Friday, September 26, 2014

AKC Agility @ Gorden Setter Club of America

I took a vacation day for a mid-week agility trial yesterday.  (Why yes, of course I did!)

I entered Molly in Open: FAST, Standard and JWW.  The results were typical.
FAST went out there strutting our stuff and confident.  We did our dance, earned 64 points and Molly followed my every move and desire.  The Aframe was in the send, 10 feet away and she ran clean down to the bottom.  Our first Open FAST Q!

Standard was an absolute circus.  I slipped up and told her "Easy, easy!" When she got on the dog walk.  I swore I would not micromanage her contacts, but she was shot out of a cannon down that dog walk and I forgot myself.  I firmly believe that was responsible for the stress reactions that followed.  Molly went on a "fault bender".  She blew the dog walk, she blew the Aframe.  She got an off course because I was so far behind her.  She missed her weave entry.  I put her back in and there followed Molly's fastest and best weaves at a trial to this day.  But...then she popped and went into the chute and flew off the side of the teeter.  I have a video, so why am I narrating?  Maybe it helps me feel better about the whole thing.

For the millionth time Molly and I tried for our "title run" in Open JWW.  It was not to be.  We were hanging in there.  The weaves were a crawl.  It is hard to tell in the video, but we had come off of them into the "home stretch".  It almost looks like my shoulders could have been pointed on to the line Molly chose to take.  Out in the actual ring however we were running together and she took a sharp left turn for no reason that I understand into an off course tunnel.  This is behavior that Molly used to do when we were very very green.  She would be running with me and suddenly just "hook" off to the right or left.  I blame it on weave stress.  And "Open Purgatory."  

I have so many question marks in mine and Molly's future.  I love running my big girl.  Love it.  I truly feeling like we are dancing together most of the time.  But stress is leaking into our ring performance.  The contacts.  The weaves.  When they enter the picture things get hairy.  I have given a lot of thought lately to focusing on FAST only with Molly so that we can increase our ring confidence together.  We love FAST.  I enjoy the distance challenges, and Molly is willing to do them.  We are, of course, entered in a handful of trials up until the beginning of November.  We will see.  My largest goal at this point is getting Molly's weave poles generalized to as many locations as I possibly can.

The star of the show was my Perri girl.  This was her first AKC Agility Trial.  And she hit a home run.

The video is her Standard and JWW runs.  Both Qs.  JWW with two refusal faults that I blame entirely on myself, especially the last one.

I feel choked up when I watch the Standard video.  My dog pulling on her leash to get into the tunnel.  Running the dog walk.  Not even noticing the off course jump.  Hopping up onto the Big Dog table even though she has never gotten on one that high (oops.)  Flying through two more tunnels.  Hitting her weave entry and staying in.  Over the broad jump, up 'n over the teeter and through the tire.  There are so many things she did that she used to be afraid of.  Paralyzed with fear to enter the tunnel.  To jump higher than 12".  Too shut down to weave.  The teeter...out of the question.  For my girl to get a clean run in AKC is like a dream come true to me.

Is AKC the epitome of accomplishment for me?  Perri has qualified in CPE and USDAA now, too.   And those milestones meant a lot to me too.  But for some reason, this AKC trial felt like everything was all put together.  It felt like the true test to me.  Refusals were scoreable faults.  The jumps were up to 24".  We had to do All The Things: the big table, all the contact equipment, the weave poles (in three tries or less!), the broad jump.  And Perri did it.  And she did it Clean.

After I rushed Perri into Novice Obedience, I got shy.  I would never rush my dog again, I swore it.  And I took it slow with Perri.  We started training for agility in January 2013.  I fought with her fearfulness, her issues, her pace during all of that time.  Entering Perri in a CPE trial in May of 2014 felt risky.  It felt like I shouldn't do it.  I was desperate to help her build confidence.   Somehow, doing rally trials helped Ein's confidence and fear.  I wanted to see if this could happen for Perri.  And since Memorial Day, I have seen a side of Perri in the agility ring that I never saw before.  Yes, we have had some set backs, some shut downs.  But they have been very few and far between.  I have a fast, happy and driven worker in the ring.  I have a dog who loves agility.  Somehow.  "Someday".  And when is it all going to end?  

I feel absolutely wrong looking forwards to our next AKC Trial date in mid-October.  Perri is entered both days.  She could get AKC Agility titles.  Could.  And that is really exciting for me.  And I feel like I shouldn't expect that, shouldn't "care about that."  No pressure.  I am pinching myself, wondering if this could really be real...that my girl loves running agility with me well enough to Qualify and work towards Agility Goals.  Time will tell.

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