Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Woe is Me! Or, Isn't This Supposed To Be Fun?

Last Wednesday, I started "Fundamentals for Open" class, and the 3 weeks before that we attended the "Intro to Retrieve" class.  Perri's progress has been good in some ways, but in others I feel a little in over our heads.  I tend to overthink everything, by the way.

Intro to Retrieve was great but I am having a terrible time in getting Perri to progress past a short hold on the dumbbell.   I recently ordered a new dumbbell for her - this one will fit her mouth much better and it will be wooden and lighter.  The current dumbbell is an inch too wide and Perri does not seem to like the feel of the plastic in her mouth.  When my instructor presented her with a wooden dumbbell, Perri would not stop latching onto it.   So, waiting for that to arrive in the mail and in the meantime I am feeling defeated by our lack of progress.  (I know, it is not a race.)   Perri has so much fun working when she is feeling confident, but when she retreats into her shell it makes me feel sad.

The drowning-feeling continued at last week's class.  We all introduced ourselves and I admitted Perri's Novice NQs and her lack of confidence.  The instructor told me that this class might be overfacing Perri and I felt a bit discouraged by that.   However, this is me reminding myself, I am not taking this class to come roaring out of it having mastered and perfected all that is being taught.  This is my dog and I learning new things at our own pace.  This is me being taught how to teach my dog.  This is picking and choosing what Perri is capable of learning right now.  I learned with Ein, confidence is built in the tiniest of increments.  Confidence grows when you don't even know that it is growing.  Perri and I are gonna keep on doing what we can do and that's just that.

All that bravado aside, we covered in class: heeling around a turn, jumping into a heel pattern.   Both things that Perri has trouble with, of course.
We laid the groundwork for the Drop on Recall.  I am to leave Perri in a stay.   Place her target on the ground (Perri is good at nose targeting.  Thank you, agility!) and have her recall to me, touch the target with her nose and down.   Here is where I really did want to run away screaming.   Perri does not have a good Down.  At all.  She has been and still is my most difficult dog to teach the Down cue to.  So that pesky little job of re-teaching Perri "Down" with a new cue?  I really really wish that I had not procrastinated that. ("Down" is oft abused by my husband and everybody else that Perri encounters.)

 We were given instructions to practice all of those things and By The Way, Bring Your Dumbbells To Next Class.    Eek!  You mean the dumbbell that Perri doesn't like or the one that hasn't arrived in the mail yet??  Of course, these are my problems that have left me feeling like once again, I have bitten off more than I can chew.  Why did I procrastinate getting a proper dumbbell??

To make matters worse, I decided to go on my mini vacation and therefore ate up 4/7 of the days available to practice our daunting list of "homework".   Ahhhhhh!  To be fair, I did make several attempts to train Perri at the vacation-cabin, but she was overwhelmed and distracted.  So much for that.  

So imagine my delight when class was cancelled tonight!  A whole extra week to work with Perri!  And truly, since we have been home from vacation-cabin Perri has been very into training.   We are working on "Platz" (our new down cue).  Slow and steady.  Eternally working on our heeling but Perri does seem to have a good step-out with me when we start on a heel pattern.   My dumbbell has still not arrived in the mail but I have every confidence in Max200 that it will arrive with a few days to spare some orientation before next class.  And next week we get to play with the Broad Jump, so that is something to look forwards too!

So, I just need to calm myself down...remember this is at our pace...and enjoy myself.  Right?  RIGHT.

I further took advantage of class being cancelled tonight to schedule Perri's second Therapy Dogs Inc observation visit!  It was a quick one.   Many residents were not interested in a dog this evening.  There were a few that were really happy to see a dog however.  Perri was worried over the elevator again.  She approached the residents with more of a waggy tail this time around, and some residents she would just stand there and allow her whole body to be petted.   One woman had very advanced dementia and did not respond when we asked her if she would like to meet Perri.   She stared off into space.  But when Perri walked over to the bed and laid her head down, the woman's hand immediately reached out and petted Perri gently all over her head and ears.  Another woman, in the hallway, exclaimed "What's that DOG doing in here?" We explained that Perri is a therapy dog and would she like to meet her?  "God, no."   Can't please 'em all!  
One more observation visit and Perri will be official!

And if that isn't enough talking for one post, I am trying my best to groom Ein for the CDSP Obedience trial in November (Perri is entered also.)  We have been concentrating on the Figure 8 heel pattern, because that is Scary.  Heeling in a strange way around Scary People?  I don't know how that will go.  I have also noticed that Ein's fronts are crooked.   In Perri's Retrieve and Open class, we are working on Front position as well.  We bring the dog to front and then reward out of right and left hands.   With Ein, I have only rewarded from the right hand.   The result is that he comes in very crooked, anticipating receiving his reward from my right hand.   So, we are working on that.   I say it's all fun and games with Ein, that I will get what I get with him.  But Ein loves working so much, why not polish his fronts off to be more reliably straight?  After all, I trained him to come into front crooked due to my own ignorance.
Bad Corgi, Good Corgi.

P.S.  Einey will also be getting a dumbbell in the mail!  I really think that Ein would downright enjoy learning a dumbbell retrieve and I am pretty excited to work on that with him.

1 comment:

  1. Switching to a wooden dumbbell was key for us. Pongu did NOT like the white plastic one I bought for him originally, but he was much less sensitive about how the wood felt in his teeth. So that might make a difference for you guys too.

    It's going to be pretty funny when you yell out "PLATZ!" at a trial and everybody's head whips around to see the Schutzhund poodle. ;)