Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last one before the BIG RODEO

Ugh, having the plague sure is demotivating. I place the blame on coworkers and also Hortonville’s active horse barn trial location.

Speaking of- back from Hooville. Interesting weekend. Highs:

*Team Qualifier for 2011 out of the way. First place with a baby dog team, too!

*12/15 overall Q rate.

*Finished her Standard Championship, Snooker Bronze and Gamble Bronze titles.

*Jumped very well on dirt.

*No misses on the A frame… at least, none were called.

*No off-courses on some exceedingly tricky designs (seriously an achievement).

Things I probably have no right to complain about given the above but will cuz I want to!!!

*Frankly, not the best times. No placements above forth

*Dog walk problems!!!

*No Grand Prix Q! Very disappointed as this was my secret goal.

Not sure what was up with her times this weekend. No video opportunity so I have to guess. I think she ran very well, all things considered with those courses. They were very trappy and jerky. When you could open up into speed *BAM* speed trap into an off-course option! The Dog had a great attitude even with frequent call-offs and kept it GOing through each and every course. My guess is that in the effort to not cut her speed by micro-managing her stride and keeping her close, she had many a trip to China. So that tells me we still need work on moving into me with speed, not just moving away with it. Homework assignment one for the week. Also I think we lost a lot of time re-directing from the off-course options-which were many! She tended to “shop” each option and look at me for a yes/no (Dog says They all looked good to me!!). So homework assignment two for me will be to get more active in these situations. I can stand and call or I can go and show.

And REALLY not sure what was up with her dogwalk! She was very slow (compared to last weekend and many practices) over the whole thing, even with a huge fast run onto it. She was going 2o2o by the last day, which she hates, so that tells me something was really up in her head making her think too much. I thought at first that the rubberized contact had something to do with it, but it seems more likely that the types of courses and the layout of the dogwalk on course were just bad enough to make her second-guess her running performance. It was pointed out to me that we were running into the wall a lot and often the dogwalk seemed to head into nothing or have a sharp turn to the side. Thinking about it, I have been targeting to a jump or tunnel, so there was nothing to drive to in many cases. Homework assignment three!

Ugh ugh less than two weeks until the Nationals. I’m trying to think of some realistic goals for her so that we can both have fun. List time!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Dog.

I heart the Dog.

Weekend is over. She was such a good girl. In standard, she received a "fly-off" call on her teeter. I suppose most people would not think of that as being a good girl, but she actually had a very nice teeter. The Dog has a running teeter and SOME judges (mostly in AKC...hmmm...) don't really judge it for what it is- in control, in the contact, and touching the ground before she departs it. OH WELL! She did her job. I won't change it because a few judges dislike it. We have faced some 'discrimination' before on the Aframe contact zone. Now as judges are getting more used to running contacts, the margin of error on the calls is getting smaller. So I won't complain TOO much more. Anyways, I am happy to report that her standard run was really amazing. FAST and smooth. The dogwalk and Aframe were exactly how I envision her performance to be.

Jumpers was very fun. She ran clean and finished her OAJ. She was also very fast- she actually got about half a course ahead of me and finished the last 8 obstacles on her own with directionals only. The crosses I snuck in were very much on the fly and, like yesterday, did not disrupt her stride. Going to keep working on this. She just started being ok with this type of cross and I am liking it!

So, this week we will be working on the high A again and full dogwalks only. Also have to work on actually laying DOWN on the table since she got by this weekend with a stand. 2011 qualifier next weekend and I'd like to get Team and a Steeple Q out of the way for next year! Also need one snooker and one gamble for her 15 Q titles and one more standard for the 10 Q title. The main goal will be to get her on the dirt and see if we can maintain her jumping and SPEED. Last shot at trialing before the BIG trial!!

Noms and TV are deserved after being so good all weekend.
No one said the Dog wasn't part sloth.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This week is going awesome(ly?)!

