Monday, March 19, 2012

Is it worth it?

Well, I had worried about disaster in this trial because of some bad training sessions beforehand.  I can happily report that we avoided crisis.  However, I also have to say that it was just not fun, and I left the whole day wondering if trialing was really worth it.

Round 1:  Advanced Jumpers
     This run was probably the highlight of the day.  I walked the course and thought the closing line was especially tricky, but knew we could get it done.  Luckily I watched a dog run before us and realized that, in fact, I had walked the wrong closing line.  The actual course was much easier!  So, I had a little moment of panic while I searched for a course map and made a plan for the end of the course, but then felt pretty confident going into the ring.  My biggest concerns were two places where I really needed to be ahead of him.  Well, that turned out not to be a problem.  He was very obedient and wasn't especially worried.  He kept his focus, but he was just not his speedy self.  So, the course ran very smoothly but it lacked that fun edge where things are almost out of control.  So, we easily got our Q but we were slow enough to be out of the ribbons in a large class (and they only pinned through 3rd at this trial).  I thought we were out of trouble, though, when right after the class he pooped.  I knew he probably had to before the run but he wanted to go in so badly he wouldn't take the time to stop.  So, I thought that after he was done with that the next run would be more himself.

Round 2:  Advanced Snooker
     I got excited when I saw the course map for Snooker.  A little too excited.  We were allowed to do 4 reds, and I wanted to go for it.  It was really awkward to go for all four sevens, but I planned a nice course of 7-6-7-7 that didn't look too twisty.  I was ready to go.  Well, he started out pretty well.  Not full speed, but not bad.  We got our 1-7-1-6-1-7-1 and everything was going well.  But then, when we turned to the 7, which was just a little line of two jumps, Jonah ran past the jump and stopped, nervous.  It probably took me close to 10 seconds to get him back moving.  He looked terrified.  Then he ran past the second jump.  Meanwhile, I knew precious time was slipping away but I didn't remember the rules--would I get whistled off if we just went on to the closing?  I thought so, so I kept trying to get him back on track.  I did, eventually, but I swear we must have wasted 15-20 seconds in getting this last 7.  Then we started the closing and got 2.  We were on our way to 3 when the buzzer rang, and we would have had to get to 4 to Q.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I guess I got too ambitious in trying to really go for it.  The highest score in the class ended up being 44, so we even a 7-6-7 would have won pretty handily.  So, I'll take credit for the NQ.  Still, it was frustrating to just totally lose my dog and not be able to get him over this silly two jump combination.  The poor guy was just so nervous.  Even when we got outside he didn't seem happy.  I tried to play with him and he would just turn away.  Instead of leaping into the car he climbed up laboriously.  I was worried he wasn't feeling well.  Not sure what was going on, I figured I'd run the next run and then decide whether we should just go home.

Round 3:  Advanced Pairs
     I don't like having the pressure of a partner on my shoulders, but I also wanted to get this Q over with and I didn't want to let down our partner, so we gritted our teeth and headed in.  Our partner didn't have a preference about which course she ran, and I think I'm more comfortable running second, so we did the second half.  It was not really that easy.  It was a straight line of jump-weave-jump and then turn away from another jump that was straight ahead and very close.  So you had all this momentum straight ahead and then had to turn.  Then after you turned you had a discrimination, taking the tunnel.  After the tunnel you did a little pinwheel and then came back to the discrimination, this time taking the DW.  Anyway, our partner started well and generally ran nicely but the dog saw Jonah as he was coming down the closing line and it distracted him, making the last bar fall.  Then the pressure was on, so after a clean baton exchange we were off.  Jonah ran great and nailed the turns and discriminations.  The only issue was that the judge was very close to the DW, and Jonah got a little concerned about him coming down the ramp.  He ran through his 2o2o, but we finished fast enough to Q with 7 seconds to spare, even with the bar.  Phew!  We even got 2nd place!  That was a huge relief, so we don't have to do pairs again until Masters.  Also, I was thinking Jonah was feeling a lot better.  I vowed to stay right next to him on the DW in standard so he would feel sheltered from the judge, and I decided to run our last run.

Round 4:  Advanced Standard
     It was a pretty easy course.  There were a few tricky areas, like the chute to the table where dogs kept blasting out of the chute and then when they jumped on the table it was tippy and they'd fall/jump off.  Also then it was a tricky weave entry from the table and a side change in the weaves.  Well, Jonah got all barky and excited, and raced up onto the DW.  I stayed right next to him over the top, but then even though I was right there he stopped and looked at the judge.  Before I knew it I was ahead of him calling him down the ramp, which he did, but it was slow and messy and again there was no 2o2o.  Then a few jumps where he picked up speed.  Then the teeter.  Again, he stopped and looked worried.  I had to really coax him to tip it.  Then a jump and a tunnel before the A-frame.  I waited while he was in the tunnel and gave him a playful, "Ready?!" as he was exiting, and then really accelerated towards the A-frame.  Didn't work.  He stopped at the top, nervous again, and then trotted down the ramp.  Luckily I didn't have to worry about him blasting out of the chute, because there was no blasting going on.  He got on the table and actually did a nice down.  Then he got a good weave entry and the weaves might have been the highlight of the run--he was good and speedy.  Then we had a jump, a tunnel and the closing line.  He came out of the tunnel looking confused and unenthused, but he ran down the closing line and through the end.  Wow.  A lot of work and not a lot of fun for either of us, although I think I did a pretty good job of giving him a big party at the end for getting through it.  It turned out that if we'd been .25 seconds slower we wouldn't have qualified just for being too slow.  Needless to say, we didn't place.

Yarg!  Jonah might not be as driven as some of the BCs, but he is NOT a slow dog.  In practice, he's FAST.  And sometimes he's fast in trials.  He usually has a great time running.  But not this time.  It made me really question whether trialing is worth the time, money and effort if it's not going to be fun for him (and honestly, it's not much fun for me either when he's not having fun).  I'm not ready to give up yet since this was by far the trial where he showed the least enthusiasm.  It's also possible that he's just not feeling great right now.  I'm going to keep a close watch on him over the next few days and see how things go.  Poor guy.  I love him so much and want all the best for him!

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