Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Boys - Good Weekend

I love trialing with Baxter.

The ultra competitive people way out of our proverbial agility weight class don't say a lot, but the other people have such nice things to say about my steady little dog, which makes me so happy. We will never be that team on the course with the amazingly fast and crazy dog, but that's okay. We're working on ending up one of those teams that flow around the course and make it look easy. Of course, I hope by then to be able to get our gambles ... and have permanently patched up those holes in our training that have once again become apparent.

This weekend was the Dec 2x4 Agility trial. 

Baxter got another Master Snooker Q, that I am very happy for. We were having a great snooker run, and had "practiced" the #6 obstacle jump, jump, tunnel combo in the opening - so why I lost my mind and almost send him over the wrong side of the second jump, then pushed him way off the jump into empty, time wasting space in the closing is beyond me. I wish had video of the run. As soon as I flubbed up the handling and he stopped, turned and looked at me like WTF lady I think my heart stopped. OMG we needed to finish 7 before the buzzer for enough points!!! I spun around and I don't think I've ever been that frantic on a course before. He pulled it off though, with a couple seconds to spare. Managing to salvage that one merited us some applause, though really, I'd rather get it for a good run without the drama!

We had little issues with his other runs, and a steeplechase that he did very well and still ended up 2 seconds over time but had 2 very nice jumpers runs to finish up the weekend with our Expert Jumpers Bronze title.

Spencer was very good, but ever the sensitive baby dog. Something about the weaves threw him and he kept popping or avoiding. Maybe the wide base without much dirt on it, maybe the different poles, who knows? I thought I had chute issues fixed in the last few days of practice before the trial, but apparently not. However, he continued to do it after the first refusal.

After great days of teeter and chute practice I was hoping he would rock on the only standard run he was entered in (otherwise he just plays the games right now.) Now I'm glad that I went with my initial feeling and just put him in 1.

After the refusal on the chute, which at least wasn't a complete deke around it - we hit the teeter. He had a great teeter, but it dropped fast and the surface was packed, so it slammed into the ground hard and fast, despite that - he held and waited for his release, but the noise and the motion worried him.

Teeter drama (likely over the noise more than anything) carried on through the weaves where I got half-hearted performance at best and then to the dog walk where he bailed half way up. By that time I was worried about my little guy. I spent a lot of time and effort working on the dog walk and having vastly different (run it vs teeter) cues to avoid this very issue. He did take the dog walk the second time, but very hesitant on the way up and I had to stand and encourage it, not just cue it and run. He did it on his own though, which I think speaks volumes to his trust in me and our training.

In hindsight, what I should have done after that teeter hit the ground and he looked worried was to play for a few seconds in the ring, do a couple of decent nose touches if I could get them and play push back and run over a couple obstacles on the way out to stuff him full of cookies and play ball. Scary thing = party!

Standard was our last run of the day on Sat, while Gamblers was our first for Sunday. I went back to my game plan of spending 40 seconds playing with the dog on course and not even worrying about points or the gamble. I just wanted my happy running dog walk performance back.

I needn't have worried. He blasted off of his start line and blew past me standing mostly still at the bottom of the dog walk (to support the performance and prevent another bail off) Did 2 of those and I went for broke to see if we could do the weaves that were plaguing us all trial. After missing them on the first entry he hit it and I had my good weaves back too. We missed on the final gamble, but the run was a success in spite of it! Sometimes I think with sensitive dogs that we as the humans worry a little too much where the dog really doesn't care, as Spencer proved!

Snooker and Jumpers were our last 2 runs of the day, and like Baxter, he nailed em. Little bit of a bobble in Snooker with a tunnel refusal on a bi-directional tunnel, but those aren't faulted in Starter Snooker, so I didn't send to the other tunnel mouth.

Snooker and Jumpers finished off his Starter Games Dog of Canada title! He's not quite sure what that pretty ribbon is for nor why I wanted him to sit with it, but hey, it got him lots of cookies so that's cool! Such a good baby.

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