06 October 2009

In this episode, channeling a famous dog detective helps us solve the mystery. Sort of.

So a gracious reader, Eileen, gave me a really good detective tip. As in, why are you channeling Detective Nancy Drew, who is not even real, when you could be thinking about mystery solving along the lines of a REAL dog detective. Such as Scooby Doo. Who is pretty much real. Like real for a cartoon dog detective.

Duh! Why didn't I think of that?

She also suggested Velma, who is pretty much the brains behind Scooby and friends (and I do mean original Hanna Barbera Scooby, not more recent 3-d animation Scooby because that totally would not count). Made perfect sense to me.

Scooby Doo, works like this. The gang, sits around in a colorful van with beanbag chairs and smokes pot. Eats sandwiches. Works on a problem, usually something like a ghostly knight that is haunting the orphanage. Solves the problem with skills of logic and reason. Catches the criminal and turns the criminal in to the police, who always turns out to not be a dead person at all but just an evil villian who then goes to jail. Then they get back into the van and smoke more pot. Then drive to the next crime scene.

Agility, works like this. Sit around in a van or under a tent. Smoke pot? Eat sandwiches. Work on a problem, maybe a sneaky snookers course or how to reset the timers. Solve the problem with skills of logic and reason. Ace the course and skillfull handling and training eliminates the chance of dead people. No police need to be involved. Smoke some pot? Drink some beer? Maybe just eat a free workers lunch. Finish up and move on to the next dog show.

Pretty much the same thing.

I came to this genius conclusion while I had the dogs out practicing yesterday morning. I let Otterpop and Ruby run a little bit, everyone did gamblers practice. Otterpop and Ruby were SO HAPPY to run a little. And Gustavo was happy to have his friends back with him practicing and was running super and perfect teeters, poles, tables, dogwalks. Like back to normal happy joy joy up at forest agility.

We were running around, and I was thinking about Scooby Doo and getting a good right turn at a distance, when suddenly it came to me.


Duh. Just had to think like Scooby Doo. Think like a dog!

Scooby Doo likes to run, mostly with Shaggy. And they're always running away from...Dead People!

Gustavo likes to run. More than anything else in the whole world. More than eating or playing or agility or anything. Running. Give him enough room and he just runs and runs and runs and runs. Totally his favorite part of agility. Running just makes him happy.

This Scooby Doo clue seemed really important. So I made a spreadsheet.

Then my expensive washing machine had a flood and I had a short panic attack but used my newly sharpened brain skill power to fix that promptly. But it did get the spreadsheet all wet.

To make a long story short, which is certainly not my strength and not sure why I'd start doing that now, but seeing dead people on the agility course is clearly related to all the parts of agility that involve stopping. And a little related to things that involve slowing down. And Gustavo's best parts of agility, that are just jumping and running into tunnels? Going fast and not having to slow down or stop? Ha! No dead people.

I have tried to make those parts of agility just as fun as the running. Lavish praise and rewards since day 1 of foundation skilz. But somewhere in the whole dog show thing, where there were less rewards in the ring, did the stopping turned stressful and causes dead people? Would this account for how he can run just fine in Masters Jumpers which involves no stopping until the end, but not make it around Starters Standard which has all kinds of stoppy, slowy bits? And just like Scooby, if a teeter totter slams you once in the ass are you always going to be a weenie scaredy cat about it? But then still go on to solve the crime anyways?

In Scooby Doo, the gang ALWAYS comes out on top. Dead people or ghostly nights or evil glow in the dark robots, ALWAYS end up in jail.

So if agility is basically just one big Scooby Doo narrative, then we must be on the right track.


Jen Lindsay said...

Hey Laura, my little terrier behaves a lot like Gustavo at trials. Has meltdowns, usually about contact obstacles. He usually is fine in Jumpers. I think there is a lot more for them to think about and worry about when we throw obstacles in the mix. A couple of months ago I just came to conclusion that I need to just have my dog do what he loves about agility - run! So all contacts are now running, and I'll usually walk a short course along with the regular course, so if he starts seeing dead people, we have a clean exit that to him may feel like we completed a course successfully. Yes, I am throwing away a chance at a Q, but he is getting more confident, fewer meltdowns, and I am setting him up to be successful. This is a dog who, like Gustavo, is a dynamo in class - trials just seem to overwhelm his little brain.

Anonymous said...

I have a dog that is similar actually- stopping is bad! He hates it. We too are in masters Jumpers and can't get out of Starters Standard because of the stopping on the table. It took me forever to get the weaves fast enough for him, but now he's good. The teeter- guess what? It was not fear for him, it was because he had to slow down to tip it. Take Gustavo to a NADAC trial where there is no stopping on course and see if it happens there. It doesn't for my dog. I don't have a full solution yet, but knowing the problem is half the battle.

Elayne said...

If only they'd let us take the Scooby Snacks out on the course at the trial...

Elf said...

Scooby snacks would slow Tika down and she'd start tripping over agility obstacles and convenient handlers to get to the treats. So doesn't work for everyone. I think that photographs with circles & arrows & paragraphs on the back of each one explaining what each one is, like you're doing, is obviously the best strategy. And if that fails, maybe listening to Alice's Restaurant a couple of times will provide additional thought-provoking logic.

Plus my secret word today to post this comment is "facound" which is clearly "fact hound" with the middle letters removed, so I think we're on the right track.

Double S said...

Captain-- have you considered putting Goo's fave thing in the world, RUNNING, on cue??? Then you could use the cue to run as a direct reinforcer for stopping. Kind a like how in Control Unleashed the author uses the cue "go sniff" as a reinforcer for attention/eye contact with dogs that like to sniff to distraction. I have been playing this little Jedi mind trick on my spaniel, and I have to say that it is aces.

I'm sure that you and your mystery-solving mind can find a way to harness the power of RUNNING in Gustavo's world. Just make sure that you're training the Goo, and that the Goo isn't training you!

Good luck... and if you need more Jedi mind tricks to use on Gustavo, I would highly recommend reading CU. Just a thought...


team small dog said...

Yes, we kind of worked on the teeter totter ala CU during the major retrain. Like running away from the teeter for touching it, jumping on it, etc. until he was doing super teeters. I have been thinking along these lines for him. He kind of fits the profile of a dog this stuff would work on very well.

Where is my copy of the book? I lent it to someone a long, long time ago and I think I have to re-read-this is serious business now!