Thursday, October 16, 2008
I've not written about the wee Strum man for ages. We've been taking private lessons with Joy all summer, just handling stuff on jumps and tunnels and a little bit of work on weave entries. These lessons are mostly for me, I need a lot of help with my handling. I think my main problem these days is that I get all in a panic while I'm running Strummer since he's so freaking fast, I forget to think about where I'm running or how fast I'm approaching an obstacle and where exactly the crazy rocket dog zoomed off to on course. Joy had to put a bar on the ground last week to keep me from running to close to a jump. I'm getting better about keeping my arm up all the time and the flailing is getting better but I still revert back to the old habits now and then. So much to think about all at once while running and trying to keep an eye on a black and white poof of smoke. He's like those cartoons where one moment there's a dog there and the next just a puff of smoke in the shape of a dog.
I set my sights on a Feb. DOCNA trial for his first trial just so I have a goal to shoot for, otherwise I'll mosey along forever with his training. Then I thought what the hey, let's embrace the madness and enter him in a NADAC trial in December. Just Jumpers and Tunnelers. Just to see what will happen. I know, I'm nauseous about it already. Both trials are one ring at an indoor arena less than 20 minutes from home. Also, they have drop-in courses set up once a week so I can practice there well before the trials. Also I'm seeing about getting him in his first group class there but we'll see. I sent an email to the instructor that basically said 'hi, my dog doesn't know all the obstacles and is a bit crazy, can we be in your class?' How could he refuse? Actually I know the guy and he knows Strummer so we'll see what he says. These classes are at the same place as the drop-ins and trials so it will also be great practice for him. We were splitting some of our lessons with Joy with one other dog and that went great so I'm hoping he's finally ready for a class. Got to start somewhere.
Weaves are oh so close. He's still having problems collecting when he's excited and he either misses the entry or gets the entry but skips the second pole. I finally got him up to weaving 12 straight poles but he has to be in a sit right in front of them with me standing at the very end of them facing him.
His contacts are doing great, we're up to a 16" table at Biscuit Eaters and a 12" table at home. The plank at B.E. is a proper sturdy dogwalk plank with slats and the one I have at home is just a 1x12 with no slats and it's not nearly as sturdy. I'm going to see about reinforcing it a bit this weekend and maybe making another plank so he can run up and over the table then down the second plank like a mini-dogwalk. I don't have room in my yard for a full size and probably only barely have room for what I'm proposing. Maybe the up ramp will have to be short. He's at 80-90% accuracy so it's time to move up the heights. Sylvia Trkman recommends moving up at 2"-4" intervals and I discovered that 4" so too much of a jump so I'll need to cut some more table legs this weekend. I was reading a training journal where the person was increasing in 1/2" increments but that's too much sawing for me I'm afraid. She was using a different sort of setup too so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison. We'll see how it goes at 2", hopefully I won't have to go to 1". I'm hoping to start him on a low dogwalk in 4-6 weeks depending on how things go. His teeter needs some work too. He does it no problem but he's not stopping at the bottom. He's not flying off either but I'd like a stop so I'm working with him on a very low teeter for now. He won't focus forward and I think I may experiment with using the treat gizmo.
So much to learn for a crazy little border collie. I'm giving Team Old School a bit of a break from agility to focus on the Strum man. Hopefully I can finally get him up and running.