(Please go over to visit Beagle Diary, as dear Cookie has gone on ahead of us as of today. Our thoughts are with his human and canine family. He was a beautiful and strong little dog, well loved by his people.)
Practice today was, by no means, bad or not worth it. In fact, considering the massive distractions that I didn't forsee being present, I think Marge did very, very well.
That said, I've decided to pass on the February CPE trial. Though I absolutely adore the security of competing indoors, it is obvious that Marge does not yet share those same feelings. While I have hope that, eventually and with more practice, Marge will be able to attend indoor trials, it would be absolutely foolish to do it now, when we've still got a whole lot of training and learning ahead of us.
She rode very well in the car. It was probably the longest continuous car ride that's she's been on. Long Island is notorious for traffic, and we hit a little bit in both directions. She slept most of the time. She wears a harness with a special seat belt connector in the car for safety, since a crate doesn't fit nor would it be well-received by Marge. This picture was taken during Marge's first moments over the Verrazano Bridge and into Brooklyn.
It turns out there was another class or lesson going on in the other section of the building. It sounded like a puppy or beginner obedience class based on the squeaky voices and lavish praise. If that wasn't enough, the entrance to this agility ring was right near the main entrance, so dogs and people were going by. Oh, and the really loud LIRR train that roared by and blared its horn wasn't helpful, either.
Despite the noise, Marge really had no problem running. We didn't really do any courses. Although they told me I could move equipment around, I elected not to. I felt that short sequences would be more than enough for a first time at a new place - oh, and contact training, too.
We did have one shut down-ish moment, where I tried to play the treat game with Marge to get her confidence back up, and she decided that she didn't want to eat the treats I was throwing for her to chase. I'd say the beginning of the session and the end of the session were best.
A fair amount of peanut butter was doled out when the going got particularly tough.
Here's our video. You can hear some of the many sounds in the background:
Just some quick notes:
- Marge's (green) dog walk was pitifully slow, but seemed to be old and rickety, and made a lot of noise. I included it in the video because I liked her contact performance. She was lightning fast over the smaller, blue dog walk.
- Marge's weaves were perfect tonight. Slower than I'm used to, but totally accurate. I think the speed issue was probably a combination of stress and being on mats instead of grass. I wonder if the spacing was different compared to the set we use at our club, because I really found it strange that she nailed them every time after an admittedly not-so-hot performance the last time.
- She was fine through the chute, actually pretty excited for it because the cloth was light (easy to push through) and she hasn't seen it in a while.
- I avoided the teeter like the plague - it was the LOUDEST teeter I've ever heard. I put her on it once and let it drop and it banged so loud that I'm really surprised she didn't run off it (she maintained her position perfectly).
Now, please, let's talk about the dang A-Frame. I am at a loss on what I want my contact criteria to be. First, I wanted running contacts. Then, it was changed to 2o2o. Now, in this video, I'm thinking running again.. specifically, modified running, with a stop at the bottom (most likely a stand, though I know a down is traditional).
I don't know if it's coincidence, if it was a bad A-Frame, or what, but she soooo didn't look comfortable getting in to contact position. I feel bad, now, watching the runs where I put my hands on my waist and playfully asked her, "where's your contact?," because, after studying them, she really looks like she was trying to do it, but couldn't for what ever reason. Then, she compensated by sliding down the obstacle into position.
Her stride seems to naturally hit the contact zone, so I'm wondering if a modified running contact might be the way to go. The way she's performing her 2o2o now doesn't look like it could be good for the joints.
I'm going to talk to my instructor about this and the weave issue. (Class is starting back up next week, and there are only three other dogs!) It's so hard to gauge exactly how well she's performing right now because we're indoors and working with limited equipment, limited space, and different footing. But, there is always the chance something else is going on that could be affecting her A-Frame or weave performance, and I am toying with the idea of finally getting her hips X-rayed and/or looking into something like massage or chiropractic adjustment for her. I know she'd hate undergoing any of the above, though.
All in all, it was a good experience. I do think that Marge would feel better about training there if we were to do it multiple times. Despite the fact that competing here is off the table for this season, I don't think it would be a bad idea to go back sometime now that we both know what to expect.