Saturday was Molly's agility day. As ever, high hopes for a Standard Q. She crushed that in quick order with an A-frame flyoff on the second obstacle. The day was very good despite that though! Something very interesting happened. Some time ago, Molly and I were dealing with some severe car anxiety. I bought two packages Pet Naturals Calming Treats on suggestion from a friend. I did not notice much of a difference in her car anxiety, so I had stopped giving them. For months I had the last package in my glove box, with four treats remaining. For some reason, who knows why...I gave all four to Molly on Saturday morning to finish the package off. The package says to give a dog her size two treats, but that it is acceptable to double or triple the dose in times of increased stress. I figured that it wasn't going to hurt her and I wanted to use the treats up.
We had to run Jumpers first. I knew that and I was dreading it. The trial site is dirt footing, and Molly is always extremely high there and especially for her first run. Especially since she was under exercised. I don't prefer to run a numbered course first thing of the day, first run of a trial weekend with a high as a kite, under exercised Molly. A Jackpot type course is much preferable. But...Molly wasn't wild in Jumpers. She was no slouch, she was fast! We had a gorgeous clean run - people were disappointed! That's not what they love about watching Molly! And all day it was that way. Oh she was still fast, she was still Molly! We got a wrong course in Colors because I failed to collect her out of a tunnel ... But she was running with constant focus. We were having one of those golden days. It hit me in the middle of the day when I went to my car and saw the empty treat wrapper stuffed into the compartment of my driver's side door. I had forgotten about it completely.
The car anxiety was extreme stress for Molly. I can understand that the treats wouldn't have helped her completely with that. But could it be that they took the edge off of her environmental stress so that she could focus on my handling better? I ordered some "Composure" and we will be trying that at this weekend's trial for sure. It has been so frustrating for me that Molly is such a good agility dog, but that she is limited by her environmental stress. It seems too good to be true that this could be a game changer for us.
Sunday was Ein's day. My club's double World Cynosport rally trial. This was Ein's first time doing four runs in one day in over a year. I have avoided trying for double Q's towards his ARCHEX at double trials. But he is most comfortable at our club and I thought he might enjoy it. He did! Two more double Qs brings us halfway to our ARCHEX. Both Level 3 courses contained our most dreaded exercise: the directed jump! Ein got a 210 in Level 2 and a 204 in Level 3 (points off for sitting on his moving back up - I blame my handling, I surprised him with the back up mid-heel and hadn't practiced it in quite a while - and for my setting him too close to the jump in the directed jump.) In the second trial Ein got a 208 in Level 2 (He hesitated on a call front - evidence of being a little tired) and a painful 196 in Level 3. I had to double cue him to Stand (3 points off there, and more evidence of tired corgi.), a point lost for something else....and we lost a whopping 10 points on the Retrieve Bonus. I decided to see if Ein would retrieve his dumbbell at the trial. He has been doing really well at home and in some other locations around my home with doing a full retrieve chain. I neglected to remember that there would be a judge standing a few feet from his DB in the ring with him. I sent him twice for the DB and twice he stressed and couldn't pick it up because he kept looking at the judge and worrying about her. The second time he actually inspected the judge briefly by sniffing before I recalled him to front and asked him for a finish. This is information, and I am glad to have it! In retrospect I should have anticipated this, of course. I knew going into it that Ein might not retrieve the DB in the trial environment and that we would lose 10 whole points (rather than 5 if we had gone the "tennis ball route".) It's actually a little bit frightening how quickly you can lose those 15 points in Level 3 - a 196 was cutting it close. But hey, that's part of the fun and the challenge. (For an ARCHEX, your QQs must be scored 195 or better.) Sunday was a reminder that Level 3 can still kick our butts at will, and that we still have some training challenges that we can sharpen up. We will take great joy in enjoying those challenges! (Though the Retrieve bonus kicked our butts, the Call Front Back Up 3 Steps bonus did not - our work there paid off and we earned all 10 points with a nice straight back up. Ha!)
We get to play again this Thursday!