15 February 2011

This is a love fest, but like the kind they had at Woodstock when it rained and everybody flipped out on the brown acid.

All right, we will begin today's lesson with a video from a July trial, where Gustavo does a Team Standard run, the kind WITHOUT a table in it.

We breathe a sigh of relief, and watch it again. Sometimes, he knows how to do agility. And looks like he loves doing it. To our credit, at this weekend's trial, he hit every dogwalk and a-frame contact, had perfect weave poles, and excellent listening and watching of me skills.

However. The dreaded teeter totter fear, which had been gone, came back. That one has a solution. Back to bazillions of teeter totters again, as many as we can do, jackpotting first successful attempt, all the time. Because we have all the time in the world to drive around and road test strange teeter totters. But we'll do it. Again.

Because I'm insane.

The table is a problem I can't re-create. We do lots of tables when we practice, and it's a normal, fun piece of equipment for him. But in about 50% of trials, he goes into a vortex that sends him down under the table, back up, and back under, until I finally drag him off the field. Like my favorite border collie ever in the whole universe, Gustavo won't lay down on the table in trials.

Hobbes, at least, stands there and stares at me. Gustavo goes into the vortex, and stars a cycle of jumping off and crawling underneath, then jumping back on and back underneath, repeating as necessary until I drag him off the field. Those vortex moments, freak me out.

Otterpop. How you vex me, let me count the ways.

1. You are one of the most awesome agility dogs I know. You are crazy fast. You are crazy accurate. You know Greg Derrett rules like a sunnuvabitch. You are a mofo, spot on, gamble queen. You step to the startline, barking and ready to go. And, in an instant that is shorter than an instant, you go squinty eyed, and turn into some Stepford dog that only shows up on startlines of USDAA trials, and start off slow.

2. When you do this, you give the judge the evil eye, and get on top of the a-frame and look like you are about to launch into the judge's sensible sun hat and make a nest in his or her's hair. Or do something worse than hair nest making. And then somehow, after a few obstacles, you snap out of it, and off you go like Otterpop the Not So Evil Again.

3. When this starts happening, I lose my cool and my handling goes to pieces and Houston, we have a trainwreck out there. It's was like shock and horror to see her doing slow weave poles on Sunday. Otterpop. Slow weave poles? I am tearing my hair out here.

Otterpop, to our credit, came home with Q's on Sunday. She racked up another gamble. But it's not Q's that I'm looking for. She has loads of those. Someone told me she made it into 8" Top Ten in something or other last year. I don't care about this with her. I am just looking for my super awesome Otterpop who lives to do agility everywhere else, except for at the startline of runs in select trials.

When I think about my dogs, my heart swells up like a big, bloated, beached whale that is self inflating from noxious gases and about to burst through the thick, rotting whale blubber due to the swollenness of it all. BTW, make sure that if you tell your sweetie you love them this much, that they are like my best ever Valentine's husband and rotting whale blubber exploding all over the place doesn't really phase them. Me and my dogs love practicing and training and running around together. But the secret to getting the same dogs to show up in the show ring, still, after all this time, eludes me.

I seek enlightenment.


Elf said...

Secret to same dogs at shows as at home/practice/fun match: Wish I knew.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted that video. It shows a really focused and happy dog and a jazzed handler. Do you have PAGES of videos like that? Maybe not. I know I don't. But I do cherish the ones I have. If you find the secret to getting the SAME dog every time, I hope you share it. Along with the secret to a SOLID startline stay (which you may not need, but I could sure use)

Diana said...

I feel for you. My dog wont get on the table at a trial either. Does it every place else but not at a trial. She goes into stress mode and starts circling the table. Ugh! Ive tried every thing to fix it. Now I only do runs without tables. And Im ok with that. At least no stress circling in the ring. Im the trial chair for our clubs AKC trials and my dog wont get on the table. Kinda funny I think. I have hope that one day she will forget about the stress if I just dont do any tables in trials for a few years and then magically one day she'll get on. LOL

team small dog said...

We do not have pages of videos like these. There are runs that look sort of like this one, then something goes wrong and there are various levels of abandoning ships or mutinies or sinking into vortexes.