Dog: Whatchya doing?
Me: Shhh... having a moment.
Dog: Ohhh... whats that?
Me: You know, when you take a minute to like, reflect. It's supposed to be quiet reflection.
Dog: Ohhhh.... sorry.
Me: It's ok. Why don't you try reflecting too?
Dog: Ok.
Dog: ...Reflect on what?
Me: The week! The nice week we had!!!
Dog: OOOOooohh... OK. Well, I chewed my bone, and played outside, and ran around, and-
Me: No, to yourself, reflect to yourself!
Dog: OOOOOHHHHHH... I don't get it.
Me: Never mind. I'll go blog about it instead.
Dog: OK... could you throw my toy first?

We had a few good days here. First, obedience Thursday. Apparently, one has to heal with their dog OFF LEASH to show in Novice. Surprise!! Figured we should give that a go in the safety of class. And-even bigger SURPRISE!!! the dog was pretty dang near flawless. We had a different instructor who had us go through the exercises in a new order. I have to say, the Dog's mind was blown. I had no clue how very concrete sequential she was until that moment. We usually do long sits and downs after the stand, but instead did a recall exercise. Poor Dog looked nervously at all her classmates releasing to her owners but stayed firmly in her sit, believing wholeheartedly that every other dog was stupid to fall for the oldest trick in the book (Dog says Don't they know- wait means WAIT! Duh.) by actually coming when I called when she was sitting. It was very interesting and I am glad for the insight.

Then we found out that...drum roll...we managed to secure a few working spots for the upcoming Silvia Trkman seminar! Running Contacts and 'Fine Tune Handling for Competitive Teams.' I literally jumped for joy. After trying to apply a lot of her methodology in the last couple months on my own I am overjoyed at the opportunity for help first hand. I am very hopeful that she will be able to help us through some of the motivation road blocks. I am also auditing her 'cik/cap' jumping session and a session on starting a new puppy... just in case. Really looking forward to it all!

Last, today was day one at the AKC show- BOTC. We are fervently trying to get her through Open quickly, and she gained some ground by qualifying in both classes. Though, she had an off course in Standard. (Dog says Didn't you know- 'teeter' is... uh... French ...for 'jump!') She had terrific contacts though so can't complain a whole lot. It was just kind of silly. Jumpers involved two incredibly close calls, but both times she came off to the correct choice. I drove from behind for much of it so I was really happy to keep her head in those situations. Also proud of me for delivering some front crosses on the fly- she didn't even break stride and picked them up amazingly. Very nice times, even with all the almost off courses (and one real). She RAN the whole time, which always makes me happy. We'll see if tomorrow goes as well, we just need one more Q in each for the titles.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brrr... let indoor agility season commence!

Yeah, I'm cold. I will admit it. I am not hardy. The Dog LOVES the weather though. Nothing gives her the boost to GO like a breezy, drizzly day. Sigh. So out I go into the cold.

Class Tuesday was great. Happy Dog. BUT worrisome in that she missed all her contacts the first time. And since she will be even more high at the AKC show this weekend, does that mean that I have to kiss my standard Qs bu-bye? Or maybe I should get up even earlier and go run contacts before the show starts. Although when you have to get there at 6am to get crate space, this route does not seem likely.

So we went out last night to just run contacts. Two misses on the A. One leap on the DW. I am learning that if I am too far behind on the DW and she can't see me, she will leap. If I move too far ahead, she will slow into the 2o2o. NOT SURE WHY, except that maybe she is anticipating a turn or something? I really wish I knew why 'me in front' came to mean 'STOP' to her. Huh. Animal Communicator, ho!

I've also learned that her Aframe is wonderful at USDAA heights, but she cannot use that stride for the lower AKC heights. She needs an 'easy' command to check her when its low. Must remember this weekend! SO prefer USDAA heights where she can just GO! Even if it's easier for her, we will be needing to work our butts off to get the stride running correctly again for next weekend's USDAA three day in Hortonville. Flipping back and forth seems to confuse her. Confuses me at least.

