29 April 2013

First world problems: Scorekeeping and mental health, an epic saga in how does one deal with so many errors?

The meta level problem of Gustavo and agility is that sometimes, he does a great job. He is very fast and has mad skilz. And sometimes, between me and him, we do a shitty job and it all goes to hell. Once it goes to hell, it can really go to hell. Like, who let that lady out there in the dog show ring with that feral animal? And when it goes to hell, I think it causes horrible sadmaking of Gustavo's brain. Which is a sensitive brain with some damaged bits in it. And gives me normal lady sadmaking, which I have learned mental techniques and motivational sayings to help me get over.

Oh, look. Here's one now. By Mr. Firewalking Tony Robbins. You know where to find these things? Just click on facebook. One will float by in a second. He says, from his footbed of hot coals, "No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you're still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying."

Although, guess what. Years of repeated sadmaking seems to be taking a toll. Now I am a limpy, chubby, gray haired sad lady. Pathetic, although is it less pathetic if I'm ahead of other limpy, chubby, gray haird ladies who don't try? I'm no dummy. It's clear that we're not improving. It's the same thing, over again, and despite hard work and effort and creative ideas and motivational sayings, our agility performance in the show ring really sucks, with a smattering of lovely moments in there, like little cupcakes on sticks to keep pulling me along.

This weekend Gustavo had 9 runs, none of them qualifying.
5 are good runs with one error each causing either a NQ or an E.
4 are runs with huge, awful, gut wrenching fiascos occurring during them.

I have this belief that the Masters ring is not the place for huge, awful, gut wrenching fiascos. At some point, where do you throw in the towel when this keeps happening, over and over again? Especially when you believe that each fiasco, that looks like gleeful fast running on the surface, might be making your little dog very sad?

The first day:
Steeplechase-Almost a really great run, but the second time through the poles he skipped a pole in the middle. I didn't see it, but someone else did. I was confused by the whistle, actually. Whistles when I don't know what happen make me jittery, but I held my shit together and we just finished. I don't know why he skipped a pole in the middle, but that's what he did.
A good run, with one weird training or handling error.

Jumpers-Nice fast run, but I sent him out to an extra jump. I think. I didn't see what happened, but that is the only thing that would have caused an off course and got me a whistle. I wasn't running out to a blind, but I was running out somewhere and just didn't see. I have done this before, it's that fast running panic, I just made a mistake. He did nothing wrong, not a thing. Jumpers is our thing. Gooey was #2 in USDAA top ten last year in Jumpers. Goddamn. Me still making dumb mistakes.
So a good run, with one handling error.

Grand Prix-This was a hard course and he had a nice start, and got the very hard weave entrance. But halfway thru the poles he got startled by something outside the ring, I believe it to be a shady umbrella, and leaped out of the poles, and ran away. I tried to call him back and restart the poles but he was afraid to go back in the poles, he was running in circles and jittery. So we moved on but he was all out of control running amuck and everything felt like damage control. Then he refused the teeter and started into tunnels and running under the dogwalk and just a big fiasco. These fiascos look like someone is in the ring with a little untrained fox, and cause judges to scowl.
A bad run with a big fiasco.

Snooker-My plan started with a 7, which were poles right by an umbrella. I had the thought, Change plan! To a lesser plan without the umbrella located poles, but then I also thought, Cowgirl up and just see if he can do them. Frenquently, changing plans turns out to be a bad idea. But this time, turns out, yes, he has a weird umbrellapolephobia now and would actually not go near the poles. He sort of danced around, ran to visit the umbrella and we bailed out. It was a 1 point snooker run.
A bad run with an instant fiasco.

Which led us to Standard. He popped out of the poles at number 8ish. Just flat out popped out and kept running ahead, so I ran along with him because, what else was I going to do? We came upon the table, which he did, but when I released him, it was like I released numerous evil spirits within and he started to run around and it involved many tunnels and a race under the dogwalk until I just started running towards the end and took a jump or two on the way out.
A really bad run with a huge fiasco.

The next day:
Standard. A very hard course. He did a great teeter. He had a refusal into the poles due to my bad placement because of my great amazement at his wonderful teeter totter performance. Bravo! Then he proceeded to have a great run after that including perfect poles and a very lovely table. Go figure.
A good run with one handling error.

Gamblers-I put a teeter in there just to see if it was a fluke or what. Nope, did a great teeter. He had a great opening, very fast and many points! The gamble was a send out to the poles (Otterpop did it easy peasy before him) and he sent out into them beautifully, but popped out at about pole 3.
A good run with one handling and training error.

Snooker-A great opening. I made a fairly conservative plan, a nice plan with tunnels and jumps for a moderate amount of opening points. It had a flow. He did it fast and beautifully, but when he got to the teeter in the closing, no way, no how, nuh uh. Not doing that teeter, not going near it no matter what.
A good run, with a bad teeter ending.

Jumpers-He ran away off the startline to one of his favorite dog pals and his meats. Just ran away, just like that. Like something you would see in the Starters ring, probably. But not the Masters ring. Although I have developed a thick skin and make sure to always tell myself, who cares what anyone else thinks? This was still a mortifying event.
A fiasco of bad training.

So. It's important for me to be good at this. Scorekeeping tells me, actually, we are not. We are quite below average. And not improving, haven't for quite some time. In fact, scorekeeping says we are getting worse, statistically speaking. So what else is there? Helping orphans? Continuing to do poorly while trying, perhaps, in vain, to improve? This is not Guantanamo Bay. It is a very niche problem to have. A sparkly, designer problem. But what I am thinking about, nonetheless.


Jodi, eh? said...

I do not read slogans, they are unhelpful and assume that we all learn the same and they make people money by making some people feel bad.

I am sorry that you are so sad.

Anonymous said...

I do hear you about hitting plateaus, super frustrating and sometimes you don't know if it's leading to an improvement or a radical drop. Starlet (my beautiful autistic girl) was like that about teeters and weaves. Awesome at home, good at practice and well, so many things bothered her in shows. Some great pictures of her freaking out in the weaves were taken, because the sound of the camera gave her a complex. No, I never bought any of them, probably should have because now they would be funny. And I have to admit, when Vic was up and running, I let her put in for the early retirement plan. That said, the moments when people would ask me, "she has a teeter issue?" after I was wildly happy that she did one, were as satisfying as the best runs I've had with Vic. She taught me more as a teacher and trainer than my easier dogs did. She also helped me appreciate the luxury running Vic is. Really worrying about handling strategy and best lines, so easy! With her it was "what's the best way to keep her from freaking out?", much harder to plan strategy that way. ;-)

As for appearances when Gustavo left the Jumpers ring, anyone who understands his health issues and the temptation of meat are amazed at all you can do with him. Anyone who doesn't understand that doesn't matter. Really, they don't.

I hope you don't stop playing agility.

Morgan said...

I have a crush on your blog. I, too, am struggling with the external feedback scorekeeping provides.

Remember the wood walks.

Elf said...

I am so sad that we both have that kind of weekend with our super dogs whom we really love and who love to run. "At some point, where do you throw in the towel when this keeps happening, over and over again?" I ask myself that at every trial, now. Boost is now old enough really to be moving into performance, but dammit I really want those 2 more Super-Qs, but if they haven't happened by now, why do I keep trying? Of course, YOU practice and work on fixing things, where I just go home and sulk for a while and assume it'll be better next weekend. I dunno, tht strategy often works for my car.