Friday, October 30, 2009

A Pleasant Day

I should really be getting to bed, because I'm waking up super early tomorrow to take Marge on a long walk before the droves of children make their way out to (in Marge's eyes) terrorize the neighborhood, but I couldn't help but post.

Today, Louie and I took Marge to run-throughs at the site of Sunday's trial.  Though I was fully prepared to get there, feed Marge cookies, walk her around, and leave, she was very relaxed (50mg of L-Theanine in her system, note to self).

She was excited getting out of the car when we first got there and showed no hesitance to go over to the set up area.  A little grey-faced, black Whippet was standing there with his handler, and Marge was originally very leery of him, but he was actually her only real dog-dog interaction of the day.  His owner informed me that he is very polite when it comes to other dogs, so I didn't think it would be a bad thing to let them say hello to each other. He, too, was a very shy dog (his owner called him "neurotic"), but his owner said that he lights up on the agility field.  It was good encouragement for me, and Marge seemed to enjoy his company very much.  He offered his back for her to sniff almost immediately, putting her at ease.

I walked the course almost immediately after I got there, which was nice since I didn't have to have Marge wait around.  I admit, because Marge was out there with me while I was walking (I figured it'd be a very good time for her to get out there to sniff and see the equipment) I did a terrible job of strategizing.

She was great watching people go by and other dogs run, getting a tiny bit too interested when she saw a Boston running zoomies, but the clicker came out, Look-At-That commenced, and all was well.  Seeing some dogs offleash as we walked around the park did make her lick her lips and change her body language, but I knew they were well-trained and would not approach us and she soon realized the same.

Most importantly, the fact that there was noise - and a good deal of it - did not bother her.  There were park vehicles moving about in the background, the lawn was being mowed on the other side of the park, people were setting up tents, and a dog was letting out a highly irritating, high-pitched whine.  I expect there to be less noise the day of the trial, except maybe for more dogs barking.  But, I don't think there will be much big activity going on as there was today during the last bit of setup.

Here is the video of our second run (there were two):

I think she looks great.  There was a little lip-licking going on at the beginning, but she had also just eaten bits of wet dog food (yep, I stood there for 10 minutes this morning taking chunks out of a can of Merrick to use as treats - worked like a charm), so it could be from that.  They must have gotten caught in her throat or something, so she coughed a couple times on course as well.  

Nevermind the actual agility.  My handling was poor - in my head, I could practically hear Marisa screaming "RUN TO THE FENCE" as Marge and I continually blew that stupid tunnel under the A-Frame - and my hands were flailing all over the place.  Though, I must admit, for a NADAC Elite course, I think Marge did a mighty good job of navigating it.

I think she looks LOADS better from a behavioral/emotional standpoint than she did at class two weeks ago, further enhancing my belief that there was either something out of the ordinary at the field or the grass was wet and bothering her.  It's very encouraging that she has been to this place only one time before, and was able to run with the great fervor and enthusiasm that she usually gives at class.  She looks like she is having fun.

 It's also encouraging that she ran 23 straight obstacles without a single treat (while she likes toys, she is not hugely toy motivated). Of course, with speed comes no 2o2o contacts, but she hit the yellow, even if she didn't stop at the bottom.

Of course, Sunday is going to be a whole different ball game.  There will be lots more waiting, lots more dogs, and no squeaky toy to bring out with me on to the course.  If it is too much for her, we will leave and not set foot in the ring.  It's as simple as that.  After today, I am optimistic that this will not be the case, but it is certainly a possibility.

After Sunday, no matter what the outcome is, we will not be doing anything quite like this for a while.  Though Marge has progressed considerably in all areas of her training, I know it is in her best interest to fight the "trial bug" and take things very slowly.  The next trial I am even considering will not come until the spring - there are a couple of "sets" of trials at two other locations in New Jersey, and I think the fact that more than one weekend of trialing will happen at these places will work in Marge's favor for her to get used to the sites.  I would like to do more run-throughs and find opportunities to train at various new locations, but that's for discussing another time.

Marge, as I write this, is on the couch in the next room fast asleep ,in the midst of what seems to be a very vivid dream.  I hope that her sleepy woofs and squeaks are from dreaming about having fun on the agility course.


