Friday, July 22, 2011

Things. Just. Got. Real!

Guess what this is!

Go on, guess! (And don’t just guess “paper.” That’s lame.) 

Give up? Well- it’s a registration form for The Pup’s FIRST SEMINAR!!

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.  I wouldn’t have done it if the seminar weren’t months away. (November.)  I really wanted to attend a seminar by Tracy Sklenar, having heard that she is just wonderful- fun, informative and open-minded (my absolute seminarist ‘must-meet’ criteria!)- from everyone on the planet.  Unfortunately, the “Master Handling” portion was on a Friday and all my vacation is already allocated for the year. That meant that The Pup was going to have to step up and be the working girl, so I signed her up for the Novice Handling day. 

I was pretty much vomiting after I decided to do this- I mean, I haven't worked her in agility more than one or two 10 minute sessions a day.  I have never worked her around other people.  The only thing that kept me from being absolutely sick was the fact that this is several months out- plenty of time to start increasing difficulty. 

But in fact, it turned out to be a REALLY good choice. I was struggling a bit for goals for her at this point. Now, having something to work for, I feel back on track.  So goal driven was I yesterday that I went out on the skimpiest new bud of a branch ever and brought her into a puppy agility class last night.  I continued on my scary limb and put her on the more advanced puppy side, figuring that if she went into total ADHD mode with wanting to chase the other dogs I could defect to the newbie side and work attention only.  

Amazingly, my branch didn’t snap! Project Pup Prep went really well. Like, REALLY well.  She didn’t forget her name, didn’t spaz over every dog/person, and had so much fun she forgot about chasing butterflies and eating clover (ah, mostly).   I had unprecedented attention for the first half, then it waned a bit on the second half (the clover side). But she still stuck with it; only running away to see Marvin once when she wasn’t supposed to. 

Things I learned:
Marvin is a godsend (ok I knew that already)
Clover is catnip for dogs
Long wet grass turns her into Ms. Dainty Paws. She also couldn’t put her butt in the grass and instead sort of crouched.
Watching other dogs run isn’t ALL about wanting to chase. There was definitely a jealousy element. The times I let her watch them run she would run full board on her turn. 
She likes to become one with the equipment. 

I sort of guessed that one before, but it’s pretty obvious what will hold her attention AND enthusiasm- if she can’t go on, over or through it she gets a bit ‘meh.’  She was very much into the contacts, weaves, tunnels and tables (and even the tire!) but when it came to running through jump standards she thought it was lame. Where’s the risk in THAT?? So we need to get more involved with flat work and make it crazy fun, not just a meal ticket.

Overall- really had a good time.  Both of us. And she was…different… after. Not so obnoxious at home- much sweeter and attentive to me.  So we will be going back!
After all, anything that keeps the Decepticon from surfacing is well worth it for that reason alone.  I’m thinking this is the outlet she needs- not enough stimulation and too much being left to her own naughty puppy devices has been…not so good for the house recently.

Exhibit A.

Um... I didn't do it?
Farewell expensive light-blocking blinds. We shall miss you!
Oh, and of COURSE I can’t post without mentioning a certain Dog.  I had a horrible practice with her on Wednesday- bigtime dogwalk struggle.  Really, I blame the heat for the bad practice AND The Pup’s mutilation of the blinds. Watch me reason the crap out of this-

Dis otta be good.
So, it’s HOT and humid and because it’s hot and humid the ground can’t absorb all the water, so it’s all muddy. The mud got all over The Dog and made her all slippery which made her dogwalk performance suck, which made me move the dogwalk out of the mud, which made it too close to the fence, which made her miss it worse.  So when she FINALLY got a rep I chucked the ball hard in joy, which increased her exuberance, which when combined with slick slobber from the heat made the ball SHOOM into the neighbor’s (locked) yard.  The Dog then refused to do any work, so I had to get the ball, which meant shoving the dogs in the house so I could go try to scale the fence without falling on them. This led The Pup, who had not yet been allowed to play because the dogwalk was too high, to throw a tantrum inside, which caused her to pull the blinds off the wall and murder them.

I told ya- I DIDN'T DO IT!!!
See!!?!? Stupid weather.  

Anyways, last night I began Project Make Contact With Contacts- an attempt to get  The Dog on as many different dogwalks as I could and try to get her to run each from the get-go (no encouragement period).  I am pleased to report that phase one was a complete success and she ran EACH dogwalk last night.  One leap and one sticky in there somewhere but ended with her best reps yet. The only downfall is that I cannot yet turn her tight AT ALL without sacrificing stride. All such experiments failed. Eh, homework. 
Tomorrow phase two continues with a fun match!

…I love projects! 

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