Thursday, August 9, 2012

RI USDAA Trial Preview

So I just looked at the catalog for tomorrow.  I love competing.  As I look at the list, I scour it for the other dogs, thinking, "great, there are only a few dogs in our classes, and I know we can run with them."  It's just so exciting opening up that document.  It's a little piece of what's to come, and it's always a thrill to me.

Then I remember that it's perfectly possible, if not likely, that it will be all I can do to get Jonah to lope around and take some obstacles.

I've wanted to compete at this venue for a long time.  It's on turf, which in my mind makes it like a 'real sport.'  I like real sports.  I like to run fast.  I like to kick butt.

But then I remember that Jonah gets really nervous.  He's not sure he knows what a 'real sport' is.  When he's stressed, he doesn't like to run fast.  His version of kicking butt is probably closer to barking at another dog than running a flawless run.  Hmm, I think we have some priorities to straighten out :).

So, here's a look at our schedule for tomorrow, and a brief idea of how I might try to make it the best possible experience:

Arrival/Pre-runs:  For USDAA you have to check in before the general briefing, so we'll be there nice and early.  However, we're not entered in the first class at all.  Last week at the match I took Jonah into the facility before we ran and just let him chill.  We just sat there.  I gave him some cookies, but my goal was relaxation.  This time I'm going to try something different.  I'm still going to take him inside to see the place, but tomorrow I want to try the message, "This is a really fun place where we work together and it's awesome" rather than "There's nothing to be scared of.  This place is boring."  So, I'll go in with cookies and we won't spend a lot of time inside.  We'll go in, walk around and do a bunch of tricks.  I'll try to make it a whole big party, and hopefully he'll want more when it comes time to run.

Round 1:  Advanced Gamblers:  We don't need this Q, but I find that gamblers can be a great way to have an easy, confident run.  Knowing that I don't need the Q, I'll try to make big, fast loops.  If the dogwalk is there I'd like to give it a try for training.  I honestly wouldn't even be opposed to leaving the ring early if he's running well--I don't want him to ever slow down.  There are 5 dogs in the class and I know we could be competitive with a bunch of them, but I'm not focused on that at all.  This will be a win if Jonah goes in and is happy and focused.

Round 2:  Advanced Standard:  We still need 2 standard Qs for our AAD, but I'm ok if that takes a little while.  I know we can do anything on an advanced standard course, but I also know that if he's not running well we wouldn't Q even if he goes clear.  I'd love to have a clean round and a Q in this run, but after last week I know I can't count on it.  Fun, fast, and focused is the goal.

Round 3:  Advanced Snooker:  We also need one snooker Q for the AAD, but snooker can be tough for a demotivated dog.  I will NOT go for a high point count (If I hadn't tried for 58 points that one time we wouldn't need this Q!!).  I WILL look for the smoothest, most flowing course possible.  Jonah can be really good at snooker and I have really enjoyed the 51 point rounds we've had, but this is a time of rebuilding trialing confidence.  I wish we'd never lost it, but life happens.  I just really hope we can get the old Jonah back.  Tomorrow may not be the day, but hopefully it will at least be a tiny step in the right direction.

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