08 June 2011

One of those days when the Champion Plan seems like a really dumb idea and perhaps I try to enjoy something like decoupage instead.

We struggled at Power Paws last night. You would think, by now, we'd start to get it together. Most of the time I leave my class feeling humbled, and wondering when we're going to start getting better. Last night was no exception. One or two bonehead mistakes on every run. I'm not sure when perfection's supposed to kick in. I guess that's the whole journey part. Although I'm beginning to wonder if my learning curve looks more like squiggles drawn on an etch-a-sketch.

Sort of squiggles there and back and up and sideways and then you shake it and have to go back to square one and start all over again. I'd like my learning curve to just go upwards, but I suspect I'm the kind of person that is always going to be a little bit scribbly and outside of the lines.

My teacher every Tuesday night is Nancy Gyes. You probably know her. She's the equivalent of the Olympic coach for dog agility. Like how lucky am I to get help from some of the most awesome people in agility? Wouldn't you think I'd be starting to get it together by now, too?

Nancy sits there patiently while we make mistake after mistake. There's some very strong handlers in my class with great dogs, and everyone has to do something over. Nancy's a bit of a dog training genie, so besides showing us which arm to put where, she also has many magical dog training solutions for pretty much any training problem you toss at her. She has good ideas for Gustavo's meltdowns and Otterpop's reluctance to run in a ring when the frisbee has to wait outside.

Most of her advice involves practicing, practicing, and some more practicing. Consistent criteria. Repeated over and over again. Rewarding the right things at the right time in the right place. I think about how many early days I have this week, and how hard it's going to be to get out and do any practicing. Sure would be nice to have my own flat patch of dirt with enough room for a dogwalk and some poles. Ain't a gonna happen though.

The only solution is to set my alarm a little bit earlier, and see if we can go work on our plan, even for a few minutes, on the way out to work. And try to flatten out some of those squiggles and point them up towards the sky. All we can do is try.


Anonymous said...

perfection is highly overrated. you're right about the journey thing. after the perfection line is crossed, there be monsters. so don't go there. just keep it it sight.

Elf said...

I had a lesson with nancy today, in which we established a couple of things in conversation directly related to her post: (1) Neither she nor her dogs are perfect, and she proceeded to prove it several times. I said I was shocked, SHOCKED! (2) Classes are usually way harder and more creative than real courses and most people if they can even come close in class then can go do real courses pretty easily because they *are* easy in comparison.

Elf said...

"...directly related to YOUR post..."

team small dog said...

I like to practice things that are really hard for sure, so I can do the "real" courses more easily. Right now, I am addicted to making weirdo eurostyle sequences and figuring out how to do hard things on them. I love to create drills from hell. And I make Otterpop these horrible gambles so when she does the "real" ones they are a picnic in comparison to mine.

But I just want to do it BETTER. I expect to make mistakes. Just not the mistakes I end up making. I want to make BETTER mistakes.

Well, and no mistakes with Gustavo. It makes him sad when I make mistakes and he can go cuckoo.

Nancy is a great inspiration-we sure are lucky to have Nancy to help us.