Sunday, December 07, 2008

Strummer's First Trial

First off can I say what an awesome husband I have? He came to the trial at 2:00 to videotape us and cheer us on. We didn't have our Tunnelers run until around 4:40 and our Jumpers run was at 6:40. Now he likes watching agility and was especially keen to see Strummer's debut but he doesn't love it that much that he wants to sit around for over 4 1/2 hours to watch less than a minute of Strummer in the ring, especially when they turned the heat off at 5:00 and it got so cold he was shivering and he had hardly eaten all day, etc. Heck, I don't love agility that much either.

The highlight of the trial for me was Strummer's behavior. I worked so hard on that and yesterday it paid off. He had absolutely no problems around the crowds of other dogs, had wonderful focus on me, no lunging at the dogs in the ring, nothing even approaching an outburst, what an awesome boy when I think about how far he's come. I realized I need to teach him a few more tricks and improve on the ones I've already taught him so he has more to do while he's warming up and waiting his turn.

His first run was Tunnelers and it was a bit wild. He had a zillion run-bys, not entirely sure why. On the one hand you could argue that we never practice a whole course of just tunnels so maybe he was confused but I can't shake the feeling that maybe it was something with my handling. I was mad at myself afterwards for having him go back and redo every tunnel that he missed. My plan, as it always is, was to keep going if he missed a tunnel, not sure what gremlins took my brains hostage and made me do otherwise. Honestly I could care less about a novice tunnelers Q. I'm not sure how much NADAC we'll end up doing anyway, I only signed up for this trial because it was 20 minutes from my house at the arena where Strum takes classes and goes to practice run-throughs so I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to get some trial experience. And it was.

After that crazy Tunnelers run I was determined we were going to do better in Jumpers. The course was easy, no side changes for the way I chose to handle it and only one trap. He had a beautiful fast run and I had a stupid timing error with my handling, pulling him off a jump. At least I was early with my cue and not late but in essence I ended up calling him off a jump he was supposed to take. Poor guy did it too, he's such a good boy. I felt terrible about confusing him. Highlight of the run was his recall to heel on a 3 jump lead out. We've practiced this a zillion times with 1 or 2 jumps but not so much with 3. He collected perfectly and had a nice turn. What a nice startline stay too, I was most nervous about that. He broke his stay at the warm-up jump a couple of times which was unusual, I think I've been careless about pairing too much motion with my arm and his verbal release. He was solid in the ring for both runs but I'll have to proof that stay a bit more so there's no confusion in his mind.

I thought his jumping looked nice for a baby dog, no ticked or knocked bars and nice take-off and landing points for most of the jumps. Still I think I need to work more jumping drills. I've been slacking off of those lately because of the focus on weave pole training. I hate to work him on too many strenuous things at once.

I didn't hang around to find out what his placement was but even with the 4 seconds lost to the refusal he was 6 seconds under course time. Technically it was a Q because NADAC doesn't charge refusals but again I don't care all that much and it didn't feel like it should have been one. Didn't even think to pick up his Q ribbon. Jonny thought I should have since it was his first but oh well. It would have ended up lost in a pile somewhere anyway.

Poor guy was exhausted when we finally got home. I'd taken him and Cody for a 3 mile walk/run in the morning before the trial. I left him in the car rather than bother with a crate inside where it was noisy and crowded but I have no idea how much he rested. He seemed calm enough when I went to get him out of the car but who knows if he slept any.

Can't wait for our next trial, he's a kick in the pants to run. I signed him up for a DOCNA trial at the same venue in February. Not sure if his contacts will be ready for the ring but I figure we can run past them if we have to. I'm more interested in getting some ring experience at this point and I want to take advantage of the opportunity to do it at a laid back one ring trial on his home turf.


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  2. Cool! Really nice Jumpers run. You know it's a long lead out when your camera person has to choose between filming the dog and the handler. I thought you two looked nicely in sync throughout the run.

    I understand about kicking yourself for making him go back and take the tunnels. But hey sometimes the gremlins mess with our minds as you said so don't be too hard on yourself.

    Anyway great job Strummy especially with all the trial site manners stuff. Looking forward to reading about his next trial.

  3. I love the "after" pic of him on the couch!

  4. Thanks for the kind words. Jonny was laughing that he couldn't fit us all in even with the zoom all the way out. Hopefully next time out I'll remember not to repeat stuff.

    It takes a lot to wear Strummer out but once he gets tired he hits the couch pretty hard.

  5. He looks great - and SO under control - for a baby dog! Loved that jumpers run, he was just ON!

    Don't laugh when Stanley does his first USDAA jumpers run next weekend and we look significantly less polished than this.

  6. Yay, Strummy! He looked so mature in the Jumpers run and what beautiful collection for that third jump. You must be soooo proud!

  7. He looks incredible. Good job, Strum!

    I'm so jealous. I see these novice courses, and I know that Lilly could TOTALLY rock them. *sigh*

  8. I was really happy with that collection, best part of the run. That recall to heel move is slick and we've been practising it a lot.

    Yeah, those NADAC courses aren't terribly challenging, esp. at the Novice level though this time it looked like the Elite Jumpers course had a bit of challenge to it.

  9. Wow, he looks great out there! Pretty darned good for a Novice first time out--OK, pretty darned good even if he'd had some experience. In tunnelers you were definitely moving on a trajectory to pull him off the tunnels. The first one is hard to tell but it looks like you were pulling a little to the outside to try to get ahead; the second one you turned and pulled too soon, the third time you kind of overran the tunnel so you were still moving away from the tunnel entrance instead of towards it, and at the end he just got ahead of you and didn't know how to keep running without looking back at you. But mostly he did good; I've seen dogs be way more confused about the multiple-tunnel thing, but this I think was just timing.

    Great start-line stay in Jumpers!

  10. Wow, great jumpers run. We've been working on that timing thing too - been pulling JoJo off jumps lately.

    You guys had a great day, nice job!