Thursday, September 24, 2009

In The Fast Lane

Since all I'm going to be thinking about later is my vet visit tomorrow morning (I tend to dwell on things to a ridiculous degree) I figured I'd make my agility update now.

Here we are on Tuesday night.  This run was a particularly good one.. many of the others had a lot of mistakes.  

- She was pretty much fine with the first six obstacles every time.  She REALLY barrels over that dog walk, thanks to all the running I've had her do over the similarly-shaped baseball player benches in the field.  Of course, they don't have ascent and descent ramps, but it has definitely helped her balance.

- 2o2o is getting a lot better!  She hit it real nicely on this one.  It was a little bit crooked, BUT she hit it on the first shot.  I think it was the only time tonight that she got it without having to try again, but it's still a massive improvement in the relatively short amount of time we've been working contacts (1 month-ish?).

- I had A LOT of trouble on some of my other runs sending her into that tunnel under the dog walk.  You can hear Marisa yelling out to me that I'm using the wrong arm.. well, at least I got her in there.  I don't mind that she's hard on me (and all the handlers), though.. I can take(and appreciate) the criticism, Marge can't!

- She is supposed to go to the teeter after those next two jumps.  We stopped her at this point though.  We ran the teeter a few times (with peanut butter) at half-height after class.  She really had no problem with it.  Maybe I'll try it in sequence next week.

- That 180 is tougher than it looks.  It was a TIGHT front cross to get to the triple, and we screwed this up MANY times.  Between my novice handling and Marge not knowing everything fully yet, she, many times, winds up on the wrong side of me when I try to front cross.

After the triple we're supposed to back cross to the weaves, which I couldn't do at all.  I THINK I understand it a little better now, but I'm going to need to practice it.  The rest is relatively straight away, with the exception of one go out-take far side of jump-come-front cross that sometimes we got, sometimes we didn't.  By the night's end I decided to skip the front cross and run on the other (harder) side of the last few obstacles without too much of a problem.

Her behavior was very good at class.  She was uncharacteristically happy all day Tuesday (and last night, for that matter.. she tried to initiate play with my father, even) and that definitely carried over into class.  She kept trying to exit the field to go scavenge for goodies in the crowd, which is why you might hear a slight tinge of frustration in my voice and a "leave it" at the beginning of this run.  She settled down as the night went on, though.  And, as Marisa pointed out, it's not the worst thing in the world that she was going off to mingle with other people.  

She snarked once.. and it wasn't her fault.  Louie held her for me while I walked the course.  He was feeding her peanut butter, and another dog in class came up to say hello.. she told her off with one bark, and then Louie moved her away.  I don't think she reacted to anything else.  She has no problem watching the other dogs run anymore, but I still play Look at That to make sure it stays that way.

All in all, I think we had a great class.  This advanced class is turning out to be a lot of fun.  It's very challenging for both me and Marge, so I'm going to try to rent the training hall soon so we can do some easier stuff.  She is VERY confident right now, and I don't want out constant doing things over or stopping at contacts to discourage her.  I always end the night with a small, easy jump sequence.

I'm so nervous about the vet this week.  Her behavior has been on an upswing, so this, of course, is making me second guess the possibility of medication, and instead give it one more shot and be more diligent with the melatonin.  My rationale is that she'll have the entire winter to recover from this summer (her stress hormones can return to a normal level), and then next year I can catch her before she gets to the point she was at this year.  The logic may be flawed, though.. I always told myself that if I didn't deal with it now, I'd be lulled into a false sense of security this winter and then everything would come crashing down again.  I'm going to just go in with an open mind, though, and see what comes of it.


Dexter September 24, 2009 at 12:09 PM  

It is so hard to know what is going on in a dog's brain. How wonderful that Marge delights in agility. It looks like she forgets all her troubles when she is running a course.

Mango Momma

Sue September 24, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

Glad she had a good day. It's been a rough summer for both of you.

Kathy Mocharnuk September 24, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

I am going to be thinking of you and your vet visit, hope it goes really well, but she seems to be doing good now....

WOW, that was a gorgeous dog walk and she hit that contact REALLY WELL, that was awesome!!!!!

The 180 was absolutely wonderful, she read it and collected her stride because she knew that was coming up before she took off for the first jump-excellent handling on your part.

Looks like you guys are really doing awesome!!!

The Army of Four September 24, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

Looked like she did GREAT!
Good luck at the vet's - please let us know what he/she has to say!
Tail wags,

KB September 24, 2009 at 5:59 PM  

It sounds like class was great! You are learning so fast, and so is Marge. What fun!

In case you want an opinion, be sure to go to the vet and be open to trying medication. I think it's made a big difference for some dogs. Wouldn't it be great if life were less scary for Marge? She really shows her potential on the agility course - and maybe that same confidence could shine through all the time!

Muttsandaklutz September 28, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

Great creativity using benches to replicate balancing on the dogwalk!

Hooray for Marge's happy day! Trying to initiate play with your father sounds like a fantastic step in the right direction.

That peanut butter snark sounds like something normal that a lot of dogs would do, definitely my Lucy would.

Loved that agility video. Marge looks like she's really having fun. Only problem with the video is that it was too short! ;-)

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