Saturday, December 28, 2013

DTCCC Agility Fun Run

It must be Agility Sensitivity Month for me.  I took Molly and Perri to our club's December fun run and was feeling pretty raw on the way home with the following thoughts on the repeat cycle in my brain.

"Why do I suck so much at agility?"

"Why can't I EVER remember to decelerate?"

"Why is my dog afraid of freaking everything?"

"Why don't I just give up?"

"Maybe Molly is sick."

"Why do I confuse Molly, I am a horrible partner!"

"Why can't I ever ever get a clean run without doing something stupid?"

"It looks like i never ever even trained Perri to do anything."

"I am not a natural dog handler and I will never ever be able to do this properly."

This is all just stupid.  STUPID!  I am my worst critic, so hard on myself.  But I feel like I deserve it almost all of the time.  Agility is so difficult for me and yet I love it so much.  I feel like if I ever fix anything on Molly or in my own brain, forty other things go wrong.  So, enough of my whining and here is the course map.

I did the Novice course (blue numbers) first with Molly.  
We started this off great with a jump run out.  Probably my fault in some way but I don't know how.  
I set her back up and gave myself more distance and (I think) got running sooner.  
Pretty sure she blew her contact. 
No weave pole entry. (Infuriatingly, I am leaning back to look at her and that pushes her back further.  I cannot get myself to stop doing this.)  
Then she didn't get the discrimination and took the dog walk instead of the tunnel - I pushed her out that way though, I should have cued this better.  It was really hard for me to then get around the dog walk and out by the tunnel - you can see I was late.
The rest was okay... Jump, teeter.  I like the tire and serpentine jump action and rear cross on the dog walk.  She went into the tunnel okay but again, I was late getting to her.  By now she was getting frustrated with me and gave me a little nip to tell me so.

We had extra time left so I wanted to go over to the Aframe.  We did some (very fast!) weaves on the way there.  She skipped some the first time in so I restarted her and she did them really well and FAST.  Then I did some treat ball rolls down the Aframe before our buzzer went off.  I am SO angry at myself for throwing her treat ball to her AFTER she freaking blew the contact.  This is what I am talking about.  WHY does my brain do things like this?!  That was the exact opposite of what I was trying to teach her.  

Molly (Novice)

I wanted to give the Open course a try, so we did.  
This starts off just fantastic again with Molly running behind me and taking the dog walk.  Our instructor says it was "in her path" and again I just don't understand that.  Something about Molly's line and where she landed out of the tire but I don't know how I could have done this differently.  Or, maybe she was joking.  I am not sure.
So, we set back up and got it right this first time and she did a send to the tunnel with our "Out" command!  I was very nervous to use it because I didn't want to look stupid (this is idiotic and I know it.), but it really is time for me to get started working this into courses.
Did not get the weave entry again.  I did better with my feet and shoulders this time.  And I tried to slow down and show her the tunnel entrance better but it caused her to pop out of the weaves.  This is simply because Molly is not trained on her weave poles well enough.  She cannot do them independent of me, so if I pull off she will pull off with me.  Nothing to do with this but continue training them.
This time I tried something different.  Running on the opposite side of the dog walk and sending.  Worth a try, right?
The "out" didn't work the first time out of the tunnel.  But after I put her back into the tunnel and told her Out Jump SHE DID IT.  I should have sent her back to the teeter but I just kept running and she went up it.
So, she takes the tire then.  I am not sure if I pushed her into that, it looks to me like I turned enough but who knows.  And to be fair, she took it last time RIGHT?  That is a typical "Molly Move" so I am really  not sure whose oops that was.
So we went back to the teeter and got it right.  She did her Aframe contact without being babied.  She runs off of it straight (I should have used my "outside" hand to cue her into the tunnel.  I really need to teach her "Back Tunnel".  It is common on agility courses to have to turn to the right or left into a tunnel right off of the Aframe or dogwalk.)
Back in and I forget to decelerate approaching the second jump which pushes her out wide (and if there had been an obstacle available for the taking she would have taken it.) but she does come back to the dog walk with me.
I tried to send her to the jump and it didn't work.  "Out" command just needs more training.

