20 June 2011

The time Gustavo experimented with AKC agility, and I do mean literally, an experiment.

So we did it. We sauntered up to the AKC agility trial in Scotts Valley yesterday, meandering in about 10am. Figured I'd work a little, get Gustavo measured, run our 2 novice runs, help them pack the trailer, and be home by 2 or so.

Turns out, AKC agility takes longer to run. It was a 2 ring trial with a much more leisurely pace than what we're used to. But the array of dogs! My god. Great Danes. Tiny fluffy dogs. Golden Retrievers as far as the eye could see. Poodles and terriers of all shapes and sizes. Dogs with barettes and dreadlocks. A huge change from border collie, border collie, border collie.

Gustavo ran standard around 4pm. I guess I have a lot to learn about AKC agility. Lots of my friends were there, already running. Because they are Excellent. Then most of them went home. No one sticks around for Novice. Except us Novices.

There are extra rules in AKC agility. You put the sticker on your shirt. You get the leash off the chair. You don't let your dog play frisbee on the field over there. You wait to do anything until the timer says GO. We almost didn't break any rules.

Honestly, I knew an awful lot more people there than I thought I would. Lots of my friends from Santa Cruz do AKC agility, lots of my students do AKC agility, and lots of my USDAA pals do AKC agility. So it was sort of like being at a USDAA trial except MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR LEASH OFF THE CHAIR BEFORE YOU RUN OUT OF THE RING.

I remembered this rule exactly once out of the 2 runs. Gustavo was really good about remembering to lay down on his leash once I sprinted over to the chair and got it and threw it down on the grass.

He didn't seem totally focused on his jumpers run, and had a bit of a weak start. He just seemed a little off before hand, a little bit stressed out. Didn't really even want a treat, didn't want to play with the frisbee or anything. So I just started running fast, it was just a gentle loopy course, and I pulled him by a jump but we just kept going. Once he kicked into gear he seemed all right.

On his standard run, I just wanted to get as far as the table then if he laid down on it, run out and go play illegal frisbee on the illegal field with Otterpop. I had her all ready and waiting in the wings. He had a great first part of the run up to the table-awesome startline, great dogwalk, and when he hit that table, almost skidded off and then wouldn't lay down.

But at least he didn't go into a weirdo vortex. Just stood there looking cute and wagging his big fluffy tail.

That's a tough one. I can't pull him out of the ring, that's just so not him. This whole kinder, gentler agility Gustavo agility doesn't involve any walks of shame unless it's an extreme vortex emergency. So I just kept going, which is a dicey proposition since he knows he didn't do the table right and I am sailing into uncharted, bermuda triangle bigfoot waters by doing this.

He ended up bailing off the teeter, zipping by the pole entrance and I totally abandoned ship and just ran into a tunnel and down the last line of the course to the finish. A mayday moment. But not quite a vortex.

Since all my runs now with Gustavo are of the zero expectation, what the hell is going on with him genre, all I can do is find the positives. He didn't freak out. He may not have been able to do a teeter or table or poles, like basic agility elements, but he held it together, stayed fast and did everything else he needed to do. He didn't seem like he was in a panic, just like he got kinda sorta messed up out there.

Yes. Obviously something is wrong with Gustavo. All I can do is try to help him figure out how to get better. He wouldn't eat much at the trial, and he wouldn't eat when we got home. But he didn't check out as far as I could tell. It made me a little crazy the plethora of people telling me I should be happy about him standing there on the table looking all cute because they can do that in AKC. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE Q, peoples. I just want my dog to do agility as fast as he can because he is full of joy, not ammonia, and uphold our training criteria. Q's be damned.

We had a good day, really. Gustavo is like my agility science project at this point. We practice, we go to class, but he can't really do agility in the show ring. I would have liked to have reported that running gentle, happy novice courses near our house fixed his issues. Maybe I had just a little bit of expectation. Do I need to become a Buddhist? For my dog agility? As long as he's happy about it though, I'm going to keep trying. So this probably won't be his last time in an AKC novice ring. Look for us in one near you.


liz said...

There are oodles of AKC trials--like every dang weekend--down here in the Southland. You should head on down, I am sure you'd have nearly as big of a support system as up there.

I am wondering if that was maybe Gooey's first trial experience with a clear mind so he was just feeling it out? Like someone who has been tripping for so long, when they're all cleaned up it takes them a while to reorient to how things work without all that extra stuff going on in their brains? Just a thought... No vortexing is clearly a good start.

And yeah, for Novice usually check in is at 11, which means you dont go for hours after that. Lots of time for coffee drinking and book reading at AKC.

Cedarfield said...

AKC makes up for having fewer classes by adding extra rules. I have been doing AKC for years and still find new ones to break!

team small dog said...

They are every dang weekend up here too, and so close to my house! So this is part of my idea. Short days, ez runs.

He is definitely in a pattern. It's sad his performance at trials has gone so far downhill in some ways, but was good to see in some ways so much better. Like no poles, bummer, but able to play with his toy before going in and then focusing the whole time and no insane tunnel moments, better.

So starting back in a novice ring seems really fitting. How exactly he gets reprogrammed as he starts to feel better, the big project.

Running by the poles, somewhat counter productive, I'm sure. But I'm pretty sure right now I just need to get him a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. Hopefully not setting up a whole new set of problems at the same time.

I think it's just not going to be easy. Which is the thing I want. It should just be easy.

maryclover said...

No expectations is a good thing. It's great to have friends in Excellent when you are in Novice, because they can call you when Excellent is wrapping up and you can show up just in time for your run. AKC has lots of down time, but don't feel compelled to take advantage of it. Sitting around all day in the sun is only fun if you are drinking a cold one.

You have the right attitude and that's what really matters. Gooey will come around and if he doesn't just do what makes him happy.

Nicole said...

I adore your blog and half-heartedly agree with your opinion on Q's
I hope Gustavo feels better!

Anonymous said...

I broke an unknown rule in AKC just a few weekends ago.
So, if you DO go back, and IF you help in a ring by running leashes (which I believed was the easiest thing you can help with) make SURE you run the leashes only WITHIN in the ring... and not outside of it. Seems that's bad. Even if all you're trying to do is NOT be blocking the view of the scribe. Pffft.

team small dog said...

Aha! Next time we go to AKC, we are totally having our Excellent friends give us a wakeup call so we can saunter over at a more better time! Excellent idea for Excellent people!

I did leash running this weekend and did not break any rules! I remembered to put it on the chair every single time. And I have been known to really muck up leash running. This should have helped me remember to run to the chair not the gate but this was not the case.

Elf said...

That car--most cars have, like, P, D, R, N modes, but some have S. You need cars like that for spaces like that.

You're right about knowing people at AKC trials. Sometimes I think there are more USDAA people at the AKC trials than at the USDAA trials. Or maybe I exaggerate.

I worry also about the table in AKC if I were to do it. If you insist on your dog doing a down before you leave the table, is it breaking an AKC rule?

Ruby Rose and the Big Little Angels 3 said...

We all believe in Gustavo. Someday he will take part in a championship parade.