What to do?
For the first time, I really love training. It’s crazy, but with Banchor I never had to -we both thought it was unnecessary and bo-ring. Maybe it’s because he didn’t learn, he just... intuited?
But The Dog... she learns! She figures things out! It is amazing to watch. It is harder, but darn it, it is fun and challenging. I could almost just train with her and probably be happy.
Except for the fact that I also love showing. Competition is thrilling, and the test of your training. And I am finally, FINALLY getting to The Zone with The Dog. (As in Comfort Zone, as opposed to Danger Zone.)
Then logically, can I have one without the other? NOT REALLY! I do train because I love to, but also always with a thing called INTENT in mind. I have to be working towards a goal, and for me, that goal is to show successfully. Things (important things) that are an effect of training are the relationship, learning experience, and fun factor. They should happen regardless, so by definition probably can’t be a goal. So if I am training, I should show.
And the other side to that coin… if I can’t train then I REALLY CAN’T SHOW! Right? Logically?
I guess once again my situation is something like:
We tried showing this weekend, with very little training over the past month. No training to recondition contacts since the AKC show. No training to proof new superpowers in multiple environments and scenarios. So Saturday was an unholy mess. Priests lined up to perform exorcisms. We started in Gamblers with a great start; nice contacts, good listening, qualified and first place even. Don’t worry- I am getting to the mess. And here is it:
Then we ran Standard. I tried to pull out some superpowers (blind crosses) that I swear we have been working on for several weeks (PROMISE!!) and, just like that one time when Peter Parker’s Spidey Senses failed him and he fell off the side of the building into the trash, ours failed too. Clearly, I forgot to proof these on spread out sequences, and with tunnels placed to suck the dogs into their vortex. And then she missed her dogwalk.
Then we ran Grand Prix. Ran without being super powered and we were surviving. And then she missed her dogwalk.
Then we ran Steeplechase. You may be thinking, HA! Can’t miss a dogwalk in Steeplechase! And you are right. But you can miss your Aframe. Both times. You can also have a dog SO HIGH that they can’t think and the tunnel vortex tries to suck them in and they run around two jumps.
Then I became so flustered at her horrible, horrible Aframe that I actually told her NO. She then fell over on to the turf after our run and flashed me the pink belly, which made me feel very ashamed so I spent the next 6 hours giving her bribes so she would acknowledge/love me again.
|If she looks sad, it is not because of me- she thought the hotel was GROSS!|
So we both slept on it. She determined I wasn’t a monster and I determined that maybe she was just having a bit too much fun to think about things like proper striding. The facility is VERY exciting, with lots of noise, and it’s very open, so kind of like one big tunnel vortex.
We started with Standard Sunday and while she did an ok dogwalk, it was pretty creepy. She missed her Aframe again, but this time seemed to stutter and wait for me (where did THAT come from??) and then launched. By now I had determined that Dash ‘N Splash was the place where good contacts go to die. I examined every inch of them, checked the height, but could not find anything to truly ‘blame.’
Except of course, the train to show ratio. The ratio that is currently waaay out of balance.
We did manage to qualify in the rest of her runs. Though she missed her Aframe in Pairs (gggaaa!!!!), the course time was generous enough for several missed Aframe contacts. Thankfully, the contacts were then whisked away for the remainder of the day so we got to end on two high notes: Snookers Super Q with a first place, and a Jumpers qualifier to finish off her Bronze Jumpers Championship title thing. It was actually quite a nice Jumpers run for her with one of her best YPS to date and only one moment where she gave me a worried check-in. Plus, no China visits! Normally she is 4 or 5 seconds behind whoever wins, but was just less than 2 off this time (yes, technically still an eternity) - and the winning run was AWESOME.
So yes, it wasn’t all awful. In retrospect, probably much more good than horrible. Her weaves were probably the best they have ever been in a show, and she maintained speed with a swimming stride for every run. Her teeter was also really good- I have been able to work on this some, and it showed. She was not creepy through the tip point, but charged up and waited until I released her. Also- best moment of the show here- she was able to do a long run to the first red in Snookers. This is HUGE- normally she would trot worriedly behind me (or worse, sit and stare at me on the line) if she didn’t know where we were going, but we have been working a lot on running together and recalls into sends and it WORKED! She actually ran. Very happy.
Here is the PROOF!
But the question remains: do I stop entering her until I can actually try to fix the contacts (keeping in mind that I can’t do much serious training until the snow melts)? Do I enter but accept that those are loss causes? I had hoped to get the last two Standard Qs for her Bronze ADCH and the two GP Qs in the winter and THEN stop entering to focus on a total retrain. We seem to have lost the ability to muddle through the contacts though, so that plan may not work.
Not loving these options. Might as well just flip that coin…