I brought Bel out of temporary retirement for one day of a Claudia Bates seminar this past weekend. It feels great to be running her again in a challenging setting (even if we are both somewhat out of agility-shape). We learned so much and had a great time trying out some of the ‘fancy’ moves I have been reading about. However, the thing that is really hanging in my thoughts after this weekend is the value of a good seminar presenter.
I have been to a variety of seminars over the years at a range of prices. I have come away from rather expensive day long seminars feeling as if I spent the day in a hammock watching re-runs of an old television show. It’s comforting and pleasant, but not what I am at a seminar for.
This weekend was an example of everything I look for in a seminar:
-experienced instructor successful on local and national level
-discussion of handling strategies prior to running
-efficient instruction balanced with respect for personal style
-insightful suggestions on how to provide clear cues for my small dog
-organized approach and ability to keep things moving
-vigorous encouragement to get all you can from your runs
I came away from one day of a seminar sore, exhausted and *exhilarated*. My dog had a great time and I have a lot to work on. I got my money’s worth many times over yet was left wanting more. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
What a fun weekend. I paired up with Cinco, the sweetest malinois on the planet, and Elise, the famed dog-stealer. (All joking aside, it takes a really good handler to be able to adjust their handling to so many dogs!) We came out of the weekend with a PVP Q and a 6th place overall.
Bella took first place overall individual in the 12″ PVP division. I was so proud of our runs and she was having a blast running at 12″ in USDAA (and then lazing around in my husband’s lap….
Things started looking up on day 2 of nationals. I didn’t feel the same disconnect with Bella as in our ISC runs, but my nerves were still there. Our runs were still overall pretty pokey, but there were some moments where I started to see her speed/confidence coming out. Bel stuck her dogwalk contact in standard (perhaps a bit too well) and we managed a clean round. The final jump almost sent her right out of the ring though and I had to call her back quickly!
The hybrid round went pretty well until the A-frame where I looked ahead to see where I was going and broke eye-contact at a crucial moment. If you watch the video, this is what happens when you break eye contact with your dog!
Overall it was great fun and a very educational experience. We clearly aren’t finals material. Unfortunately some handlers view this as me selfishly wasting their time. Everyone has to start somewhere though and I’m not going to give up on the dream. Someday it may just come true….whether Bel is the one there with me or simply the amazing little dog who guided me through the first steps. I sure am going to have fun trying with my favorite little sheltie partner regardless!
If I had to sum Friday up in one word, it would be disaster!
Bella and I were so disconnected. I was fighting my nerves in such an intense environment and she was overwhelmed with the atmosphere. Our Jumpers run featured a threadle, which Bel read as a 180. She would never have done that in practice, but I guess the atmosphere of nationals created so much of a disconnect that she wasn’t able to read my cues the way she normally does. For Bel with threadles I normally have to be careful not to give too many turning cues and really support the first jump with forward motion and a strong verbal “jump”. That certainly wasn’t the case here though! Things disintegrated from there with a missed weave entrance.
Standard was no better. I still didn’t feel the connection and she popped out of the weave poles early. Maybe I should have made my front cross a bit wider giving her more room to enter the poles with extension, but either way she should have stayed in. My handling was pretty iffy after that with some poorly executed turns and lateral sends.
So of course the only thing to do after these terrible runs, was to go for a walk, tell my dog she is the most amazing agility partner in my world and hope we can grow from this experience.
Best agility partner in my world.
I’ve been doing a lot of foundation type work with Chipotle lately. One of the big things I’ve been targeting is his complete and total lack of rear end awareness. Chip didn’t seem to have the slightest clue that his back legs were there, so we’ve been doing a lot of work stepping into baskets, circling with front paws on a book, ball work and just all sorts of random exercises.
Last night while I was at work my husband was hanging around in the office. The laundry basket must have been in there from one of our earlier sessions. Apparently at one point he became aware that Chip was standing in the basket staring at him. He looked over at Chip who proceeded to begin ‘helicoptering’, the term we use for wagging his tail so fast and hard that it is just going in crazy circles. I guess he was just so proud of himself that he had to show daddy.