First and most importantly, Layla is definitely doing better than she was a couple of days ago. Sunday was probably her best day, except for the pile of hurled-up food that I found on the floor a few hours ago. She is walking better, more active, and I haven't seen her stumble nearly as much.
Of course, an ear infection is the best scenario, but it would present problems, too - it would mean that we're back to square one on the issue of finding Layla a new food to eat. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Thanks again for your continued good thoughts - it's already 2 AM now, so I'll be visiting your blogs in the morning.
It's strange, but I'm actually really happy to be done with trialing for a while. I found this Fall season to be pretty tough, especially looking back at our exceptionally sunny Spring trials, in which we Q'd 8 out of 12 tries. And, even the runs that were NQs, all except for one, were extremely fluid and connected. The same, unfortunately, can't be said for the Fall trials, but I think we ended with more pros than cons.
Our first run on Saturday was Standard. I really liked the course - I didn't have to lead out at all and the whole thing was really flowy.
We were on the start line again for a ridiculous amount of time - they had obstacles to fix and the EZ-Up tent near the stewards' table was blowing around a bit. I decided after this run that I was no longer rushing in to the ring, even if the stewards told me to, and was not shy about bringing treats in to the little gated passageway in to the ring. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Given the rocky start, the run was really, really nice. Marge went around one jump because she heard the hockey puck slamming against the side of the rink just beyond the trees, a few hundred feet away from us (perhaps some of you recall this post about that topic and how it's our nemesis at this park). You can hear the same thud right after she finishes the Dog Walk. But, I didn't go back to fix the jump - it would have broken her momentum. She snapped back in to the agility game VERY quickly given that scary sound, and went on to do the teeter and the table perfectly - the two big things that we really needed to fix.
Our only other fault was Marge putting two paws on the teeter on the way to the blue tunnel after the A-Frame - it wouldn't have been a disqualifying fault, if not for the missed jump. She did jump out of the ring after completing the course, but she came back in when I called her and thankfully didn't do it again for the rest of the weekend.
Nothing to really be unhappy about with this run. It stinks, because a Q would have meant our OA title, but hey, I'll definitely take this.
Not too long after was our Jumpers run. This was a pretty tricky course, with the tunnel entrances definitely being the hardest part.
She ran quite well again. We had trouble at the first tunnel and got called for a refusal. Then, I pulled her off the yellow single jump, so we had a runout and a backjump (wrong course - none are allowed in Jumpers). But, we regained momentum quickly, her weave entrance was super, and the rest of the course was fine. Definitely a course I wish I could "do over," because we would have Q'd if I didn't pull her off that darn jump.
Do you hear the sound of the swings in the background? Somehow, it didn't bother her - thank goodness. I guess she prefers the sound of swings of the sound of hockey!
So, the day was not a failure at all. Given our last trial, with problems galore in both runs, this was definitely a huge step in the right direction. I wanted her to be connected and engaged with me - and she was.
Sunday, our first run was Jumpers. A really fun, flowy course, that lent itself nicely to rear crosses, our strength.
We qualified! It was definitely exhilarating to run this course. She was totally on the ball. We had a bobble at the blue tunnel (the entrance was right up against the face, an absolutely wicked angle), but didn't get called for a refusal. It was nice to have a win attached to such a nice run, after the two "so close, yet so far" runs we had the day before. A first place!
We went back to the practice jump after each of our runs - an activity recommended to us by our friend, fearful dog-savvy trainer, Stephen. I really like this idea, as it really makes the whole agility thing a game, and kind of decreases the novelty of the ring, I think.
After a long wait, it was time for Open Standard - our last trial run of the year. I didn't like the course at all - it was very, very tight, and I had watched the Excellent Standard dogs on a similar course run it, too.
It was not to be. I thought that maybe we could squeeze out a nice run, but, I guess after a long weekend, Marge's brain was fried. I think this is both good stress and bad - she held both of her contacts, did the teeter, and weaved like a superstar (all hard, mentally taxing obstacles), but had lots of control issues and some aimless running.
The table was erroneously left at 24", which was a big jump for my little girl, and definitely contributed to her table refusal. She also didn't like the judge (he was one of those guys who gets up pretty close to you on the contact obstacles). A lot of dogs gave him funny looks, to be honest.
The spectators also played a role. After the table, she went to go visit some kids who were practically hanging over the ring gates, possibly with food in hand.
My friend Gloria went to go "yell" at them during the run, telling them how much time and money we spend to get our dogs to do well and have fun out here at shows. Unfortunately, her efforts didn't seem to help much, as they and several other kids were absolutely causing havoc at the trial site, especially during the Novice Standard class (which I worked ring crew in - and yelled at the kids several times to get them to move off of the fence). They were making noise, eating food very close to the rings, bouncing balls, running around, oh, you name it. Then, there were the people with their untrained, unentered dogs walking around, who let their dogs approach and bark at the show dogs. I will be bringing this up at our club's meeting, because it really adds unnecessary stressors on the exhibitors and their dogs and perhaps we need more intervention. It's nice to attract new people, but they need to know their limitations. The spectators have NEVER been this bad.
I kind of snapped at one well-meaning guy, who admired my dog and didn't take my "She's shy" to mean that he should NOT put his grubby hands on her. I moved in the way of his hand and told him, "No thank you!!!!" - he was taken aback, but after two days of trialing, neither Marge nor I really wanted to be bothered and I was afraid that she might tell him off in her own little MargeDog way when he reached for her. I tried to further explain that I needed to be her little bodyguard in this big, scary world, but bobbled over my words and he left. Whatever. People need to get some dog sense and ASK before they approach a dog.
So, the weekend didn't end spectacularly, with a pretty crappy run coupled with the spectator stress. But, the weekend was a decent success, I'd say - Marge was comfortable at the trial site and comfortable in the ring, for the most part, did well at a busy trial, and picked up her second OAJ leg. She now needs one more in each class to finally say goodbye to Open and head for Excellent. I'm unsure when our next trial will be (not 'til 2011, for sure), but more on that another time. For now, we need a well-deserved break from even thinking about it.