling around in my brain. I’ve picked a loose system and its working great. Just need help fine-tuning it!
– find more agility and performance training mentors/organize a monthly or bi-monthly gettogether of favorite handlers/friends – I did this! I found a wonderful group to practice with weekly as well as other friends to practice with relatively regularly and they are AWESOME! We do hard stuff and push each other and have a really great time. I have been proud to notice that at the last few trials–both USDAA and AKC that I have been at with my group that many of the top placements have been us! Pretty cool stuff. Going into 2014 I will have to force myself to schedule time to make it out to practice to keep things moving!
– stay positive, calm and collected, regardless of what is going on around me – I have to say again I feel like I did a pretty good job at this despite the amount of personal shit that hit the fan this year. Actually precisely because of that, I had no choice BUT to deal. It was either that or spiral down into the abyss. So, I chose the positive path. I have been working on some conditioned cues–both mental and physical–for when I start spiraling and I have been able to start to use some of those when I am stepping to the line as well. I took the Clear Mind online course and am so glad I did. It was hugely helpful in many ways. This years biggest challenge will be balancing my agility goals with working on my business. But, I can do it. 🙂
Jeez. That’s enough! Onward to 2014!!!