I should be studying for what promises to be a brutal Psychopathology midterm tomorrow, but, no. All I have on my mind are the two envelopes sitting in front of me - one with Marge's NADAC registration fee (she has been registered as Northbound Fly By Night, my original name choice), and the other with a $14 check inside for an agility run that may or may not happen next month.
I have given a lot of thought to this November 1st trial. Probably too much thought.
Everyone I've spoken to has told me to take this opportunity. My friends, my dog-savvy friends, my agility friends, my trainer, my vet, and most importantly, even some fellow fearful dog owners. The response from those who have said anything about it has been completely unanimous - go for it!
I've mulled over which day to go (settled on the fact that Halloween was probably a terrible idea), mulled over which classes to enter, mulled over how many classes to enter.
So, my final decision: one NADAC Novice Regular run on November first.
I had it narrowed down between Regular (or Standard, as the AKC folks call it) and Jumpers.
Tunnelers was my first choice in August, but I was informed that it would likely be the last class of the day at this trial, so I do NOT want to keep Marge waiting around for hours the first time she ever competes. Additionally, watching dogs barrel through tunnel after tunnel is a great recipe for overexcitedness and reactivity. And, what's more, I can definitely see my girl getting bored with it after taking the second or third tunnel. I know dogs generally love the Tunnelers class, but Marge has never seen so many Tunnels in a row and I'm afraid she might wonder what the heck was going on with it.
Jumpers was another option, because, simply put, Marge seldom knocks a bar and is generally fine with crossing. But, since Jumpers is so fast paced, I (and especially my boyfriend) thought that that might leave her wanting to run zoomies instead of perform obstacles.
So, Regular it is. Does she have her contacts down 100-percent? No. Might she fly off the A-Frame? Yes. Might she totally ignore the hoops that could possibly be on the field? Yes. Might she screw up her weave entry? Yes. But Regular offers the greatest amount of control, the greatest amount of easy crosses (at tunnels and contact obstacles), and the most naturally paced agility for us. There are no teeters, tires (at this trial, though they are legal in NADAC) or tables for us to worry about - our three weakest obstacles, so that is nice.
As of now, I've pretty much made the decision to just go with it. Since this will be Marge's first run ever, I do not want to go back and repeat faulty weaves or missed contacts. I want her to think what she is doing is absolutely wonderful and completely right. I don't want to confuse her by breaking her stride, saying "uh-oh!" and having her possibly wonder about what she did or didn't do. We might finish with fifteen faults, but if she is attentive, unafraid, and enjoying herself, than it's a Q in my mind.
(Of course, I'm not totally planning on an NQ, and do think it is entirely possible that we could run the course clean. I'm just saying that her level of comfort is the absolute number-one priority in my mind right now.)
I am also perfectly prepared to take her to the trial, see that for whatever reason, she is not ready to do it, and stick around a while feeding her massive amounts of hamburgers and cheese. I do not anticipate this, as she has gone to two trials and was very relaxed at them, but things like this have to always be in the back of my mind with a dog such as Marge.
- Take Marge to the trial site - I went there last week to watch a trial, but the County Parks Department informed me that I can take her there and walk her around as long as there are no events going on.
- Have a private lesson, hopefully at my trainer's house in NJ. If I'm lucky enough to squeeze this in, I think it will help me accurately gage how comfortable Marge will be about going to a brand new place and doing agility almost immediately.
- Rent the (new) training hall for some private practice time. Though this would be more beneficial if I was running Jumpers, since I won't have access to the contact obstacles, it will still serve to work on changes of directions, send outs, weave pole entries, and, again, getting to work in a brand new place.
- Take her to the trial site the day of set up for a run-through. Louie is nice enough to drive us out there (yeah, this nineteen year old still hasn't driven on the highway...) so I'll bring Marge in her crate, help out with the set up, and then I'll get to run her. I'm still not exactly sure how I'm going to work this, because I don't want Marge to freak out having to stay in her crate without me right there or while listening/watching the set up going on. For now, we'll play this by ear, get as much of the other stuff in as possible and then see where we're at.
I'll update more about this in the coming month. It will sure be interesting to see how everything plays out.