Martha October 31, 2009 at 6:08 AM  

We just loved the video - the energy from both of you is amazing!
Looked like Marge had loads of fun and you were very good at directing her back to bits she may have zoomed past!!
The best bit was the end where both of you were leaping for joy!!!
You are both stars.
love and kisses
Martha, Bailey & Mum xxxx

Dexter October 31, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

That was a hard course for your human. But you are doing so well. I can see you going out over things which is not easy all the time but it keeps your human from having to run as fast as you.

I am always impressed by your weaving. I just really don't get that yet.


NCmountainwoman October 31, 2009 at 8:41 AM  

Wow! Both of you are showing so much improvement. I have such admiration for owners and dogs who run agility. Hooray!

Dog_geek October 31, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

I thought Marge looked great!

RE: the lip licking on the start line - L is not a fearful dog at all, but almost every run he has to scratch his neck on the start line. Seeing a little bit a stress behavior in that context might not necessarily be a sign of fear, but more anticipatory - getting ready for the physical exertion of running the course. Watch at the gym sometime at how many people yawn right before doing the bench press, or how many people yawn as they are getting on the line at a road race - we all do it!

And I watched your previous video with the wet grass - L *hates* when it is warm out and the grass is wet and everything smells, and he will run like he doesn't want any of his feet to touch the ground. I just don't practice with him when he's like that. Probably not a luxury you have if you are going to a class once a week, but I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Cyndi and Stumpy October 31, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

Marge looked like she was having a great time! Her tail was up and she was grinning and focusted on you! I think that is the most important thing! Go Marge!

Deborah October 31, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

Marge and you are both look awesome! It looks like fun but a lot of work! It must be real hard to teach Marge all of that!
Have a great day!

KB October 31, 2009 at 9:51 AM  

I agree that Marge looked like a different dog from her slow run the other day. That was a tough course, and you two went through it really well! Way to go!

Also, it sounds like the whippet was a really good dog interaction!

Sue October 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM  

You guys looked good.Try to stay relaxed. Keep telling yourself that you're just there to have fun with your dog. If I keep that in my mind, Fudge does much better. When I get nervous, he feels it. Good luck.

Frankie Furter and Ernie October 31, 2009 at 12:33 PM  

How fun for you. You took your two legger out for some fun. Good girrrl. Some rules are MEANT to be broken. If you have fun what does it matter that you don't do things "their" way.
About those potatoes... Sweet potatoes are grrreat for us. My mom makes dehydrated chips for me. Butt watch the Irish Potatoes. If they are in chunks... we don't chew them and they lay in our stomachs and eventually we have to Pookie them out. Mashed/whipped potatoes are gummy and they don't digest well either. Fork smooshed ones are not too bad butt my mom really doesn't like for me to have WHITE potatoes at all.

The Army of Four October 31, 2009 at 3:58 PM  

Great post! Go Marge! Go Sam!!! What a great team!!!
Play bows,

Gus, Louie and Callie October 31, 2009 at 6:01 PM  

We think you did awesome.. Keep up the good work..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Muttsandaklutz October 31, 2009 at 6:31 PM  

Hey fantastic! What a great opportunity to be able to do run-throughs at the trial site. Marge looked pretty darn good too. Right on :)

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog October 31, 2009 at 6:56 PM  

Furry good work and post!

Happy HOWLoween!

I hope woo get lots of treats without any trikhks!


Bijou October 31, 2009 at 9:56 PM  

Hi Marge,

I can see you have been practicing that agility stuff. You are doing a real good job!

I hope you have a Happy Howloween and the little hoomans don't scare you.


Kathy Mocharnuk October 31, 2009 at 11:27 PM  

WOW!!!! The longer you guys ran the more comfortable and together both of you kept getting. I can not wait to hear how Sunday goes and it sounds like Marge did terrific!!!! CONGRATS! With how hard you have worked-both of you for her to do that good in that new place-you must be so proud!!!!

Lorenza November 1, 2009 at 1:23 AM  

Hi, Marge!
I loved your video!
I am sure your are going to have a great time at your Sundays trial!
Good luck and most important... have fun!
Kisses and hugs

Astrid Keel November 1, 2009 at 6:26 PM  

Marge, you did fab! I love watching you jump... you're flying! Your mommy will perfect her directing and soon, you'll be doing the course like a PRO!


BRUTUS November 1, 2009 at 9:23 PM  

You are lookin' good Marge! Please tell your mom that my mom sent her an email & hopes she got it. My mom has been a little scatterbrained lately, but promises to get with it soon!

Brutus the Frenchie

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