Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Learning to love NQs - a most successful unsuccessful weekend!

This weekend was an amazing weekend for Molly and I.  We NQd 9 times.  We only qualified in 4/13 runs.  Those stats might make somebody else cringe.  For me, I honestly had not gone into the weekend Q-hungry.  I was looking for something else.  I was looking for lowered stress signals, I was looking for Molly running fast, I was looking for confidence surrounding entry and exit of the weaves and also the Aframe.  I was looking to practice my handling and challenge myself.  I got all of those things!

I am feeling too lazy to scan in and post all of the maps, but I have more than a few fun videos for all Molly fans to watch and enjoy.

We did Wildcard first, followed by Colors.   Wildcard was the first run of the day and she followed me remarkably well - but as you'll see when she comes out of the tunnel, she runs wide and runs out the tire jump and takes an off course over the next (correct) obstacle.  Oh well.

Colors she was still moving fast, yay!  I tried so hard to decel and avoid the tunnel trap that sucked her in, but this was a reminder to me to stop and turn my body dramatically rather than decel and move laterally.  Many dogs may have read what I did, but Molly did not, especially when she is moving that quickly.

Snooker was next and we actually qualified this round!  Not only did we qualify but we made it through the entire closing as well - a rarity!  (We often spend so much time bobbling through our opening that we only make it through the fifth closing obstacle.)   This was our first Level 5 Snooker Q!  It was not terribly smooth, but we made it.

Jackpot was next and a migraine grabbed me.  I had to walk the course and then run it with the kaleidoscope aura flashing in my eyes.   We had a really nice opening grabbing up points (We earned 52 all together, and we would have gotten 87 total points if not for...)
I messed the ending up.  You had to get any three obstacles when the whistle sounded.  Easy peasy.  Or you could try the distance challenge obstacles for a bonus 15 points.  There was a combo jump set, one of those jumps leading into the distance area.  Until the moment I put Molly over the one jump included in that combo, I did not realize that that jump would count as one of my closing obstacle.  I backed away from it like it was a snake, and she read that and took the other jump.  I was really freaked out and thought "I need one more obstacle."  I could not see properly, I was caught off guard because i wasn't thinking properly, and I couldn't think on my feet.  I asked her for one more jump and hit the table.  NQ.  Complete with a "joy sucker" at the exit gate explaining to me what I had done wrong before I even put Molly's leash back on.  I hate joy suckers, and there is a competitor that I see more regularly than I would like filling the role.  Remember, unless you have something nice to say, don't say it at all.  I promise that whatever grand piece of wisdom you think you are handing over -  that person does not need to hear it from your mouth.

We rounded off the day miraculously qualifying Standard Level 4 in a haze of migraine hangover.  I was not at my best, not even at 50% and I felt bad for Molly.  She was patient with me and she kept an eye on me and we ran clean and well under time and we FINISHED LEVEL 4!!!!!!!!!  It is absolutely amazing to me that me and this girl are running all in Level 5 now.

Our C-ATCH is within reach.  My original plan was to go all out, entering every trial possible to finish the C-ATCH at our club's trial this October.  That plan has been revised.  Molly and I will be taking August off to repolish our Aframe, our weave poles, build our confidence.  I want to continue to improve my handling.  I want to learn to not stress when I take Molly into the ring (Just as I don't seem to stress with Perri or Ein.)  And I think a little break is just what the doctor ordered.  I don't have a "finish date goal" for the C-ATCH anymore.  Rather, I have a criteria of performance that I want to see moving forward towards that title goal - for both of us.  And I think that is more important than the letters.   The letters represent a journey to me, and when I look at those letters, I want to remember that journey with fondness...not a haphazard race to the finish line that damages our team qualities for future endeavors.

Moving forward, Saturday!  As if the migraine was not enough on Friday, I felt the beginnings of a scratchy throat on Saturday.