Darn, I was hoping I would come home from work and someone was going to have put The Secret To Same Dog All the Time in the comments. No such luck!

Anonymous said...

Susan Garrett had a Trial Stress Workshop recently and she had us wear our winter coats in her facility with the heat cranked brutally hot and The Partridge family singing "I think I love you" all day long over and over again and the weave poles ending into the corner of the room and not knowing the last bit of the sequence until she shouted it out while we ran or we couldn't walk the course. Shit like that. If you and your dog can endure the stress of all that while training, you both had a fair shot at a trial. I can't say that me and my dog were totally successful at it all, but it sure helped keeping training feel "real".

Jodi, eh? said...

Sorry, that was me, not anonymous above. No need to hide.

team small dog said...

AHA! If we were Canadian, we would be able to solve this problem because we would live down the street from Susan Garrett. Although I would have to go winter coat shopping first.

Kathleen said...

Hey, I have an idea how to fix your table problem. Too long to go into here.

The secret to having the same dog at a trial as at home: be the same handler at trials as at home. Easy to say VERY hard to do....

team small dog said...

I would love to hear the table idea.
Yes, everybody tells me that's the secret, and that's what I always THINK I'm doing. Except clearly, I'm not!

Ellie said...

Here is my answer, hope it’s magic. This comes to you straight from the mouth of a novice. No world champs under this belt. Sign up for more trials, right away.
In the human mind, agility is agility is agility. In the dog’s mind, practice is practice, class is class, and trials are trials.
Our dog was awful at trials. We go to trials every two weeks now, for one day only, and do maybe two events that are her best. No volume discounts for us. Our dog is now doing better at trials, and is now awful in class. Good luck with your wonderful dogs!

team small dog said...

Hi Ellie, I'm glad your dog is improving! I don't know if your answer is magic, but I do know that when I am able to trial for a couple of days in a row, instead of just one, it definitely helps Gustavo.

Once tis the season, we trial pretty frequently, we are lucky to have a lot of USDAA in our area. If I had a different job, we could drive farther and trial more and more and more! Driving to SoCal or Oregon or Nevada or Arizona, though, on a Saturday nite to compete on a Sunday...not sure if even I'm capable of even that level of insanity!

Elf said...

Funny about that, Ellie: I've just been pondering whether doing more CPE and the same or less USDAA would help me and my dog. CPE is like halfway between a fun match and USDAA. Maybe 7/9ths of the way between fun match & USDAA. I'm wondering whether I need that. (Although CPE doesn't do tables any more except sometimes to end gambles & such, too bad, because boost could use more stressed table practice, too. But they do have snooker. And lots more.)

Ellie said...

Gustavo actually gets better if he trials for more than one day in a row? See Laura -he is a star.

Fun matches have worked well for us, Elf. Also, taking the dog to events like the Humane Society picnic and playing goofy games for a buck: bobbing for hotdogs, musical mats, retrieve the blue tennis ball from the sea of yellow ones. Agility it’s not, but it can help the dog gain confidence in unfamiliar situations, or offer something different if they get bored easily.

Elf said...

Fun matches haven't worked for us. Everyone knows we're not at a trial. So my dogs aren't handled by the same handler as at real trials. ;-)

team small dog said...

We did try the CPE's a few years back. Otterpop had a really rough start with her teeter totters, and I went to a bajillion CPE's just to get her on a teeter, and run out and reward. Ruby racked up enough Q's that year to almost earn a CATCH.

I know this helped Otterpop out tons. Ruby ran well at them too, she liked her low jump height. I am sure that my detachment on doing well in CPE helped the dogs be successful, but also, the venue is so different. I didn't really like the CPE trials I went to-it's always fun to do agility, but I just didn't find a lot of challenge in CPE in the courses or the way most of the games worked.

I don't think I would take Gustavo to these, they were a long drive and cost about as much as USDAA. And they don't have a table in Standard! I know I did it for Otterpop's teeter totter, but I sure would like to find another way for Gustavo's trial stress than CPE.

I guess I could think about joining AKC for him, I've never really given that serious thought since we weren't allowed in it until recently. There are lots of AKC in my area. I will think about this.