Friday, November 27, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Agility

It seems like about once a year I get philosophical about Teddy's agility career. I evaluate where we are and hope that we have finally turned a corner in our ring performance. There have been a lot of highs and lows over Teddy's 6 years when it comes to agility. I know he enjoys it and I really love it, but we have struggled in our teamwork. So, I will share with you an ultimate low and high that happened only a month apart.

Teddy and I were entered in a USDAA trial at the Memphis Showcase of Dogs. However, it was raining so badly on Friday, that I decided not to run in the rain, and we drove over on Saturday morning. In Teddy's defense, and goodness knows he needed one, it was just about the first cool, crisp weekend that we had. The field conditions were less than ideal after the weeks of endless rain. As you can see in the video, the host club put out shavings to try to firm up the field, but the mud was pretty deep. So, here are the only two runs from the weekend:

Because I did not want a repeat performance (I'm not that big of a glutton for punishment), I scratched from the rest of the weekend. And like any good female, I put my dog in his crate and went inside the main building and shopped. I was extremely frustrated. We have been doing so much better in class, and believe it or not, I worked really hard to keep Teddy's attention before we went in the ring.
On the drive home, I decided that I would retire Teddy from agility trials. I would still take him to class and train him, but we would not enter any more trials. I just didn't think that he could handle the trial stress. The only snag was that we had already entered our own club's trial, a three day event. Sure, I could have scratched him from the whole weekend, but I had already paid my money, so why not just see what happens.

I did not film Friday's runs because I assumed they would just end up on the blooper reel anyway. No one was more shocked than me at Teddy's performance all weekend. He paid attention and was trying to work with me. It was very exciting to finally feel like a team. He ran the fastest and most focused on Friday and got a little slower and a little more distracted each day. I know running three days in a row was tough on him. Here are Saturday's runs:

That was our first AKC agility Q- and a first place. It was thrilling! Our club gave out three MACH bars that weekend, and I think that run felt just as good to me. Here are Sunday's runs:

After watching these videos over and over again, it's clear to me where the holes are in our training. Obviously, weave poles are the biggest issue. Teddy is stressed out by them and lacks the confidence to take them. We also need a lot of practice on the chute, tunnels, and the tire. These are obstacles that I take for granted that Teddy knows. There are a lot of basics that I need to go back and work. I'm still not sure if Teddy is really retired, but I'm not going to be searching out trials any time soon. We will continue to find the joy in running together.
As for JoJo, I fully intended to keep my blog updated on his progress as he grows up. However, as most people know, having a new puppy in the house takes up a lot of time. We have been so busy playing, training, and going to class that I have been remiss in sharing all of the wonderful things that he has learned. He continues to amaze and surprise me at how much and how quickly he picks up on new behaviors. I can't believe that he is already 6 months old. Here is a video that I shot in the backyard this week working on our tunnel training:
So, in this time of reflection on all that we are thankful for, I am grateful for all of the progress that Teddy has made this year and all that he has accomplished and for my new baby JoJo who delights in everything that he does.

1 comment:

be naughty said...

I know he enjoys it and I really love it, but we have struggled in our teamwork. So, I will share with you an ultimate low and high that happened only a month apart.
Thanks for sharing.