Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trial Tribulations


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.

So, that's where we stand right now.  There are four more weeks until the trial.  The last few things I'd like to get in:
  • 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.

13 comments:

Mango October 4, 2009 at 7:00 PM  

If you are up for it, you should go for sure. What is the worst that can happen? Marge decides it is too scary and you go home without competing? Marge rearranges the course to her own liking? As long as you are there together and having fun it will have been worth it.

Forget about that studying. I could never learn anything new the night before an exam.

Oh yeah, I wish I could get more agilities photos but I hate to impose on the other trainers and my husband has another commitment that he goes to during classes. You should have seen little Dex once he figured out the dog walk. It is his new most favorite thing to do.

Mango Momma

KB October 4, 2009 at 8:09 PM  

It sounds like you've thought this out very carefully, and have Marge's best interests in mind. So, go for it! And, have a blast. I can tell that both of you love agility so it should be a lot of fun!

Go Marge!

I don't compete in agility but, yesterday evening, we had about 25 people at our house. My husband, out of the blue, said that K and I would be doing an agility demo. I thought 'Ruh Roh'. But, K seemed to absolutely love having an audience and zoomed through our homemade course perfectly. It made me wonder about my decision not to compete...

I'm glad that you're going for it!

Deborah October 4, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

WOW, you are planning this through so you should be fine no matter what you and Marge decide to do. Marge will be fine also with practice. My dogs have never competed in anything except the "Lazy Pet Photo Contest" LOL...
It will be interesting. My parents at one time held field trials and my mother ran obedience classes for 30 years, and showed and judged.. We also had a couple of dogs go off with their handlers for show season. So I know it's a lot of preparation! You have to love it!

Kathy October 4, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

Glad you are going to do it, and I find the standard runs for dogs that can get worried are nice because even if she does not have her contacts down 100%, it gives you and her more to think about, you know performing more type of obstacles. NADAC courses are generally pretty spaced out and nice and flowey, you can train in the ring, so if you are not going to Q and you want to fix your contact, you can do it, if worse comes to worse and Marge seems spacey you can go walk in, let the judge know and stand in front of one jump and the tunnel and just do those, so what ever happens you will get a very good experience I am sure, so dont worry, I have even done a few NADAC trials with Lizzie and it was fine, we did not do the whole course but we just did a section and it was great training. I can not wait to hear how it goes, although it sounds like I do have awhile to wait, and you will be more then ready by then. PS, think you are right about the tunnelers, I do not put LIzzie in that class because the dogs are lined up and it goes so fast, it is the end of the day and ours are always starting about the time it is getting dark, so you have the shadows and all the excitement....Liz is not approved for that,....I wish they would do them earlier in the day sometimes.

NCmountainwoman October 4, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

Definitely a good decision. At the very least it will be a good learning experience for Marge. The more exposure the better. Hope you both have fun; that's what it's really all about.

Muttsandaklutz October 4, 2009 at 11:08 PM  

Marge's first trial -- How exciting!!! Love your approach and attitude toward it, you've got your priorities straight for sure. I also like the idea of putting her in just one run rather than oodles of runs. It'll be a nice way to ease into trialing.

Hey interesting thoughts about Standard vs Jumpers. I've been focusing on Jumpers with Lucy, but now you've got me thinking Standard might be the better way to go!

Carolyn October 5, 2009 at 12:37 AM  

I'm so excited for you guys!

I think you'll both do fine. Like everyone else said, don't worry about a clean run, just go out there and have the experience and most importantly, FUN! I have a feeling Marge might end up playing to the crowd!

Studying? What's that? Lol! I've luckily had a bit of time to myself over the past week or so. Tomorrow I start "ramping up" again for two exams at the end of the month. The fun never ends!

Have a good one!

giantspeckledchihuahua October 5, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

Hi! Thanks for stopping by our blog!

Yikes!! You and Marge have some busy days with some hard work ahead of you. reading your blog, I have no doubt that Marge will continue to surpass your expectations. You have already met and exceeded anything or anyone Marge knew was possible.

Congratulations on building such an awesome relationship!

Sue October 5, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

Forget everything else and remember you and your dog are going to have fun together. None of the other stuff matters.

Martha Basset October 5, 2009 at 3:04 PM  

Sue just took the words out of my mouth!
Enjoy and go for it.
xxxx

Brownie October 5, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

wow! looks like you have a plan down pat! I hope that despite all the worrying you and marge have a ton of fun...
and good luck on your exam!

Kari in Redwood City October 6, 2009 at 12:32 PM  

Tunnelers are Baily's favorite. The moment we would get to training and she would see the tunnels she just took off and zoomed through them :) Now if only we could get her to do the jumps!

BRUTUS October 6, 2009 at 8:49 PM  

Good for you guys! What is $14 in the grand scheme of things, anyways? Enter, taker Marge, and if things look too crazy, don't run. We are going to start with some CPE trials soon (common in our area, and a lot more forgiving for Novice dogs/handlers than AKC). Have my CPE registration sitting next to the computer as I type! You gotta start somewhere!

BTW, I bought some Melatonin for Brutus today - think he & Marge might become fellow junkies! I knwo it is only a tool, no the solution. But until we can work through the behavioral parts of our his separation anxiety, we'll give it a try!

Michelle & Brutus

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