Friday, June 29, 2012

Agility Retrospect...(part 3)

One Day.
One Mission.
Complete our level 1 requirements by qualifying in Jackpot!
(Oh, and also try our hand/paws at level 2 Standard - as in, perform the weave poles and teeter in public).

DONE! ...and... DONE!

Jackpot, our final level 1 requirement is complete. Yea! ...
It didn't go as smoothly as I (or Zainey) would have liked, for sure, but we did it. Z fell off the A-Frame, or more accurately, she launched off the A-Frame. Whoopsy! One of the people working the ring (I won't say who) observed that it was due to my approach, being such a green handler, that I needed to not 'leave' her at the approach to the A-frame, and that I'll learn how to manage that better in the future. ...<Ahem>... Okay. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the tire to A-frame approach was at a 90 degree angle and by the time we ran, the non-rubberized equipment set up outdoors on grass was visibly wet from all the dogs that ran before us.  Luckily, this is one of the few courses where the A-frame is not faulted and, while I was prepared to stop our run right then and there, Z bounced right back and was ready to keep on truckin'. Granted, my course plan fell apart a bit at that point and we just kind of muddled though, but we finished strong (no 'sniffy' or other distractions in the gamble portion) and in 1st place! Pretty good for her first time running on an outdoor course where the distractions are tenfold and she had to run up a slippery slide!

A thought about being receptive to advice as my own knowledge grows and I learn to trust myself:
I know there are areas of my handling that need improvement (where I basically suck) and I know there are certain obstacles on the course where Z requires close management; we are still quite new at this. I know it and the trainers that work with us know our strong and weak points. the A-Frame is not an obstacle that Z has issues completing from any angle. You could serve her a martini, drop her out of a spinning helicopter, and she'll nail the long it's not like a wet slip and slide! One of Z's trainers was there that day and was able to confirm (for my own peace of mind) that my analysis of the situation was pretty right on. I appreciate and welcome the feedback of more experience agility handlers that I meet, and I've received some very helpful advice, but I'm also learning to trust myself in situations where I know what I know. I will never agree that a handler should have to babysit the approach to an obstacle in order for the dog to be successful. Quite the opposite, I have learned from trainers who compete at very high levels that until you can get distance from both your dog and the equipment on the course, you will be missing a key ingredient that allows you to progress to higher levels. So, with that, I smile and say thank you to whatever anyone offers in the way of advice (and wait to roll my eyes after I walk away if I think it's a bunch of hogwash).

Standard level 2. FINALLY! As I     think I mentioned previously, level 1 only requires two qualifying runs on a standard course in order to move up to level 2. We have SIX. Two that count toward our level title and four for practice, I suppose. Because Z was still not a fan of the teeter and had wonky weave pole performance anywhere besides our backyard or class, I took my time moving her up to level 2, and as you can see by the video here, the teeter is still not her favorite piece of equipment. All in all, the run was good though. Nice lead out pivot, slow (but accurate) weaves, a rear cross at the second tunnel entrance (I chose not to front cross the first tunnel and put her on my left because I was afraid she'd take the wrong tunnel entrance coming off the A-frame. The finish was hilarious; I do not have a running contact (meaning she should 'pause' at the base of any contact obstacle with 2 feet on and 2 feet off the yellow contact zone), but in my excitement, I gave her the 'GO' command with outstretched arm when she was still on top of the dog walk. Whoops. You can see me looking back in the video - I couldn't tell if any of her paws would actually make it into the required contact zone, so I was looking to see if the judge was calling a fault. Lucky for us, she has long toes and that extra oomph gave us 1st place!

We also ran a Jumpers, Level 2 course that day (video at link) and despite the 90+ degree heat, and it being the end of a very long day, we Qualified and took 1st place (not because of speed [ha -we had none], but because we had zero faults whereas the two faster dogs both had faults).

How to bake your dog like a potato!
Kidding of course! - Well insulated, Z stayed cool despite the 90+ temps.

Ice, ice, baby!

Conclusion: We did it! On may 12, 2012 we finally earned our green-dog, level 1 title! As soon as we get the okay from our behaviorist, I plan to get back to trialing where we will chip away at the remaining 13 of 16 required qualifying runs we need for our level 2 title. So, look alive soldier! ...

"Alright - you got your stupid ribbon, can we go home now!?"

1 comment:

  1. Hah! Those videos are so cool. I really want to come watch one of those events. Dad