Probably will go out again tonight, braving the chill (though hopefully not the downpour again, like stupid last night). At least all our shows will be indoors from now on, even if practice is outside for awhile longer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to school

Since we've been so busy showing and training in agility we took a break from obedience class for the last part of the summer (I do like to see the inside of my house at least one night a week!). But the Dog has been growing increasingly naughty with this departure so I decided it was time for her to go back to school this week too.

She surprised me by doing better than ever on her heeling; finally she is able to keep her eyes on me. (Dog says I think it's silly that I'm supposed to watch you instead of where I am going. You are clumsy and might walk us into the gate-again!!) I did NOT walk us into the gate last night or into the pole person during figure eights, so I am getting better too. I would say she is ready to start showing there except for her recall. Much like her agility lead out, it is very slow and it's clear she is not comfortable with the concept. I am thinking I will start having someone help me do restrained recalls because it's getting kind of ridiculous. I see that she thinks something is going on or going to happen when I face her, but I just don't know what is in her mind that makes her come in so tentatively. I know part of it was that I would put her on the wait to lead out and when she hears "wait" that means "wait forever until I hear 'ok'." So when I started saying "OK, Come" it improved but only for about 2/3 of the run to me. Gotta figure out how to get that last third GOing!

After class we did some agility- weaves and fun jumping exercises. She really is starting to love the 24" weaves and actually gets some footwork going. Jumping went great, she was really moving with speed and confidence. I was good and remembered to reward the bursts of speed in the right direction with her toy.

We ended on some A-frame runs on the AKC height frame in practice for out next show. Awesome! Now that I understand my job (run forward!) she gets hers too. She was even flying the apex and still striding down and normally its one or the other. Yay! Her A is a total Go.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dogwalk= GO

Reason for retraining...

Last night the Dog and I worked about two 15-20 minute sessions on board running. First we tried it with the board all the way on the ground (2nd or 3rd time doing this). Her hit rate was pretty solid, but I can tell she didn’t fully get it. (Dog says But I got to get the BALL. That was the point, right?)

Then I tried elevating about 4 inches. She REALLY liked it then. I tried several variations to see what produced the best stride. Note that each time we start her pretty far back from the plank (5-15 feet), and played “ready….steady… WALK” as the release. I also mark it by saying “YES” since I can always do that (usually lose my clicker…) and letting her get the toy.

1) Me even with her at the start of the plank, toy in front, 10 feet out: I think she thought I was trying to trick her (It was reminiscent of proofing of yore.). She slowed into 2o2o and looked back at me for a release.

2) Me in Front, dropping toy: same, but worse. She was really anticipating having to do SOMETHING.

3) Me even with her at the start of the plank, rolling toy out in front from behind after sending her: Worked well, and kept her very low, but hard to time and caused her to have to look back if I was slow on the toy or threw it badly. Probably why most people leave it way out in front…

4) Tried the same as 3), except told her to “go” which means go straight ahead: LEAP!! She really would RUN, but also took a huge leap in the process.

5) Me even with her at the start of the plank, but when I released her onto the plank I ran with and rolled the toy out in front: Better. I liked her momentum, but not as consistent a hit rate as 3).

6) Tried 3) again, but this time put a jump out as a target: Some would say this is not the way to go, but it did actually keep her moving ahead and had a good hit rate. I was able to run with her too eventually.

I also tried-once- putting guides (sort of a hoop) around the end zone to run under. NOPE! I forgot that she does not like to go under things (Dog says I have a fear of getting stuck! That and being put on a diet!) and will instead opt for the OVER path. She leapt the guide from halfway down the plank. Yikes!

So my rules appear to be:

-Do not say GO. (Seems kind of counterintuitive for the project though, huh?)

-No guides/apparatus/regulators.

-Push don’t pull. When I get in front that translates to her that it’s time to slow up for a turn.


I’m going to keep playing with 3), 5) and 6) or some combination thereof.

