the sheltiechick blog

Memorial Day Agility Weekend, and Georgie’s New Title!

This weekend we drove down to Glen Carbon for three days of agility. Whenever I have a day off work for a holiday, I like to try and squeeze in three days of agility, since it gives me an extra chance to snag some Qs without having to take any vacation days. I’ve been hesitant to go down to Glen Carbon for a long time because it’s a bit far and the hotels aren’t very cheap. I hated to make a big, expensive trip out of it and waste all that money on brand new baby dogs who aren’t quite on their game yet, but my friends wanted me to go, so away we went.

I also decided to enter Auggie in one day, just for fun. Auggie and I haven’t really done any practicing since before Louisville, and being semi-retired, I don’t really care what he does, so it was just for the fun of running my old man. He ran both rings on Sunday and actually had some really nice runs. His jumping wasn’t the greatest since we haven’t done any work, and he knocked the final bar on the triple jump in both rings, and he also decided 11 weave poles were plenty, BUT – he was really running quite fast for Auggie runs. If he had Qd in standard he would have gotten about 10 points, and jumpers would have been about 4 or 5, which might not sound like much, but for a dog who had a career plagued by trying to make SCT, it’s a pretty big deal. The other big deal was I did all of this without using any treats at all with him. All of our warm-up and playing before his runs was done with his shark tug. This is a dog who wasn’t really into tugging for many, many, many years, and only really started to tug when he was six years old. Despite NQs it was really pretty awesome for Auggie, and of course, it’s always the best thing in the world to run my big dog.

Payton and I have spent the past two weeks doing self-control work and some more proofing on contacts. We also did some weave pole work, but that’s sort of frustrating for me because I cannot make the dog miss weave poles in the backyard. He’s excellent about it and I felt like I wasn’t really working on what I needed to be working on by flinging him into 12 weave poles from various difficult angles. Perhaps the weaves were really what we needed to work on, because all weekend long, Payton did not complete a single set of 12 weave poles. He made some entries. He also missed some entries. He did a few poles, and also skipped a few (several.)
On the upside, his startline stays were really great all weekend long. I have been hesitant to do a lot of lead outs with Payton because, in the backyard, he will sometimes decide the fastest way to release is to simply go around the jumps rather than actually taking the jumps in front of him. I hate to blow a run just because I’m trying to do a lead out, and given that my sport of choice is running, sprinting to keep up with my dog is well within my physical abilities, so I haven’t done a lot of them. This weekend I decided to try it, wondering if the extra self-control required to not break a stay might help with control on the rest of the course, too. I can tell you it doesn’t bleed over into self-control on the rest of the course, but he did several nice lead outs for me, including one through a tire jump, which it wasn’t too long ago that we had tire issues. His contacts were also pretty nice. The a-frame wasn’t what I wanted, but I wasn’t getting what I wanted from the a-frame in practice either, and I’ve been considering re-training the a-frame with the Rachel Sanders method to a running a-frame and reserving the 2o2o for the dog walk. He wasn’t called on the a-frame all weekend long, so there’s that. This weekend he actually chose to complete the teeter, waiting for it to tip rather than adopting our last agility weekend’s style of running up the teeter, pausing for about a quarter of a second, then diving off the side because it wasn’t tipping fast enough and he needs to GO GO GO GO! His dog walk, however, which is what I’ve really been working on, was rather nice. The first day he held it properly. The second day we had a minor fiasco at the table and I was a little irritated, so I held him on his contact for a LONG time. The third day I admit I was irritated at him because he didn’t get his weave poles and ran past the dog walk, only issuing one “touch” command as I blew far ahead of him, and he cleared off the down plank without getting anywhere near the yellow. Bad trainer for letting my irritation get to me and failing to try and maintain my own criteria.
A contributing factor may also be that this weekend, I tested out giving him multiple “touch” commands. Part of me hates to do this, because part of me really believes I should only need to give my dog one command for him to respond properly. I don’t have to tell my dogs to “sit” multiple times. I do not have to, nor do I, chatter “stay… stay… stay…” to my dogs to get them to stay. I do not have to tell him “jump jump jump!” So why should I have to tell Payton “Touch, touch, touch” on the agility course? One should be enough.
But the reality is that so far, one has NOT been enough. I also will happily tell my dogs “tunnel tunnel tunnel!!” to really drive and send them to a tunnel. The other part of me doesn’t care about this, remembering an article in Clean Run written by Silvia Trkman about how she talks a lot to her dogs and repeats commands like “tunnel tunnel tunnel.” So why, exactly, should “touch” be any different than “tunnel?” If I say “tunnel tunnel tunnel” to encourage them to drive forward into a tunnel, “touch touch touch” should encourage drive down to the contact. And with only a very small amount of data (three days this weekend), it appears multiple commands to Payton WILL get him into his position. It’s not like I’m trying to be on the World Team or anything anyway, I’m just trying to enjoy a sport with my dog, and if giving him multiple commands is the difference between an NQ and frustration and a Q and success, why shouldn’t I?

So that’s where things stand with Payton at the moment. Still work to do on the contacts and some challenges with weave poles. I will fully admit that excepting the weave poles and some weird table issues, most problems from this weekend were 100% my fault (resulting from bad handling position or one time I set him up too close to the start jump), and there were also things that looked really, really good, and should make me very proud of my young baby dog. I am confident we’ll eventually get there as a team, it’s just going to take time. I still haven’t learned that Payton is not Auggie and I cannot run Payton just like Auggie. There’s a lot of physical muscle memory stuff going on that I need to break from four years of running Auggie and less than a year of running Payton. It will happen, and once it does, I believe we will be beautiful. At this point you can cue Georgie Harrison and start singing “It’s gonna take money, a whole lotta spending money, it’s gonna take plenty of money, to do it right child. It’s gonna take time, a whole lotta precious time, it’s gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right child.” YEP.

HOWEVER.
The real exciting moment of this weekend is that Georgie had some phenomenal runs of her own. After picking up the first Open Q in jumpers at our last trial, she followed up her performance by snagging a jumpers Q on Saturday, missing one on Sunday by one refusal, and then grabbing her third and final OAJ leg on Monday. So the baby girly has now blown past her best friend Payton and has her OAJ. She also was one refusal away from her first standard leg on Monday. She’s a very good dog and everybody had great things to say about her. A nice, steady dog. In my head I imagine she’s out on the course singing to Payton “Anything you can do, I can do better!” So in honor of the great little girly, here’s the video of all three of her OAJ qualifying legs:

So big congrats to Georgie! Now she gets to start chasing Excellent legs. She really only needs to get a few kinks ironed out with her weave poles and a few other baby dog things, and otherwise I think she’s going to be quite phenomenal.

So that was our long weekend, some ups and downs, plenty of alcohol was had by me, but overall, I remembered that even a bad weekend at agility is better than a good day at work. Fun was had by all. I’m pretty sure bad baby Pay had the most fun of the whole crew.