Weekend Update — DASH AKC Trial

Another trial under our belt, another weekend of agony and victory. Well ok, neither really, just a lot of mediocre honestly.

The best part was having a trial so close to home; that was really, really nice. Made things a lot more relaxing. Plus, this was the first trial I went to under Laurie’s stewardship, and it was great. Not only to have someone to give feedback, but to feel a little less like my own dingy at sea and a little more part of a supportive group. Also a lot of people came up from SD, so it was a trial with lots of familiar faces.

I really liked one of the judges. I timed a few classes on Saturday—and I was not so hot at it. The Standard class I don’t think I flubbed (plus my scribe was seasoned crusty veteran and a total riot), but when it came to timing FAST, I was a disaster. I will claim that I wasnt the complete reason for the trainwreck that was Open FAST, but lets just say I didnt help the situation either. Thankfully the judge had a sense of humor—she gave me sass, but in a good way. If she hadnt been such a good sport, I would have been completely mortified (instead of just mostly).

Overall, Forest was very good. He still gets in these situations with a ton of stimulation, and his little brain cells start to short out on him. But, he keeps his composure for the most part and at least we are getting through courses without him totally checking out on me—at least these days if I lose him, I can get him back (except for with exceptionally loud gate persons, see below).

Saturday was a long day, between me delivering coffee at 7am and being in the last class of the day—Novice FAST. Our Open STD was first. We had a rough start thanks to me—after sitting through three rounds of Excellent as timer, I still managed to start before they gave me the “Ready”. Dumb ass. They let me reset and start again. I dont remember much about the run except that he nailed his weaves on the first try (Hooray!) and then blew his contact on the Aframe. Thats okay. That is fixable for us if I just pay attention (and we are working on running contacts, so no biggie).

Open JWW was not good. The gate guy is this huge dude who screams/bellows at the top of his lungs. We actually have been around this guy before, but Saturday Forest said “No way Mom. This guy blows.” I could tell he was melting down right before we were going in. Shit. I took him out there, we made it over three jumps with his tail tucked between his legs, and he bolted past the weaves to the opposite end of the arena. He was really, really scared, stood there shaking. I just walked over and picked him up and carried him out. It took him a while to recover from that one. I felt really bad, and if I knew what his triggers were I would be more careful, but they seem pretty random. Or maybe I am just starting to catch on… I guess the two fear meltdowns we’ve had a trials both have been noise-based, so something to watch out for. Laurie also said I did the right thing by getting him out of there and not pushing him in that state. It was good to get some validation on that front too.

I elected to do FAST on Saturday only. Which in hindsight I am glad we did—not only because we got 3rd place and a Q—yay! But, because it gave me the opp to get Forest back in the ring and to fix that bailed contact. He did everything perfectly, including the send—it was Novice, so it was very easy, but I was still proud of him as distance work is not our strong suit. We went under time just about perfectly, but now that I really understand how it works, I’ll probably be more aggressive next time getting more points! So, at least we ended on a high note.

Sunday was fine too. Back into JWW first, and thankfully Mr. Town Crier was nowhere to be seen. The judge however (the one I liked) was standing—with her enormous sun hat and purple “frock” directly in the sightline from the start. He bolted straight to her, gave her a hard stare, then came back to me and we went on. Missed the first weave entry, got it, then somehow missed a fence in a pinwheel (?!?) but it was fluid and I didnt see the point of backtracking so we just went on. Again, I got back up for making the right call so that was good. Laurie did comment though that I forced him into a sit on the start and that she saw him start stressing immediately from it. Interesting, and something I obviously was not aware of.

So, onto Standard Open. I actually do have video of this, will try to sneak it in here shortly. Unfortunately the video misses the first few seconds and our start—I left him in a stand stay, not knowing if he would—but after a violent shaking episode (one of his standard stress quirks) we were off and I even got the tunnel entry I was worried about. I missed a front cross but snuck in a rear instead. Perfect table and both contact obstacles, then the weaves. The video is quite funny—you see him enter, then turn back too quickly and slam himself into that second pole. Even the judge kinda laughed and commented “That pole bit him!” It took a minute to get him rebooted, but he did like a champ, then I flubbed the pinwheel and got him to add in another jump. Then off to glare at the photographer, back on track and a finish. Whew. Somehow we Q’ed with that disaster. Yikes.

Ugh. So, I think our biggest problem at this point is just that we need to do more trials. Get him more used to the chaos, and me more able to concentrate while on course. I think my goal is 10 trials this year–so we have 5 to go. The weather will be cooling down and I think we’ll be able to do it. If I can get into Excellent JWW by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. For some reason Standard is so much more doable for us, probably because we have time to be more thoughtful about everything.

