Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zeal Hunting

"Zeal" was on my Old List of Dog Names.    Zeal is a cool word, veering as it does into the realm of 'unbridled enthusiasm.' (You might think 'zealot - religious fanatic,' but that's not what I had in mind, unless agility is a religion.  Wait, is agility a religion?)     You could call your dog "Z" for short.  Cool.

But I started a New List of Dog Names, some weeks ago, and Zeal dropped off. 

New List:
Music (Muse)
Easy (E)
Secret (See)
Dr.Who (Doc)
Mana (Hawaiian word.  Man?)
Gee-Gee (for global geophysical event)
Lituya (that wild Alaskan bay.  Lit?)
Rapid (Rap)
Model (Mod)
Red Alert
Skiffle (Ski or Skiff)

Since I carry an iPhone, I can throw a word onto the dog names list whenever I feel like it.  Like when I'm out at a restaurant with friends, and someone starts talking about how many earthquakes we've had around the Pacific Ring of Fire lately.  My friends don't really notice if I pull my phone out and type a word or two.  It takes three seconds. (Yeah, they notice, and yeah, they give me grief.  I hold up my phone and say "dog name" and they shake their heads, some with obvious sympathy.)  Or - and this is more polite - like when I'm watching a baseball game and Wilson comes in to pitch the 9th inning and it becomes way too stressful and I have to look at my iPhone instead of at the game, in order not to have heart attack.  Everyone understands healthy living. 

My New List has a few baseball terms on it.  Of course having a dog name list is a bit silly, because it's going to be a long, long time before I get another dog.  Or so my husband thinks.  Anyway.

Today I'm realizing that I need to put ZEAL back on the list, because I've been having too many low energy days, when it comes to agility training.  Blah.  What happened to my agility enthusiasm?  I need to find it.   FIND IT! 

(When I say that to my dogs they run around with the speed of light, looking for toys....)

On October 10th it will have been six months since my back was hurt and my leg went out.  I really did expect to be running by now, but I'm not.  Happily, I'm getting closer to being able to run...I can jog in a clumsy way, for about ten steps, before the weird jack-hammer-wooden-peg-leg pain says "Walk, you fool!"  So I really need to hang on to that concept of IMPROVEMENT  - I have definitely improved.  I need to hang onto that with all of my chewed-up finger nails, and just Keep On Keeping On. 

Oh, you know. 

And I know it too.'s a bit like being in the ozone at times.  Today, for instance.  I used to train 4 days a week, sometimes 5.  I'm down to 1 or 2 days.  Don't I need to rent more field time?  Find a training partner?  Make more videos? GEAR UP?!  Or should I continue to "take it easy" until I can really run?  Just let my dogs play repetitive toy games in the backyard and walk around yet another seemingly endless lake...?  

And I get concerned that my young dog might be picking up bad agility habits, too, even though we're not training much.  Because when I take him to our group lessons I fall way behind on the course and resort to....verbals that he doesn't really understand, and windmill arms, and even 'mother flicking'...or 'father flicking'....or.....something dangerously close to that...and...and....other odd behaviors.  

So I need to be very careful.  Every time I look at a course I need to PLAN:  How far can I lead-out?  How far behind will I get?  How quickly?  Where should I try to get to next?  What sort of signal can I reasonably expect to give?   Where shall I stop and train?

I'm pretty sure it's been almost six months since Riff and I have run more than 6 or 7 obstacles without stopping  - but we most often stop because he doesn't understand what I want.  It's apparent that I'm not breaking down the course enough.  Our best days are when we have the field to ourselves and work with a very specific goal and work with no more than 3 obstacles.  But I get itchy feet.  And...doesn't Riff want to RUN???   So.  Sometimes I sneak a "run" in...trying to get through the course. 

The other dicey part is that I've been experimenting with new methods of handling, trying to prevent my back from being re-injured, and as a result Riff has been confused.  Especially when other people run him...but he's confused when I run him, too.   And - is he slowing down a lot, or is that my imagination....?  Damn.    I've always thought of myself as an "intuitive" trainer - from way back in the horse days.  Being on horseback is splendid, because you're physically "one" with the animal.  The stream of communication is constant, and pretty easy to read.  I remember getting really weary of "pleasure" riding, and being thrilled with "reining" and "cutting" because - finally - we could really boogie.  My horses were excited, too. 

Dog training is quite different.  It isn't easy for me to get analytical, to move slowly, to break things down and work the details, over and over again, without then trying it all out (and having some FUN) by running as fast as we can around a course.  But it looks like my back - and my young dog? - need for me to break it down further, and stop trying to get around the courses. 

These ideas are eating into my zeal.  

So this week I'm on a ZEAL HUNT.  I need to find some agility enthusiasm!  Without running!  Still not sure how to go about it....    ....    .....    .....

1 comment:

Elf said...

I like Zeal.

Gosh, I haven't updated my dog names list in, well, let's see, boost is 6 and a half, probably 6 and a quarter years. Guess I'm still not seriously thinking about another dog. :-)

I hate thinking up names, so having that list well prepared & aged, like a good wine, is a good idea.

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