Monday, July 18, 2011


During our private lesson today, I decided to stumble-bum our way through this week's standard course.  LP helped us figure out how to handle it.  For instance, we decided to try a couple of different methods for the opening, and let Riff show us which one he liked best.  

You needed to get your pup over the #1 jump and through a DW/tunnel (#2) discrimination, then run the red line (in the drawing below) to get into position for a front cross from #3 to #4.  You probably wouldn't need to run if your dog didn't need any help getting into the tunnel.  And of course you wouldn't need to zig-zag either. 

Riff needed a little help, so I ended out running (ie. walking briskly), to the front cross position.  After the FC, I turned again, as quickly as possible, to keep Riff in a tight turn off of #4 and set him up for a good entry into the #5 weave poles (which were not as close as they look in the drawing!).  At first Riff landed wide and went in the second gate, but we soon got it worked out.       

However, I've never been comfortable with a turn followed by a turn...or - um - any kind of 360 that involves quickly moving my feet into new positions.  I often get disoriented!    

So I tried facing Riff - Mecklenburg style - to bring him laterally over #3 and into #4, then turning tightly into #5.  180.  The drawing below is pretty crummy, but - since my handlers have feet (yay, feet!) - you get the idea. 

Riff got it.   We've been practicing 'Mecklenburg' lead-outs, so he got it right off the bat, even though it wasn't a lead-out.  Yipee!  And we got a nice tight turn, too.

These are two very basic maneuvers, and in the world of competitive dog agility they are No Big Deal.  But - sometimes - being able to do even this much is sweet. 

While working our way through the rest of the course,  I learned when to send little prayers to the dog gods, thanking them for solid 2o2o contacts.   That we have some work to do to build a little more speed back into the DW - our first dogwalks since April.  I learned we could use some polish on our rear crosses. 

I realized I can now get a good long lead-out from the table.  [Why couldn't I trust him before?  What's different?]   He seems to be pretty great with layering, too.  If I don't notice the obstacles that are between us, he doesn't.   If I do, he does.  He seems to be a pretty neat distance dog.  [Lucky me!] 

The biggest KEY...the most glorious eye-opening magical KEY that I took away from today's lesson was given to me by LP, right after we celebrated our final "run" [aka. brisk walk/romp]. 

Thank you, Lauri!

She said because I'm so far behind him on the course that I'm more intently focusing on what I want him to do, because I can't get up there and show it to him.  And I can feel it, too.  It feels like I'm willing him to go in the proper direction, and to keep going.  And he knows it...he can feel it!  He knows which way I'm looking from 30 feet away.  And because I'm concentrating, and spending all of my energy on keeping my balance and walking as fast as I can toward the most efficient positions I can reach, I'm not confusing him with extra movements.  PLUS he wants to do it right.  He is so sweet.  He is amazing

It could have something to do with trust, too.  I'm trusting my dog.  My dog is trusting me.   It could have something to do with spending a few months mostly playing with him, and not worrying about competition.   It could be that I have a simply amazing dog. 

But she's right about the concentration.  Concentration is the only thing I have left to communicate with, over the kinds of distances we're experiencing.  And it feels good.

We have a long way to go.  We haven't worked agility around any other dogs since April.  We haven't really tackled any fast jumpers courses.  We haven't been to any trials.  I may someday want/need a really good "Left" and "Right" (if only I could tell the difference)...  Yep.  We have a lot to figure out. 

But it all feels possible. 


Anonymous said...

You have a really awesome dog and Riff has a really awesome handler...keep up the good work and BELIEVE! Lauri P has her own awesomeness too!

Miss you,
Laurie & Bling!

Celeste said...

Wowsers! You are very kind. And thank you, thank you, thank you! We will believe...

missing you, too.

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