Not sure when our next outing will be, but time to start planning now! At this rate I would not be surprised if our non-Summer reared its annoying head and decided to be hot well into fall, but I hope not. Cool weather makes speedy dogs.

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It Was a Good Morning

We went to bed early last night, like embarrassingly early. As in slept for ten hours early and still was up and at ’em by 7. This meant we had time and energy to go to Pirates Cove to do some burnouts and donuts amongst the debris. I swear, I live next to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the amount of crap that washes up really is a bummer.

What wasn’t a bummer was Forest at full tilt–sighthound spine and limbs at full compression and extension–whiplash turning at my recall and bounding back full speed. It wasn’t the usual wide arc and stop and sniff along the way, it was a “Mom called and here I come right NOW” come. He got a major party and jackpot for that one to say the least. Lets hope it happens again soon! That made my morning.

CU number two tonight. Leaving earlier for sure so we have time to relax and potty and get set up. Planning and stress management go hand in hand. The stress in manifesting itself in evil ways in our house… Pete is still a hot mess but at least made it to the doctor, I came home from travels with a lovely case of the hives. Ick. Today they seem to be wrapping up though. Thats the last of my travels for a while, we are almost out of the woods and back to a normal routine. I hope.

Stressing Low — Travel Aversion?

So I think I’m showing signs of stressing low. I am not eating grass, or wandering around sniffing, but am definitely having my own very special melt downs.

(Pete is in the same boat, but I will spare the gory details and his dignity by not listing the plethora of certainly stress-induced maladies he is currently hosting on his person. His are manifesting physically, mine mentally…)

I was supposed to leave for a work/personal/too hard to explain what the heck it is exactly trip yesterday. A few hours before I started freaking out. I got nauseous and super-cranky. I’d been kinda cranky all day but when it got close to go time I slammed on the breaks. I dont know if I freaked out because I didnt feel good, or vice versa, but all I knew was the last thing I was about to do was get on a plane. (And get a cab to friends house, sleep on couch, then wander around today chatting with a million people but no real game plan.)

So, I rescheduled. I actually like to travel. At least I used to. But not this time. I am still leaving tomorrow AM, but that leg of the trip will be easier. I dunno what my problem is, but I do know it wasnt bad for me to have an extra day to sleep in, and walk the dogs around the peninsula with Pete, and maybe go to the bank and manage some bills.

We’ll be missing agility on Monday since I wont be back until late that night, but CU #2 is on Wednesday. Pete and I worked on some of the focus C/T’ing today with Forest, hopefully he can keep it up while I am gone. He even said he was interested in coming to class with me, which would be great. I think maybe he’s finally feeling a little left out on this whole training of his dog thing! He is coming around to it all, especially since I think he sees the results. Positive reinforcement seems to work on people too.

Meltdown Take 2

It was going so well… and then.

Well as in… we made it down to class last night (which a feat within itself–leave work early, rush home to grab agile gear, toothbrush, athletic-type shoes, frozen dog treats–all while on phone w business partner ignoring real life partner; cram dog into car, jump onto toll road and I-5 South; drop and call back biz partner multiple times; make stop by tenants house to load in 50 lbs of my succulents and pots into car; stop by Mexi restaurant and accidentally order Chimichanga burrito; get to Agilitee, stuff face with deep-fried burrito while getting on athletic shoes, digging out leash and treats, forgetting poo bags; rush into class just on time). Phew. I wonder why my dog(s) may have stress issues…

So, it went really well in the beginning. We were doing a jumpers course. Which seems pretty advanced to me for us being delegated to “Pre-Novice” and all. The first go was reasonable, but the second was chock full of nasty front crosses and I would have predicted that I would have made a total hot mess of the whole thing, yet somehow we pulled it off quite well, front-dizzying crosses and all. Forest was so good, flying along, happy little guy.

Then we got to the course. I’ll spare the details save that we progressively screwed up on more and more obstacles and finally it devolved into him running away from me up the dog walk, or A-frame, and staring blankly at me. Obviously, he is not happy with me.

I am not sure what is going on, but I think its a combo of a few things;

– the stress level is not helping our cause. I need to seriously get a meditation CD or something for the drive down so I am not all wired when we get there. And I need to plan ahead better so I am ready to leave right after work and not rushing around the house like an idiot then jumping into traffic wondering what the hell I am going to eat. Pack my clothes, agility bag, snacks, etc. on Sunday night. Get it together.

– I think what might be happening on the field are two things simultaneously: One, I dont think he likes it when we mess up consecutively. Or maybe I just dont and I telegraph it to him. We get frustrated too easily. Its either gravy or ever-crescendoing disaster. Two, I am not sure if maybe we are rushing into the “whole course” thing… I havent been treating him as much on his contacts, though I have been treating him consistently on the teeter ever since we kinda skipped that whole “here’s how you ride it down all by yourself” part. Regardless, he “Sticks” on any contact obstacle. Does it, well, then stares blankly at me as I try to move him off of it and away to the next obstacle… I havent been treating him after the weaves either–at least as part of the course anyway. During practice I always do.