P.S. Since I do still have her entered in upcoming trials, as a test to see the damage incurred I ended up running her over the whole DW after we were done for the night. It. Was. AWESOME. I know I can’t expect her to be perfect on the whole obstacle in shows while we retrain it at home, but I feel better seeing that I haven’t totally ruined her and feel like the training might be helping!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MAC Day Three Team Tourney/How did it GO Review

Day Three (Team) was ______ (still trying to fill in the blank!).

Gamblers to start- the Dog felt a bit off. Still sleepy? In an abnormal occurrence she ran around the first jump for the gamble. Whistle!

Jumpers- better. One bar down, but since it was that or an off-course I will take it! The bar made her a bit sad, but she recovered a few jumps later to finish up a tricky (pipe tunnel filled!) course nicely.

Standard- better still. Another trappy course; my screams (“auuughhh! NOOOOO! COME! LEFT LEFT LEFT!!) resulted in one bar down.

Snookers- UGH! Who stole my dog!? I had a nice FUN plan filled with everything she likes and it was still like pulling teeth. No, like it was her first run. In agility. Ever. Practically walked through the first 6 or so things. Then when she started to go all of a sudden, she was gone. We made it through 5 in the close before time buzzed and I tried to leave with some dignity, but she got stuck in a tunnel vortex and kept running around and around, each time surfacing to peek at me with a ‘nah nah nahhhhh’ look on her face before diving back in the tunnel for another spin through. UGH!

Relay- finally had a happy dog again. Something about playing with the baton really peps her up.

Overall the Team ended up in 2nd with a Q, which was awesome all things considered. To be fair, the courses were super tricky with a lot more off-course options then we have seen recently.

Now let’s review the weekend goal situation. Keep in mind that the courses were atypical for the judge- very much NOT ‘run from behind’ as I had hoped/expected. Most situations forced a front cross or similar maneuver from the front.

Video from the weekend...for review!!

*Dog RUN from start to finish. To achieve: I will stay out of her way as much as possible (rears instead of fronts, TELL not show what to do). I will pick courses in flow when I have the option. I will mark it ("YES! GO!") asap when I see her committing to the right obstacle. I will run and run some more.

Well, over all there was more consistent running from her. Just a few classes where we really lost the momentum and for pretty obvious reasons. I certainly tried the flow thing and think I was ok with marking her choosing the right things.

*Will Dog’s contacts will hold up. We’ve been doing a lot of racing, especially on the DW to enforce it in her mind that she no longer should stop. Will they be fast? Will the show hit % be as good as the practice %?

I think she did amazing on her DW contacts. They were much faster than usual- she really launched herself up and over the obstacle, where in the past she kind of loped over the whole thing. She did not try to stop on the bottom once. YAY! Note though- I watched the video and they look much more “iffy” on tape then when we ran, so we will keep working to get one extra ‘safety’ stride.

*Competitive times, particularly in Jumpers. So many jumps, so many options, makes for so much thinking aka hesitation. To achieve: set lines and let her run ahead. Hopefully the courses will allow this

Quasi-Fail. I think the jumpers courses required to much control for this to work. When I did try to let her GO and run ahead she was very uncertain due to all of the off-course options. BUT getting much better time-wise on standard classes, which is great to see!

Lots to work on now for the next show. (AKC in two weeks, USDAA 2011 tournament qualifier in three weeks). Tomorrow we will do some basic board runs on the dog walk plank. Also have to try to find something that will work to motivate her to run with confidence for the big outruns in Snookers from the get-go.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

MAC: Days One and Two Recap

Super Serious Start Line GO Face.

Hmmm. WELL, Not sure how we are doing on our goals. Reviewing that tomorrow. But having fun so far!

Jumpers and Gamblers Qs. She DID run clean in Standard, but a fault ended up on our sheet. No one remembers a 'close call' (Dog says believe me I was on my best behavior. I am the first to admit to naughtiness. See below.) or a hand. No hands on video. Oh well, you get some you lose some.

