Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Numero Uno!

I registered this blog well over two years ago. So, as far as projects go for me, I'm right about on schedule with the timing for post Numero Uno (and it's gonna be a long one, so get comfy). I will do something eventually to catch you up on life with Zainey over the past three years (maybe I'll sprinkle some retrospective/soap-opera-like flashback posts in with current events), but for now, here's your briefing of where we are in our journey together! ...

Zainey is officially a competition agility dog! That's right! You heard me correctly, the reactive dog who for so long couldn't handle close distances to other dogs and who, just eight months ago sat shaking with fear in the facility where class is held, now has five qualifying runs under her belt with one 3rd place, three 2nd place, and one 1st place ribbons! I can get teary-eyed thinking about all of the challenges we've faced along the long road we've travelled to get where we are, so instead I'd like to focus on acknowledging the dog that she is today. I'm not saying her issues have vanished as that will never happen. Zainey will always be more challenged in this life than most dogs, but with confidence building, training, and patience (nurture) we have been able to build a better foundation for her than what she was born with (nature).

I will not go into the fact that she's 'only' competing in CPE agility (the 'easier' organization to compete in) or that it's 'only' level one, because I am not going to diminish our accomplishments. So, without further ado, here she is in all her glory...

We ran 6 courses over 2 days (max is 5 per day, but I did not want to over do it), this was our first, and it was the only run where we did not qualify and place. In all honesty, it was not pretty...

Oct. 29 Standard Level 1 - Round 1
Guess what? It's my favorite run of the weekend because it shows what's really important for us which is working together as a team; trusting each other, even when we're both a little unsure. 

Let's break down this run:
  1. A decent start line stay (for us anyway) especially considering it was her first time in a real competition arena
  2. She passed right by the first jump in order to get to the dog walk since she loves contact obstacles
  3. She missed the third jump due to a combination of nerves/distraction and maybe not strong enough signals from me given the circumstances
  4. I got flustered and did not rear cross the A-frame which put me out of correct handling position.
  5. I was in the wrong position for the fourth jump, she knew that, and we got all wonky
  6. We finished on a good note and she came out of the tunnel with a big ol' doggy smile!
So, to sum up, the judge signaled one 'off-course' for all 4 paws hitting the contact on the dog walk out of sequence and another for back-jumping that third jump = NO qualify for you (I heard the soup Nazi in my head!!!) Awesome news for our training buddies though, Patty and Sophie qualified and took 2nd place!

In the next run we had this to look forward to ...

Oct. 29 Jumpers Level 1 2
We qualified with a first place blue ribbon and she wasn't even moving at her fastest! Woo-Hoo!

Breaking it down:
  1. Good start line stay
  2. A decent front cross coming out of the tunnel
  3. A bunch of basic circle work
  4. Finished with a smile!
Essentially an easy course for her and probably exactly what she needed to help ease her nerves.
Next up, our final run of the day...

Oct. 29 Standard Level 1 - Round 2
Much better than our first standard, we qualified with a third place yellow ribbon. She was getting more comfortable by the afternoon and showed it by tilting her fearful little head to look around a little as she came off the dog walk (I'm more than fine with that if it means she's a little more relaxed). 

Breaking it down:
  1. A slight falter at the start line
  2. Nice little twizzle at the front of the A-frame (she's a pro at sticking those contacts when I ask for it)
  3. Missed that darn corner jump on to the dog walk again
  4. Finished strong and happy!

There you have it, day one of our first trial. This is what we've been working toward for so many months with weekly classes, private training sessions, and lots of practices. The work to get us here started long before that though, it started when our shy little puppy turned out to be a reactive dog that was afraid of the world and didn't quite know how to cope. These videos show how far she has come and that she's not just coping, but some days she's even coming in first place! Numero Uno!

I warned you that this first post would be long. I wasn't kidding and guess what? Yup, you've still got day two of the trial to look forward to!
(I promise my posts will get shorter.)

The End!... (of day one anyway)

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