Saturday, May 19, 2012

Practice notes from today

Took the boys to the barn this morning for some practice. Just a few notes...

-Griff really doesn't understand "contact position". If I am I normally am enforcing his contacts, they are great. If I hang back, he won't hit 2 on 2 off position. If I work for lateral distance, he usually stops with all four feet in the yellow but again, not 2 on 2 off. We worked on this some today.
-We worked the jump-aframe-turn tunnel at a distance since it seems to be the most common gamble in Jackpot. Again, contact position was difficult.
-Weaves were really on...of course, he's used to those.
-Getting better at hitting his sit on the table, which we haven't historically done since CPE doesn't require a sit or down or a pause at all on the table.
-Ball is the best reward!

-Worked his teeter-he did several independently, although he still squints his eyes a bit when the teeter bangs.
-he's got nice jump form.
-worked some lead outs-including a reverse flow pivot.
-he still needs lots of work on the "turn" command
-practiced lots of "tire" since he seems to have forgotten how to do it correctly. Tuggy thrown ahead once he was thru helped.
-good weavers!
-worked full height A frame-he finds the contacts hard to stick still on a full height one.

Hopefully I can get Zig into a trial at our barn in July. It'll be interesting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Worst agility trial ever, or why a botched standard run made me cry and consider never running agility again...

There are as of yet no pictures of this trial. However, one highlight, the concept introduced in the photo below, the automatic pancake machine. Now only one minute stands between you and pancakes!

Granted, the concept is currently flawed in that these pancakes aren't any good, but with time and technological advances, there's hope. This was in the hotel we stayed in, along with scary sausage gravy and bad cinnamon rolls. I had a banana.

Anyway, trial in Gold Hill which is about a 5 hour drive, so it meant hotel stays and driving and bad food. It also was a place I'd never trialed in before. The judge I'd trialed under and liked so I had hope that we'd enjoy the courses. We trialed one day in Portland in April and Q'd in 4/5 runs, even though our weaves seemed suddenly to be broken again, so I was hoping for some good runs and some practice before Nationals in June.

After a crappy night's sleep on Friday night, we were at the trial site by 7:15. Fullhouse was first, and other than a bit of a hasty (read, broken) startline stay, seemed like a normal run for us. Q, no problem. Then things went poorly.

Standard 1st round: again plagued with startline stay break. Everything was going ok though, until a late cued teeter caused Griff to jump on IN THE MIDDLE, something that he has never done before. That's an immediate major fault, and NQ for unsafe performance of a contact obstacle. We finished the run, most of which was good, but that stupid teeter baffled me. Yes it was late, but never before would he have tried to execute it in that way, he'd have blown around it and we would have gone back and fixed it. No refusals in CPE, so no harm would have been done in that case.

Standard round 2: start line stay held, smooth first five obstacles. Then, in a tunnel/dog walk discrimination, he bizarrely took the farther tunnel, rather than the easier and cued dog walk. Then, he would not re-cue and take the dog walk. He took the tunnel a total of four times before I finally realized I could not fix the horrible tunnel suck loop he was stuck in, and for the first time ever excused us from the course. So embarrassed.

Jackpot-nice run, couldn't do the gamble. damn distance.

Jumpers- finally, another q. clean run.

The day was definitely complicated by the fact that I got vomit-y between standard and jackpot, puked once, and then was praying I wouldn't have to run off the course to vomit again. Also, we didin't finish our jumpers run until about 8:30 pm, making it an over 13 hr day. I drank sprite and huddled in our hotel bed, once again only sleeping a few hours.

Needless to say, after two badly botched standard runs on Saturday and a very queasy stomach on little sleep, I was not in the best frame for Sunday. First run was a non-trad jackpot that we totally had nailed-until he knocked the last bar. Fucksocks.

It was the standard run that made me seriously consider never trialing again. There's a stupid amount of emotion after multiple bad runs, sleeping in a strange place, hanging out with strangers, and while I didn't expect us to qualify in this run, it was the way it happened that made me lose it. Lots of dogs were getting sucked into the wrong side of tunnels or missing discriminations, which I was pretty sure would happen to us. But, what actually happened was this:

I entered the ring, the gate steward announced us. I repeated Griff's name. The time keeper hit the "ready" button. I put Griffin in a sit-stay, and started to walk to position. Then, the score keeper, for reasons unknown but probably because she hadn't been paying attention, decides she hasn't heard the first two announcements of his name, can't recognize his breed and yells, " who's this? " in a snotty tone. And I, walking out to my position,without thinking, yell his name. Which , of course, makes him think I'm calling him. So he takes the first jump, but I am in no position to direct him to the next obstacle, so he out of confusion takes a (far, far) off course tunnel. And it's NQ right there.

The rest of this course, he executes perfectly. I handle on the fly because I am so rattled, and all of the traps and pitfalls others fell into don't phase him. He gets weave entries, he gets discriminations. But because of that off-course tunnel, the run is void.

Now I am aware that his release word is ok and not his name, but really, when you scream out your dog's name, you can't blame him for hightailing it to you as quick as he can. The stupid score keeper really shouldn't have hit the ok button until the stupid scribe was ready, and the stupid scribe should have been PAYING ATTENTION! And stupid me should have done it differently. Believe me, I will never, ever, leave my dog again until I am sure they know who we are.

After this run, I nearly called it a day. I had vomited, I hadn't slept for two days, we'd just spent too much money and time and things were full of bad. Plus, people kept saying stupid shit that you just don't say to people having a rough trial. I cried like a dork after the run.

Then I took the dogs for some ball and a swim to cool off, we ran two more qualifying runs, and at least finished on a better note.

I have a lot of work to do in this sport. I need to handle better. I need to leave my nerves at the door. I need to WATCH MY DOG at all times. I need to proof more. I need to proof weaves a lot more.

Oh well. Another ironic thing was that I brought my video camera but didn't record any runs since they were going so badly, and that there was a professional video company there who would have sold us our runs for 9$ and yet they were so full of badness that I couldn't bear to buy them. Maybe the photographer got a good shot or two of us? I'd like to imagine a pretty shot of Griffin on an obstacle rather than the bad memories I have of mistakes, so maybe I'll see if I can buy one.