Gamblers was a great run on a super tricky lateral gamble. Missed one dog walk, but that was the only miss on day one or two. Second place anyways.

Grand Prix... um. Mostly nice! The weaves were at the start, hiding in a nest of jumps (her favorite!). She blew the exit twice to drift over to one particularly close jump. (Dog says I still don't see why we couldn't do the jump.) I did have to say "no" which usually makes her melt but she did surprise me by continuing with decent speed. Encouraging!

Snookers, well, definitely the low point! Normally our strength. Icky layout, but I thought I had a plan she'd like. I guess not! We had a nice start, then lost her to a tunnel. I thought I was pretty clear, hard cross, "turn" command and "jump," but it was a no-go. When she can out of the tunnel to me she tried to crawl up my shorts. Pretty sure she knew that was an oops! (Dog says Yup. See, I admit it! I could NOT resist that tunnel. But I came right back!!)

On Jumpers I tried very hard to drive from behind, but she was kind of scared! She kept looking back like, don't step on me! (Dog says Its true. I was very suspicious.) I think this is because it came after Snookers and Grand Prix.

GREAT day.
Jumpers to start. Icky course to run in the dew. No room to open up due to off course options She ran extremely tight (despite the fact that I layered the whole thing) and in control for a Q. Very slow for her though. Maybe she just hadn't woken up yet? (Dog says You should have gotten me a Red Bull too.)

Standard, Q, nice run. Very fast for her. She leaned up on three legs on the table though during the count and lost threeish seconds to that. Oh well! I was happy with her time even with that delay.

Gamblers, Q, super run! Usually it's either an impressive opening and no gamble or gamble and lame opening, but this was a rare case of overall good stuff! 3rd place in a HOT class.

Snookers, SUPER Q! She started out a bit 'iffy.' But around the third red, she figured out what we were doing (Dog says Oh yeah, SNOOKERS. I thought you said sneakers so I was being sneaky.) and started blasting around. It was just what I want to see.

Overall, I think she had a lot of fun today after Jumpers was out of the way. It showed in her times and on her 'yee-haa' expression. Let's see if we can keep this Go Dog GOING tomorrow for Team!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Going to MAC!

Three day USDAA trial this weekend. I decided that I should have some goals for the weekend. Or rather I should have some reasonable goals. Since we are changing our approach to performing (emphasis on speed and fun, less so on Q rate!), I can't ask the same things now. For my own accountability, I had better put this in writing...

In line with my new philosophy, I want to see:

*Dog RUN from start to finish. To achieve: I will stay out of her way as much as possible (rears instead of fronts, TELL not show what to do). I will pick courses in flow when I have the option. I will mark it ("YES! GO!") asap when I see her committing to the the right obstacle. I will run and run some more.

*Will Dog's contacts will hold up. We've been doing a lot of racing, especially on the DW to enforce it in her mind that she no longer should stop. Will they be fast? Will the show hit % be as good as the practice %?

*Competitive times, particularly in Jumpers. So many jumps, so many options, makes for so much thinking aka hesitation. To achieve: set lines and let her run ahead. Hopefully the courses will allow this!

We have a Texan this weekend; from what I can see the judge's courses favor the "run from behind" method so that should help me.

My issue here- I am a control freak! Normally, my dogs have had personalities that allow me to, nay, force me to be in charge and demanding. But it turns out, Dog is a control freak too. So as a compromise, I have to let go of the control a bit in order to let Dog GO. There you have it Dog, you get some free reign, er... leash, back. I trust you to pay attention- this is going to be a bit different than the other shows (but more like practice where you have lots of fun!). I will still be there, telling you whats up, but you are going to get some independence to make your own choices.

I think if I do my job this should work out OK.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where we have already been- Part 2

Before you can decide where you're going, you have to look at where you've been.

When we first started working together she had pretty much no foundation. A good sit stay at least. No heeling- not even playing Peanut Butter Spoon Follow the Leader (Dog says WHAT. I missed a game with Peanut Butter? Can we do this now please?) No restrained recalls. No wobble board. No- well, I could go on.