We started with Jackpot again.  I was pretty happy with the opening, a bit shaky though it was.  I love when I tell Molly "out!" towards the double jump and she starts running it out, but then returns zig-zag to it and takes it anyway.   Cute.  Probably hard on the body, though.  And we had a good go of the Gamble, we really did.  You had to send to the far side of the tunnel, keep them running onto the teeter and then a jump.  Then you had to bring them back around for the final jump.  The first three obstacles went great, but when it came time to return to that final jump... I just could not get Molly to do it.  Now, maybe I was not clear enough with Molly but I think the real reason was that she thought that we were done!  How often to we run an entire course, complete with a line straight to her leash and collar but then return back to do another jump?  Never.  I am sure the gamble was designed that way.  And I also think that she may have thought that she did something wrong.  We were five seconds over so we NQd, but if I look back a year ago?  Molly could not even do a Level 1 gamble of four simple obstacles in a straight line, she kept running back to me.  Huge improvement in a year's time.  And I am so proud of her.  And I am proud of myself, because I similarly did not know how to keep my dog out and committed to a distance line.   We still have a lot to learn, but we sure are heading somewhere.

We followed that with a Standard NQ.  Not really a bang up, contact blowin', weave poppin' madhouse NQ , but a simple off course NQ and good teamwork otherwise.  This is me being happy!  I am very pleased with how we dealt with the dog walk.  No shrieks of "Easy!" "Wait a minute!" from me, just calmly asking for the downside behavior.  This judge seems to love putting the wrong tunnel end in a dog's line after the Aframe, and that is what got Molly again!  This is why we need to take time off, with no solid Aframe behavior I have to "baby" the contact and don't have time for actual handling.  Hilariously while I was correcting the jump run out that followed...Molly wanted a redo!  She went back up the Aframe, got the contact, got the correct tunnel end...and then we ran the course properly!  She gets the weave entry (yay!), she does them as sloooooowly as possible (not yay.) and done!

Next was Jumpers - I got lost.  Molly took some off courses.  I tried some distance handling (and failed.)  The end!  It is hard not to feel embarrassed when you try something a little "risky" and fail, but since I am a fairly humble human, I set those feelings aside.  At least I tried!  And getting lost?  Well that is a condition I will probably suffer with for a much longer time.  The only thing I strongly disliked about this run was calling Molly to "HERE!" off of an off course that I was nervous about, way too loudly.  You can see it stressed her out - bad handler!

Wildcard was the last thing of the day.  No video but we qualified!  Since I had NQd all day, and my throat was really hurting, I was feeling totally floppy and stress-less, with no expectations out of the run.  Of course, that is the one that we qualified in!  First Level 5 Wildcard Q!

Sunday I was beginning to feel like a bus hit me.  I was drained from the start, my sinuses were full, my eyes were watering.  I was cursing myself for signing up to leash run in at least three classes!

We started with Jumpers and I tried an even riskier move than the day before!  There was an off course dummy jump after a straight line of four obstacle...recipe for disaster!  You can see in the video what I tried to do.  And it worked!  Only I bumped into the jump standard and knocked the bar.  So clumsy!!  Regardless, the "fancy" move and lead out worked (that off course jump was not even in the picture anymore!)...shame we got an off course tunnel a few obstacles later.  Again - here I must remember STOP. TURN THE BODY.  I want to handle, not talk so much.

Snooker was a failure next with a broken start line stay, dropped Color...followed by that Snooker handler confusion of "can I go on?!" And then the inevitable stressy handling leading to an off course and a whistle blow off.  Oh well!

Colors, Molly was running pretty slow and tired...12th run of the weekend!  We qualified and I actually managed to remember to stop my forward motion and handle her through the last few obstacles.  (Sloooooowest weaves.)

I considered scratching Standard, but I didn't.  We still NQd, but I was happy with quite a few things.  I don't have a video, but we got all of our contact behaviors.  We got a weave entry out of a tunnel and she stayed in!  And not a lot of stress behaviors.

So, not the most successful weekend on paper - but there was so much that I was happy about.  So many moments that made me proud of the team that Molly and I are becoming.  So many learning experiences to move forward with.  28 more Qs needed for the C-ATCH.  CPE Agility Team Championship.  Molly and I are truly becoming a team, every Q and NQ on this crazy ride.


  1. It sounds like you guys had lots of great moments! That C-ATCH will certainly come for you guys!

  2. We really did, she is a complete party girl and that makes every run fun - no matter what :)