We celebrated first with a big birthday cookie from the local dog bakery.
Then we went up to the local training center for the USDAA trial! Ein was pushing down the door wanting to come along, so I brought him with us since I wanted to take him on a short hike for his birthday and it would be helpful to not have to drive back home. I also brought his cake to share with the agility dogs at the trial (Knowing a ton would still be leftover for a dinnertime treat.)
I made the decision to enter Perri in Intro class and FEO. I wanted to be able to take a toy into the ring or have the freedom to work on start line attitude or whatever else I felt could be of value with our time. I have really been analyzing and tackling Perri's issues in the ring and I feel that the start line as well as whatever collar/leash I am removing from her as well as my own behavior are make or break issues. Asking her for stopped or "managed" contacts is an issue - I feel I will need to encourage running contacts for Perri. I need to not care if she flies off of her contacts in the mean time. I do not think it will be a big training project so much as "I'm happy if you just keep running fast on this obstacle." Today's criteria was extension and movement. Today's criteria was "please for the love of all things good and holy, do not stop and stare at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" We achieved this goal!
This is Gamblers! She blows both of her contacts but she is moving at a speed I love and does not stress down when I re-collect her for the gamble. She did play some naughty keep away after I threw her toy down! But she is allowed to do that in class as a reward to her so I couldn't be surprised she did it with a toy at a trial. I was pleased that she did this Gamble as she had to stay on her line a bit away from me and then not run wide around the final jump. I made the decision to leave the ring without her collar and leash, as I new she would continue holding onto her tug toy and stay with me on our way to the crate. Putting on any collar or leash of any kind after a run is very aversive to Perri and I am still brainstorming a work around.
It was quite a wait until Intro Pairs. I gave Perri a chewie to enjoy in her crate and then put her out in the car for the remainder of the time she would be waiting, to recharge. Her energy seemed decreased from what it had been in the morning and it made me anticipate a less motivated run. I tried to be confident and not "think that way." As it turned out, Perri was running very fast, read a rear cross I did beautifully and ran straight out the extension line at the end. Awesome! It was a perfect course for her and I. Am. Thrilled!! Bonus was that our friend Donna accidently threw the baton on the ground along with her leash - I swear Perri used her martian intergalactic mind control powers to will D to do so! She hates that baton since it is clearly used for poodle beating!
We left the trial with enough daylight for a very windy and muddy hike at the local reservoir park. I love windy hikes (muddy? not so much.) and sunset-near-lake hikes. With the wind and the cold, nobody else was in the parking lot so the dogs got to enjoy being off leash on what is normally a very popular trail. So peaceful and so what each dog deserved. Ein was in his glory marking trees and trotting out ahead of me. I am so grateful we could go on a hike for his birthday, it was always one of his favorite things to do.
Great birthday, great agility trial. Beautiful day!