So, not sure how to handle exactly, but have a few ideas…

– working at home how to “break!” off of sit, down, then contact obstacles

– maybe treating randomly/intermittently during course at class (not sure about this one, need to talk over with trainer). Would treating in between obstacles and/or for moving off of obstacles help or confuse the issue?

– working on relaxing and not stressing during class

– reading Control Unleashed

Or I could just chuck it all out the window and keep slogging away at it. I dunno. I am just tired and I think Forest is too. We will be missing class in a few weeks due to my work travel. Maybe it will be good for him to have a week off instead of me rescheduling. We’ll see how the next two weeks go…

I do need to remember the good parts. Beautiful jumpers, good weaves (all 12!!!), brave teeter. And a good quote I read on the  Levels Group this AM:

“A partnership means that each is aware of what the other needs, not ‘you should keep working for me’.  (If the dog is not ‘in the game’,) the game needs to have its rules changed, so he/she can play it. A game means ‘something you enjoy playing’, I would say. A thought:  Less is more.”

Meditation tapes here we come.

Fun Match Take 2

Yesterday we drove out to BFE again (ie. Riverside) to run our second Fun Match. First time I coerced my sister into being my wingman, this time P was the lucky accomplice. This may sound tacky to some, but we went out before my grandmother’s wake. I felt a little weird, but at the same time, I know she would want us to carry on with our normal lives, so I think I did it in honor of her. Plus I know she would get a kick out of watching me run around like a maniac with my dog, not too dissimilar to our horse shows from many moons ago… The wake was beautiful, by the way.

So, Fun Match went okay, not as good as the first time. The venue is funny. A rinky dink little place with a lot of, um, “stuff” laying around, but a nice agility ring, plus three seperate practice rings in the back, which is cool. Most of the people I have encountered there are very nice, one woman in particular I have seen both times dotes on Forest. Which is nice, it makes me feel a little less alien from the whole scene. Which I might just be okay with staying that way… we’ll see.

So, theyre not exactly speedy at this joint–I guess its not “fun” if someone is barking at people to hurry up, right?–so we only got two runs in before we had to leave. It didnt go that great. Poor Forest. We have had the worst last month or so–between the move and the holidays and my grandmother’s passing, its been utter chaos and not a lot of stability nor training time. I am wondering if my epic stress levels transferred to the feild yesterday.

Our first run was just short of disastrous. We made the first three jumps, then missed the entrance to the tunnel. No biggie–a few tries, got him through, over the broad jump, then a solid, brave teeter–yay!. Missed the weave poles first time, got them on second, got to the table–then the shiz-nit hit the fan. Off the table and to the tire… and HOLY CRAP A FAMILY OF UM VERY NICE LATINO PEOPLE WATCHING THROUGH THE FENCE  AND OH MY GOD TOTAL MEXI MELTDOWN!!! It was at least 3 full minutes–which seemed an eternity–til I could get him through the tire and up the dog walk. The judge (whose place it is) was extremely nice, helping me out and being encouraging, but man, that sucked. He was barking at those people ala bloody murder and I could not get him to focus on me at all. Apparently we need to work on some distraction for distractions cues. So, we sorta worked through it eventually. Made it up the dog walk, through the chute, jump, tunnel, A-frame (he loves him some A-frame, weirdo), and the last two jumps. P was stunned when we got out of the ring… like “Whoa. That was interesting. Why is our dog such a racist? He hates Asian people too.” Ugh.

Second run was better, we ended up going in the 12″ because we had to get a move on and get on the road. Again in the beginning he was a little spacey. Got him over the 3 jumps–missed the tunnel again–but I know that was due to my horrific front cross this time for sure–broad jump, another great teeter, weaves (first time–yeah!), table was good, tire, dog walk, chute, another horrid front cross by me and almost biffed it but he saved me, tunnel, A-frame, jump, yet another spastic horrible (front/rear?/I have no idea) cross and a save by him. I didnt pick up my paper after to see my score but its possible we may have Q’ed on that one?? Not sure if the tunnel was a refusal or not…

So, poor guy. I feel bad for him that he (and Little D) have had to endure all the mayhem of the last two months. Then again, what is it like for dogs that go to trials every weekend? I assume they must adapt to chaos on the weekends eventually… maybe just with stabillity for the rest of the week? Would love to know.

Hopefully the chaos has mostly subsided and we are well on our way to Mellowsville. We sure as heck could all use some down time.