Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deuce's first agility runs

SO EXCITED! Deuce's first agility weekend is in the books! I just showed him in novice Fast, novice Jww and Novice standard for one day. I was really excited to see where we were with our training and if I (and he) could hold his criteria. I am so excited to say that in all of his runs, criteria was met and then some! He actually ran way faster that I thought he would and I actually was out of position a couple of times because of his speed! Apparently, running on dirt is fun for him. I had intially thought he might have issues as we train on grass but I will have to say that it sped him up a bit and thank goodness he didn't get the zoomies!

Our first run of the day was Novice FAST and I was just planning a big loop and out till Lori got ahold of me and asked why not go for it and get all the points i could get. I love her for pushing me out of my comfort zone all the time as the plan she came up with was awesome. He held his stay for me to get into position and release him with an "okay" and then it was on! We even did a threadle in part of the course so that he had a better line to the send. The send was pretty easy, jump and tunnel and then we had a big sprint passed a few obstacles to get the teeter. He did want to duck behind me but I kept him beside me (good snooker practice) and he had an amazing teeter contact. I wanted to make sure he got praise on every contact so after he did his "toes", he got a "good boy" before his release. The funniest part was the first time he did the a-frame. For whatever reason, he came about half way down the down ramp and stopped. He has never done this in practice so I was a little thrown off by it. The look in his eye was priceless, "can I just forgot about toes mom and blow this?". I told him "wrong, go toes" and he came down into it like ,"urgh, okay". I got to do the a-frame from the other direction at the end and he did a better job of driving down into toes. We didn't get to do the weaves as I had planned since we ate up alot of time waiting for him to come down into toes and telling him what a good boy he was on every contact (three contacts practiced YEAH). I was so proud of him after this run!!!! He got tons of cookies and lots of praise. He ended up with a Q and a third place, but I am more happy about criteria being met.

Our second run of the day was jumpers. We were the first 20 inch dog in all runs so I had tons of time to work on start line routine while they were setting the course. He seems so far to not get nervous at all and keeps calm, although wants to be doing something while he is waiting rather than just sitting and watching. I have a warm up routine in place for him now and I am pleased with it. Again, he let me lead out a few jumps and then get into place, take a deep breath and then release him. What I am super proud about this run is not only his lead out, but he hit the weaves going a 100 mph and managed to collect nicely and stay in them. He didn't read one of my front crosses (he was looking at an off course jump) so I held position, made him come into my hand and then we went on. He ended up knocking a bar but I didn't care! He was running fast and listening and again our criteria was met!!!!!!

Our final run of the day was standard. I was excited to see his dog walk contact and again to get to do a multiple jump lead out. Again, we were the first dog in 20 inch so he got to set up and get released and set up again before we had to start. I was very proud of the tunnel to the a-frame line. The end of the tunnel shot them out past the a-frame so you had to get their head and make sure that they came onto the a-frame nicely and we connected and he had a great approach to the a-frame. Again, a great contact and then out of a curved tunnel into the weaves, which he hit with great speed and then collection. Unfortunatley, after the weaves, there was a push out to the tire jump and then back to the dog walk and he locked in on the dog walk and almost got to it before i got him back. He back jumped the tire but then got going again. A baby bobble, I think more a michelle bobble as I wasn't anticipating him being out of the weaves so fast. I need to practice more on 6 poles because he can just about beat me out every time! He had a great dog walk contact and then the table which he did very well. Next a chute to the teeter and then three jumps out. For whatever reason, he knocked the bar after the teeter but I didn't care. He actually got ahead of me on the ending line and when I said "turn, jump", he didn't read it or hear me or whatever, and turned the wrong way and then back jumped the last jump. Again, I didn't care, he was fast and I just have to learn how to steer from behind some! I am not the best rear crosser in the world, I prefer fronts so I am going to have to solidify a new skill.

All in all, super proud of my baby! He showed me moments of brilliance, he met all of my criteria, and he showed me what we need to work on. We are entered for two days in Tulsa so I am super excited to see what he can do in two days. I am hoping we have a mild winter so we can continue class and practice because I can see what he needs to work on and what I need to work on. I will try to post the video here tonight! I have to tell you, it is thrilling to walk to the line and not worry about anything. Will he stay, will he get that weave pole entry, will he get his contacts are not even a thought in my mind. I feel like for the first time in my life, I am proactively handling versus reactively handling. Miller has skills, dont' get me wrong, but not the foundation that Deuce has. I am also able to let go of the Q now and see how important holding criteria is. It took me almost four years to get Miller's MACH and it was simply because I would not hold onto criteria. I see the importance of rewarding good behavior at the novice stage versus trying to rush through the course, ditch criteria and just get the Q. I can see the big picture FINALLY and I can see how I need to be selective now versus later. Will that win me ribbons, probably not but when the ribbon chasers are falling apart in open and excellent, I hope our strong foudation will take us onward and upward. I am so excited for the future and what it holds!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T minus 2 days!

I am getting so excited for Deuce's debut into the world of showing in agility! Looks like the FAST class will be our first class, which I am glad for so we can have fun and just go out there and work obstacles and not really worry about a course per se. I will design something very flowing and nice for baby dogs and have FUN! I have already started working on a video montage of baby pictures that I can then embed the videos of him running throughout. Even if it is a full out zoom fest, I am going to put it in! After all, he is a baby and baby brains crop up at any time. I guess the feeling I have with Deuce is super excitment and confidence. I know we have prepared him for this and I know we have the foundation skills to handle what may come. I know that he won't be perfect and it will be some time before he will be, but I don't expect perfection. What I do expect is team work from him and from me, criteria to be maintained, and above all else FUN! Will I be nervous, probably so, but I am hoping that because I know he has the skill set I have trained him to have, those nerves will be alot less. I just read one of Susan Garrett's blogs about confidence in your dog and how we are so silly to step to the line and not have confidence in our dogs. It really hit home for me, especially with Miller. Why do I ever think he can't do something? Well,I am hoping that I can change that mental picture with Deuce. I am sure we still have holes to fill, still have places where we can improve and work harder, but he has the foundation layed that none of my other dogs had coming into their first show. I think for years, for me, it was all about just getting around a course, not so much thinking, what does the dog see, what is the correct line? Miller is an honest dog so I could get away with this viewpoint. Despite me, he can run a course and run it clean. With Deuce, I want to really finesse the handling of the course, the setting of the best most efficient lines (and safest), the running of the course not necessarily to Q but to run it the best I can.

Anyway, I am excited for the future and videos are to come!