Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pressure Drop

I promised myself I wouldn't look at the running order for Regionals so I wouldn't be freaked out by whoever else might be in my Grand Prix class. How long did it take to break that promise? Oh, about 3 or 4 hours after it arrived. And I only waited that long because I wanted to wait for my lunch hour so I could have a good look. 'I need to see the running order so I can tell if I'll have conflicts' I told myself. It is a 3 ring trial after all, and I've never competed in a 3 ring trial. However, the very first thing I looked at was the Grand Prix entry for finals and I was unnerved by the absence of the one dog most likely to win the class. There are some other great dogs and some that I don't know from out of town but it does mean it's that much more feasible that Lola and I could have a long shot of a chance if enough people screw up. But this is no way to think, first of all because it's unsporting. Do I really want to stand in line hoping my instructors and training companions, people who've helped me immeasurably with my training, will make a mistake? Uh, heck no. Even if they do screw up and I don't does it really prove anything? They're still more experienced and better handlers with faster dogs, they just happened to make a mistake on a day that I didn't, doesn't mean I'm better than them at agility because obviously I'm not.

The other issue here is that I want to go to the ring calm, collected and focused on the course and what we need to do to do our best and not on stupid things I can't control or what the outcome of our run may mean. I'm over the moon just to be qualified let alone running at least one dog in the final round, I really want to enjoy the experience and not have any pressure on me. If I go to the ring stressed out, both dogs will be shut down before they ever leave the start line and it won't be any fun for anybody.

So the theme for the weekend is going to be keeping my cool and enjoying the day. This is probably the largest agility trial ever held in Colorado, even bigger than the AKC Nationals held here a few years ago and certainly bigger than NADAC Nationals. There are so many incredible dog/handler teams coming from all over the U.S./Canada and even one prominent handler from Belgium. Former Olympic diver Greg Louganis will be there running his Border collie & Jack Russell Terrier. Don't know how good he is, will be interesting to see. It will be exciting enough to be able to watch all these great teams and walk the courses with them, I need to put aside any of my silly delusions of grandeur. Instead I'm going to put my energy into obsessing over the weather. Doesn't help that we have a meteorologist in our midst who's already started posting weather predictions for the weekend. This is far worse than the taper madness I've ever had for any marathon or triathlon.

Yesterday I had a private lesson with Elicia Calhoun who's in town for Regionals. She's one of the best in the country and has competed internationally on the world team. She's got a laundry list of wins at national competitions. More importantly though it turns out she's an excellent teacher and she spent around 45 minutes going over a very detailed training plan for me to retrain Lola's contacts (and I can use it to train Strummer too). It uses only shaping, no targets or special props and I don't need stairs. It's very intensive and time consuming but I like it and it's exactly what I was looking for for Strummer. She was extremely thorough and detail oriented in explaining everything which appealed to my engineer brains and she answered all my goofy questions. I wish there'd been time for her to help me with Lola's table issues but I think I can try expanding on the general concepts she taught me for the contacts. Can't wait to get started! Hopefully tonight if I'm not too tired after masters.


  1. OMG, Greg Louganis does dog agility? That is so cool. I loved watching him dive! I would love to see video of him running his dogs!

    I'm enjoying your blog!

  2. I'll try to get some on tape tomorrow and see if I can figure out how to post it. I saw some of his runs today and he's actually pretty good. He's got a VERY cute JRT, all white except for black ears.