Sunday, October 20, 2013

Airport Musings

Hello from the airport!  Due to an unfortunate mistake on my part (i.e. making my reservation for the wrong day.  doh. The change fees for United were higher to get on a 4 hour trip with a stop than to book a new, direct 1.5 hour flight on Jet Blue), I am at the airport with several hours to spare.  It might be the first time I've felt like I had time to blog in a long time.  So, here I am, and I'll give an update on the dogs.

Jonah is, as always, great.  I took him to my weekly lesson last Thursday and he was his usual self:  steady and reliable.  Then I took the day off and took both dogs to a lesson on Friday.  He was the most excited and social I have ever seen him at an agility activity.  I have no idea what it was.  I brought both dogs, and Nika got her turn first, so by the time Jonah came out he was really ready to go.  Of course, that's true at trials, but then he's stressed.  He was not stressed at this lesson.  He saw a crowd of people and pulled me towards them, wagging and wiggling and weaving through their legs and jumping up to see them.  Who is this?  Not Jonah.  Then, he did the same with other dogs.  He was jumping around and trying to run and play like he does with Nika, but he's never done that in an agility setting before with any other dog, ever.  So cool.  Then, when we got to the agility part, he was so wild and fast and silly that I couldn't get him clearly through one section for several tries.  But I was laughing a lot at him, which didn't help.  What had gotten into him?  What a goof.  It was great.  If only I could recreate it.

Nika has been a bit up and down lately.  She has moments of brilliance, and then sometimes the wheels really fall off.  At the same lesson when Jonah was being so silly, she was...a puppy.  We went first, and so I pulled her out of the car and asked her to start the course right away.  She was so stimulated by all the dogs and people around, and being in an environment she's only been to once or twice, she didn't focus well.  She started fine, but then wouldn't lie down on the table (and usually she's good at that, compared to her brother.  I've vowed to not have two dogs who can't complete the table).  Then she took a silly zoomies lap, pulled bars, forgot how to weave, etc.  We got through the course, but it was a real mess.  Then our dogwalk and teeter criteria started to fail.

I was underwhelmed, so I took her to run throughs that afternoon.  Convinced that I should get things right this time, I came out with a very workman like approach, and she did fine.  She bailed off the teeter a few times, which is unusual for her.  I wanted to do hard things, so we did and she was fine, but lacked enthusiasm.

When I got home I reassessed and decided I needed to step back.  So in the last few sessions before I left for a business trip this week, we focused on short, fast and fun.  I want to keep all the speed and eagerness I've built in, and it's better to go slow and maintain that than to lose it while doing harder things.  I want to have excellent obstacle performance on all obstacles and need to maintain it at all times.  Then, I want her always happy and drivey.  As long as I can keep those things I can increase difficulty, but only if I can keep those things.  That's the plan at this point, and hopefully I can keep it.

UKI is coming to our area, and I'm thinking about trying it.  Their table criteria is a down, but it doesn't look like all standard courses have a table, so Jonah might have a chance.  Nika will measure into the 20" category, so I have to think about whether I want to start jumping her at that height or enter their Select program so she would jump 16".  There's a trial in November and I might just sign up.  Nika also just had her 18 month birthday, so she's eligible for USDAA, where I'll also have to think about jump height.  I haven't entered anything yet, but it's on the horizon.  Meanwhile Jonah is now less than 20 Qs away from his CATCH so we'll be doing CPE whenever it's convenient.  2014 could be the year!

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