Molly (Open)

I tried the Open course one more time.  
This time we got the opening three obstacles (she did NOT go for the dog walk) but she didn't send to the tunnel.  Our instructor said my feet were in the wrong direction and I should have pushed more at the tunnel.  But...she sent last time.  Sad.
I set her up again and tried to send her but ended up just running right to the tunnel, then doing the weaves.  She did get her weave entry that time.
She got the tunnel but didn't send and I kind of forget what I ended up doing.
She again didn't get the "back tunnel" after the Aframe.
I decelerated better and got a tighter turn towards the dog walk.  I came over onto the opposite side of the dog walk instead of attempting a send and then we were out of time.
Felt very sad about the entire run and wished I hadn't even done another run with her.  She was slow and acting like she does when she feels like she isn't Right and she Wants To Be Right.  And that just made me feel ever worse because I felt like I let her down.

SO!  Then let's talk about Perri.  What a mess.  Perri was stressed out.  She takes classes here sometimes twice a week but not agility classes.  She has not had an agility class since November (?).  I wasn't sure how things would go with Perri but I was willing to give it a try.  If anything...confidence builder?  

We started off with some tire issues.  You would not think that in every agility class while waiting our turn, I would go into the corner and practice the tire with Perri.
Then you can see Perri doing something that I feel happens to us often.  She drifts around in her anxiety, and I feel so disconnected with her.  She comes out of that tire and is just following me instead of working with me.  But, YAY she takes both 24" jumps without running out and that really is something. (not being sarcastic.  Stopping up at and refusing jumps is/was a major issue for Perri.)
Aframe good!
Weaves...refused!  I was crushed by this and embarrassed.  Oh well, it is what it is.  (Perri acts this way when we do weaves in my yard, but does them perfectly every single time in my garage.)  Nothing to do but keep working on it.
Blue tunnel problems.  I feel so defeated by this.  You see she picks it up after a few toy throws but we always go back to square one.  Always.
Well she comes out, takes the jump and then starts to rock it.  A glimpse of the dog that I will have.  Teeter, tire, serpentine jumps and the dog walk.  And she even does a good back tunnel into the scary blue tunnel!
My instructor said "you can see she has it in her."  I don't know if she was just being nice or if that was the truth, but I hope for the latter.

Perri (Novice)

I tried one more run with Perri.  She refused the tire , did the jumps, did the Aframe.  She refused the weaves.  She went back to square one with the blue tunnel.  She did the teeter.  I think that she did the tire and we did the serpentine tighter this time.  She did the dog walk and then we just fooled around there and refused the blue tunnel some more until our time was up.  Our instructor (she was just there watching/running the fun run but was kind enough to throw pointers our way at times.) said to do something fun with Perri so I did a quick serpentine and jackpotted her with treats and out.
It just all felt like a mess.

So, I think I am making this all worse in my head than it really is.  
I came home and ran Perri through some small handling sequences.  She took our play tunnel in the yard at least ten times, never refused it.  Not once.
She did the weave poles with no hesitation and with passion.
It's really just all a matter of confidence.  I want to work hard on getting her to do the weave poles outside, and hopefully that will translate to doing them at the training club.  I think that regular classes at this place will help her continue to come out of her shell.

Another thing I did today was heeling practice in a not busy area of the parking lot.  There were leaves blowing all around, so that was an intense distraction for Perri (she loves to chase leaves.)
She turned out some gorgeous heeling.  I could see our shadows on the Figure 8 (I am trying not to look at her) and I could see her needle nose pointed straight up at me and it made my heart want to burst.
My friend said gently today that maybe Obedience will be Perri's place to shine.  Not to push me one way or the other, just stating a question that I turn over in my head very often.

My solution to Perri's low confidence is to move full steam ahead in both of these sports.  Obedience and Agility.  I am not ready to make a decision to choose one over the other for Perri just yet, and maybe I never will want to or have to choose.  Agility trialing can wait.  I have my great Molly Dog to enjoy trialing with, and even Einey as well.  We are looking into a brand new year and have already come far from where Perri was at the end of 2012.  I can only imagine where we will be when 2014 ends.

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