So because we went through classes together rather than working on our own (remember, the first year of training she lived away from me), she was in the hands of our school's general program. Not always what I would do personally, but again, Improv. We tried it all their way. I did very much like the approach to jumping- Linda Mecklenberg, thank you! Otherwise, the program included 2o2o contacts. Channel weaves. A few minutes once a week over each piece of equipment.

We ended up with creepy contacts. A dog with no foot work on weaves because they went together too quickly. Teeter fear. No intensity. Well, intense uncertainty. Her most confident obstacle to perform was jumps. A little TOO confident. Go Dog, well, WENT. She had a strong GO at least, all the way to "China." (Dog says, Well I always remembered to write and bring you back souvenirs. It wasn't all bad.) So that is where we were at about 18 months.

These issues were a total of several things, the lack of foundation, inconsistent/infrequent training, no early bond, and her personality. So with these things in mind, after I acquired her fully, we started obedience, foundation and re-training obstacles, and would partake in general ice-breaker activities (Dog says, I really enjoyed the 'Two Truths and a Lie" icebreaker. And playing ball on the couch.). We did much more groundwork, learned some directionals and eventually I reigned her in with these tools. Don't worry, she still makes the occasional journey to China.

I realized when exercises became more complicated that she hates to be wrong (Dog says, It's true! I also believe that you should measure once, cut twice.) and would slow down to think so she could always choose correctly. By the time we reached Masters early this year she was thinking an AWFUL lot. I figured then, that the more I arm her with ("Lefts," "Rights," and other maneuver commands, discrimination talent, obstacle independence) the more I could communicate and the better she'd feel. (Dogs says, Knowledge is Power.) I found that she never needs a correction. Breaking the exercise is enough and is only used when things are really bad. The initial contact zone creeping was just her trying to make sure she was doing the right thing. In a big move, we said goodbye to the stop on our contacts all together.

At about the third birthday or one year after getting her and one year of solid retraining I was pretty happy. The TEAM was there. But I still could see some of the old hesitation. Sometimes things weren't fun for her, I could tell there was still a lot of stress in her mind. I started re-evaluating our status. I moved from pretty happy to pretty determined that I could turn no-go situations into GO. But how? I'd employed everything I knew. Research time! Then I found...Silvia Trkman. Yes I know I am behind the times. But who cares, I found her at just the right time. Everything about this trainer's philosophy fits my needs! Fun? Check! Positive? Check! Confidence building? Check! Speed Inducing? Check! My checks don't do it justice, but go to her site. GO. It's where Go Dog and I are heading.

Assessment requires inventory. So, what do we have now at 3.3?
A philosophy we can believe in with methods to put it into action.
A Dog that cares.
A Project Lead that thinks the Dog can GO anywhere!
Technically, we also have:
A good running A Frame.
Nice Teeter.
Excellent Jumper.
Distance work.
A huge catalog of commands to be used at our whim.

That's a lot of good things! But because this is all about GOing for it, we need to think also about what we need:
Recovery- Dog will need to regain momentum faster after a slow down or collection.
To understand the dogwalk a little better. Sometimes we run nicely, sometimes we feel we should have a stop again. Not sure why that makes occasional appearances.
Muscle memory on weave poles!
For it to be ok for me to get ahead. Because we do a lot of front crosses, when I move ahead she will hesitate in anticipation of the cross. This issue includes the lead out situation. I cannot lead out or she will not run off the line.
Maybe a little less China sightseeing. It seems that when there is an open space on course, the Dog must fill it... with herself.
To reward more more more. Focus is on the GOOD from now on (For MY background, I am used to taking fast and making it consistent, not taking consistent and bringing out the fast. It has been hard to decide to make the trade, but I think it is best to for Go Dog to get to GO).

