15 December 2009

This sort of sounds like a mission statement of couples counseling so just pretend you are Dr. Phil while you are reading it except not as bald.

Gustavo doesn't ever sleep when he's in a crate. He sits alert and STARES. Like for hours in the car. Never once takes his eyes off the back of my head. At agility. STARES. Possibly accessorized by strangly, screamy, monkey noises.

Any time he's in a fenced area, like someone's yard, his first priority is to find a way OUT. Right away. He can squeeze through a rat sized crack. He is obsessed with ESCAPE.

He has never met any, single person he doesn't LOVE. If he meets you for 2 seconds, he LOVES you. He is totally sincere. He LOVES you.

When he is out in open space, it is most important for him to RUN, as fast as he can. As long as he can. RUN fast, and don't stop. It is a bonus if there is something to chase, but not neccessary. The RUN is what's important.

Stare. Escape. Love. Run.

I have been thinking a lot about Gustavo and agility. It's not that he can't do it. Slowly but surely, with a hundred million trillion repetitions of everything, he has learned the behaviors. He can do them in sequence. Under no distractions, he does an amazing job. He is certainly always blazingly fast.

But under distractions, his brain short circuits and I haven't figured out a way to get his brain to either stay with mine, or to click back in to gear quickly. This happens when he's out, and gets a whiff of a critter. He doesn't have the reliable head whiplash recall back to me that the other dogs do. Out in a field, with no distractions, he does, and it's a beautiful thing to see when he tears back in, like a tiny lightning bolt. Under distractions, he does click back in to gear, but it's not instantaneous, and during agility, that equals an extra tunnel, a weave pole drive-by, and perhaps a trip out to the edge of the ring before he whiplashes back onto course. Same thing happens out in the forest, bunnies and deer have the same effect on him as agility.

He's come so far. He made it through a fear period. He made it through the dreaded teeter totter phase. But if we're going to become an actual agility team, I think we have to backtrack to some basics. Foundation garments. Like Mormon underwear. Spiritual foundation garments. Because I think that we have a Training Hole. A black hole. A deep space black hole, like the kind that a spooky space ship could drive out of at warp speed at any time.

We have to fill up the hole. Starting now.

To where Gustavo STARES at me during agility to get information, and uses that particular information to lock in on an obstacle. Not just his own idea. Does the obstacles I am showing him.

To where Gustavo becomes obsessed with NOT ESCAPING, and does not run out of the ring and then run back in. And runs to his leash like he does every single time he practices, and not out to his fan club after a run.

That Gustavo LOVES you, but he mostly LOVES me, and wants to just do the agility with me, not go see every single person he loves and jump on you to get treats.

And most of all, that we both run our fastest and hardest. And then everyone is happy because he gets to RUN.

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