Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trial Countdown, T-Minus 3 Days. EEEEK!

So let's flashback to Saturday.  Molly and I went to a nested agility course at the K-9 Gym.  I was completely unprepared for the mad zoomies, the complete lack of focus, and her total appearance of having absolutely NO idea what agility equipment is.

It has not made me feel confident for this weekend's trials, that is for sure!  Molly and I are as green as a handler and dog get.  I make up for it with determination and love of the sport. Molly makes up for it with her passion for being in perpetual motion and getting treats for doing so.

Agility Jump, "Nature Style".

I signed up for the open gym because I felt that it was important for both Molly and I to see what it was like to play agility away from our normal training center.  And I was right.  A lot of our issues followed us there, and a lot of our issues became clearer to me.

My biggest issue is remembering courses.  My training center has been throwing some not-anywhere-near-novice courses our way and that has worsened the problem.  On our first run through the nested course on Saturday, I remembered obstacles 1-3.  I forgot the rest and got lost.  Molly zoomed around me, took a random jump and knocked a bar. (Surprisingly, VERY rare for her.)  I stepped on my shoelace, untied my shoe and felt completely forlorn.
If at first you don't succeed...
Solution? Well, I don't know.  I don't have a good brain for remembering.  But I do have Google. 
I found some suggestions and here were my favorites: break the course up into smaller portions.  Walk the course backwards.  
Breaking the course into smaller portions makes a lot of sense to me.  Instead of One Big Course, I can definitely make sense of the course better if I break it down into little mini obstacles.  
I will be certain to try my best to follow that advice this weekend.

Molly's biggest issue is focus.
When Molly gets onto an agility course, she is HAPPY to be there.  And if Molly has just been brought fresh out of the car or a crate onto that agility course?  You can bet the farm that she is going for a joy ride before anything else.  And that was exactly what happened on Saturday.  Molly is a crate-screamer (hey, we are working on it!) and I wanted to keep her in my car until it was run-time.  So I brought her fresh off of our commute to the gym, right onto an agility course with a row of people sitting 2 feet from the first obstacle and THOUGHT that we were going to run agility.  SURELY YOU JEST.
Solution?  Molly needs plenty of focus-work, tug toy time, or obedience type exercises (to center her) before "Take Off".  If I ever thought that that was unnecessary, that time is past.  We will have plenty of time for those things at this weekend's trial, and I hope to have a positive experience.

Those aren't our only issues by a long shot.  We suffer from many.  We are not "trial-ready".  But we are trial willing.  I am trying my best to not focus on the fact that we COULD earn two CPE Titles this weekend.  I am trying instead to focus on learning my way around an agility trial.  Keeping my dog quiet in her crate between runs.  Enjoying and learning from the wonderful novice and at-our-level courses that we will be running as well as all of the CPE-savvy people that we will spend our weekend with.  And knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that Molly's tail will be wagging the entire time, no matter what.

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