And a big roadblock: I feel positive stress (Eustress, psych heads) during tournaments. I am exhilarated, I am excited, I am filled with happy endorphins that want to RUN. The Dog reads any stress from me as negative stress, placing her in Distress. My wish is for her to learn to feed off my positive stress in a positive way. This might call for couples therapy, but it's going in the plan for improvement anyways.

There we are. Assessment complete, for now. Time to start breaking these things down and working on going for it. Project Go Dog is officially, well, a GO!

Wait, where are we going, exactly? Part 1

Oh yeah, um, introductions are in order. Well, in sum, this space is serving as the staging area as I put into motion my handler and dog improvement plan (Dog says WHAT. This is the first I’ve heard of any ‘improvement.’ I’m just FINE. Now give me a treat.) Because organization is FUN… and necessary… when you are undertaking a whole revamping of your approach to Agility. And maybe someday I would like a recorded history of what went wrong!!! :D Just joking… hopefully.

So, Dog asks, where are we going? Why are we doing this instead of, I dunno… eating treats and watching Shark Week reruns? I like when the music goes "bum ba BUUUUM." Good questions. Let’s look at the preponderance of evidence here in the case for the idea of improvement. First up: Dog. “Dog” is Shiver, a smallish black and white Border collie with largish ears.

Behold, largish ears...

She is 3 (and some change) years old now. I began training her for the breeder when she was about one. I knew it wasn’t an ideal situation, this owner/handler conglomeration is always a tricky dynamic, but I could see from the start that this girl was a diamond in the rough (Not unlike Aladdin and let’s face it, it was either I run her or hello breeding program.). Our interaction was about one-two nights a week. In the beginning, I tried to make a plan of action for her (her contacts will run like THIS, her jump training will be THAT, etc), but one-two nights a week and no control over what happened behind the scenes at home resulted in less of my plan and more of Improv Night at the comedy club. But being a smarty, she caught on to the game of Agility anyways and before we knew it she was a limited release into the world of showing, select rings nationwide at about 18 or so months old. I entered her occasionally and not more than a run or two a day for a few months.

To be entered into Evidence: Early Trial, June 2009

During this time it became clear that in order to achieve her potential she required MORE than the situation allowed. More training, more experience, more confidence, more attention. So I launched a campaign to procure her for myself (unofficial start of Project Go Dog!). Success came on her second birthday and she was MINE. (Dog says The End, happily ever after, where is my treat?) Oh here you g- wait, no. Hold on there. This part was just the beginning. Silly Dog, this is another reason I am Project Lead. If you were in charge all we’d do is eat treats. You see, although she was fast enough for a lot of people, and pretty consistent, there was a… disconnect.While it might be enough for some people to Q and advance up through the levels, there was room for improvement. Particularly, I needed to have a sense of TEAM, and part of that meant that she would love to play as much I as did. Ideally, to love to play the game WITH me (as opposed to having her own private agenda). Mostly, I wanted her to have JOY from doing.Obviously the procurement was phase one. Proximity- check!

Phase two-making the TEAM- was trickier. I had her yes, but I was a stranger to her. She didn’t have any real faith in me, or herself because of that-after all, I only came and went in her life until now-where was the constant that a dog needs? So now it was time to bond. It wasn't instant, but eventually through a LOT of hard work (more on that later…) we're now in a vastly improved state of togetherness.

Enter into Evidence: Togetherness

She has become a great companion and has really thrived in this past year, with her confidence coming up and showing some joie de vie. And I’m feeling that ESP-like TEAM connection I was longing for. She is trialing a LOT in EVERYTHING and has a brand new ADCH to show for it. We are even heading to the USDAA nationals in a mere 6 weeks. BUT. (Dog says BUT? What but? Didn’t you just get through saying how awesome I am?) But we can do more. That's why we're doing this- we can! Why settle when you can GO?

Where are we going? Upward and Onward. SO. The Project begins… (Dog says Dramatic, don’t you think? I think I have chills. Can I still Go with chills?) First step- review training and set some goals...