Thursday, February 21, 2013

Push Me/Pull Me

So much to update since I've last blogged!

1. Pushing our Limits in League Play

Pico & I Participated in Winter League Play at the Agility Underground and it was truly a fantastic learning experience. Pico was the only dog there who didn't yet have his Weaves and yet we were encouraged to participate and we had support from everyone there.
League met on Wednesday evenings for 6 weeks and this was our schedule:


Our Team finished in 8th place (out of 8 teams) and we were all thrilled to have been a part of League. Our motto became:

 Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start.   

2. Pulling Some Q's in Trial

Pico ran in his 5th CPE trial on Sunday February 17, 2013 at Medina Swarm. I entered us into all 5 events which included our first-ever Trial Snooker!

First up was Jumpers (Level 2)
Pico had two 'fly outs' but was willing to come back to me and continue the course. On his way back to me, however, he back jumped one jump. The fly-outs also cost us time and he finished in 52.59 (STC 47) with 10 faults so he still Q'd! He will be eligible to run Jumpers Level 3 at our next trial.
Faults or not, I was pretty excited about this run because in his first 4 trials, he was very stressed and erratic in his first runs of the day. The fact that he stayed out there and completed the course on the first run is big progress!

The second run was Snooker (Level 1) and I was so nervous that I spilled coffee all over my course map! Marilyn (Henry) helped me to map out an excellent plan where we would take Red Jump to Obstacle 7, Red Jump to Obstacle 3, Red Jump to Obstacle 2. We would then be right at Obstacle 2 to be able to run our close of 2-7. Marilyn is genius (she gives credit to the dark chocolate she always brings to trials as brain food!). My only concern was that I have never taken Pico through a tunnel (Obstacle 2) and then asked him to turn around and take it in the opposite direction...
Pico had a great Start Line Stay (Good Boy!) and then we were off... And he did the Snooker beautifully! At the end of the Snooker, he looked a bit confused but he followed my turn around and sailed through the close. His Standard Course Time (SCT) was 50 seconds and he ran the course in 48.47 and got 42 points (I'm not sure what those mean) so he got a Q on his first-ever Snooker Run!

Our third run was Wildcard (Level 1)
 We've struggled in this before because the Handler maps out a course with 2 'A' obstacles and 1 'B' obstacle (see below). If the dog takes an incorrect obstacle, you can often correct it by changing your original plan... except, I'm not quite there yet! It's all I can do to get through the courses. I can't be out there thinking on the fly [which is exactly why I can sing and run a course :) ] The last time I tried to correct on the fly, we ended up with 2B's and an A!
My plan was to take Jumps 1, 2 and 3 to Tunnel 4A off of my left. I would then send (Pull!) Pico to the left side of Tunnel 5, Front Cross bringing him out of the Tunnel on my right to Tunnel 6B, Jump 7, 8, 9A, and 10... And it worked beautifully! With a SCT of 47 seconds, Pico ran the course in 29.4 with 0 faults for a Clean, first place Q!

This Q earned him his first title: Handler Games so he is now officially: Pico, CL1-H. He neither knows nor cares about this at all.

I have to admit, I was feeling pretty good with the ways things were going. Our crating space was near the entrance/exit chute which initially made me a little worried but he seemed to be dealing with all the activity fairly well. When possible, we crate as far away from the ring as possible and sort of blockade his crate in so that he's away from fray and less likely to be able to find his own way back. Lord knows he'd never leave a dog-bicuit-crumb trail behind!

Our next run was Standard (Level 1).
I liked the course and planned to start Pico on my Left and run Obstacles 1-6 off of my left, Rear Cross into 7 to put him on my right for 8, 9, 10, Front Cross to send him to 11 off of my left and then 12 and 13 off of my left.
Pico took the first jump and then veered off to go visit the Judge and the Scribe and the Bar Setter before coming back to me to complete Obstacles 2-11. After that initial bobble, all went really well right up until he popped out of Tunnel 11 after which he shot around the far side of 12, past 13, out the exit chute and to his crate! So very close to a Q which we need to advance to Level 2... I ran out after him, and made sure he was safe but never brought out the baby food that he was obviously looking for.

Last up was Full House (All Levels)
With the help of our friends, we mapped out a course. When we all went out to walk the course, we were told that there was a change to the location of the double jump for 'Safety reasons'. This seemed to throw everyone for a loop as the Double was a joker and worth 10 points! Toni (Jack & Chase) came up with an awesome plan and assured me that Pico could do it. When it was our turn, this is what happened:

Me: "Okay, Jump. Tunnel"
Pico: "Jump. Ooooooooooh! A Table waaaaaaay over there!"
Me: "Oh No!"
Judge: "Thank You."

And so the table stopped the game of Full House  for the third time for Pico! At least this time he took one obstacle before hitting the table and I have to look at that as progress. :)
I also have to consider if I may have pushed Pico a little too much by asking for 5 runs.

3. Pushes & Pulls in Class

We are thrilled to be back in class! We have new classmates Kris & her toy poodle Izzy. During our first class we reviewed Lateral Sends and Forward Sends.
This week during our second class, we worked on Pushes and Pulls which take a lot of thought on my part at this time! In shadow handling, if the dog is on the inside of the turn while you are moving, you are pushing the dog away. If the dog is on the outside of the turn while you are moving, you are pulling the dog toward you. These motions also translate directly to the Agility course but it really takes me awhile to figure out which is which! And that's why we are in Dog School!

I was thrilled to see that Pico was really excited about working in class because I was worried that the trial had stressed him too much. It seems like he recovered quickly as he was willing to run courses and work on his Weaves with gusto!

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