Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here We Go Again..

The agility news I spoke about earlier this week is actually the first installation of what may be the journey to our second agility trial.

Long story short, I honestly do not have a whole lot of options for places to trial with Marge. 

Number one, she's not purebred, so that knocks dozens of AKC trials right off of the table.  (Yes, AKC is implementing their mixed-breed program, but AKC trials, in my experience, are usually very busy anyway, and significantly more intense in terms of general atmosphere than other venues.)  

Number two, it is not my goal to travel far with Marge - I do not want to compete heavily with her, I think it'd be unfair to either of us, given all the work that goes in to it on her end and mine.  That takes away a lot of trials, too.  NADAC is not very widespread in my area - maybe 4 trials a year within a one hour radius of me (and most of them are in the sweltering heat of the summer).  There is a little bit of CPE around, but almost all of the trial sites are indoors and from I hear the spaces are TIGHT.  I would be foolish to try to squeeze her into a building packed full of people for a trial that I wasn't confident about.

Number three, because of her fearful nature, I need to make sure trial sites are comfortable for her, but secure in the event of a problem.  Of course, I make every effort to be sure that Marge is comfortable while running, but, strange things can always happen.

Given all these special considerations, I decided to give a February 2010 CPE Trial about 1 1/2 hours away, indoors at a large dog training facility, a second look.  A few months to prepare, ways to get Marge used to the place, larger than some other indoor trial sites from the sounds of it, and, from the looks of it, situated in a pretty quiet area (we will, undoubtedly, hang outside in between runs).  The trial itself is not very large - less than 400 runs per day, and only three or four classes per day.

I originally did not want any part of the indoor trial scene, at least not for this year.  Over all, I still don't want any part of it.  However,  I've made arrangements for tomorrow to take Marge to the training center that's hosting the trial for one hour of private ring time.  Obviously, this pales in comparison to the buzz of an indoor trial, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right?  If this goes well, I may take her back out there for run-throughs or even a match.  They seem to have a lot of agility events and training opportunities.

(Of course, if I plan on entering the February trial, I'm going to have to send the entry in soon, regardless of how sure I am that I'll even be competing.  I think for now we're going to stick to two runs - Regular and Colors. But, before I get ahead of myself, let's see how this goes first.)

There will be no other classes going on at the time of my rental, which is good.  I did have some fear that Marge would be confused by hearing, but not seeing, other people and dogs working in adjacent rooms of the building, but this will hopefully be a non-issue.  It looks like I picked a pretty quiet time to go.

All equipment will be available to me, which is another reason I liked this opportunity.  I don't get to practice on contact equipment often, so even if the February trial doesn't happen for what ever reason, this is still good practice.

I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow.  The presence of agility equipment usually makes everything ten times better for Marge, but, at the same time, this will be pretty different than anything she's done before.  I guess it all remains to be seen.  Just wish us luck, hope that Marge is enamored with the whole thing so that we can both have fun.

And, of course, a huge thanks to my boyfriend for taking me out there.  None of this would be possible without him..


Frankie Furter and Ernie December 3, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

hummmmm I don't recall taking you anywhere. I thought I was your boyfurend. Darn! Guess not.

Jules December 3, 2009 at 10:22 AM  

Indoor trialing can be tough with a sensitive dog. Sounds silly, but there is a cd of indoor agility trial sounds (I used it with Ike). Might be worth purchasing and playing (if she is noise sensitive). If it is just a space issue it probably wouldn't be that helpful.

Kathy Mocharnuk December 3, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

I am going to keep my fingers crossed for you and Marge and I hope the indoor practice goes well and it looks like Marge will be happy even doing part of some runs. If Marge is having space issues at the trial- I think you could be very creative about where you crate Marge and give her LOTS of breaks from the stimulation and action of a trial, which might make the whole thing way easier, the indoor sounds cd sounds like a marvelous idea if the noises will bother her (I want to get that for the pup to listen to), you could try to attend a few indoor classes to sort of ease the transition. At the other end of the spectrum even if you could just go work on entering the ring, getting attention, doing a few jumps or tunnels and leaving and having a party, if Marge is comfy enough to do that that would be a huge thing for her too. ANYWAY those are all things you already know....LOL, and things you already practice...LOL...We have never done any indoor trialing because there are no indoor trials here and I always wonder how it would go. I hope the practice goes well!!!!!!

Sam December 3, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

Thanks, guys. Like I said, I'm still very unsure about the trial itself because it's a big leap for us, one that I don't know that we're ready to take. However, I'm going to train as if we ARE preparing for it, probably send in an entry, and just play it all by ear like I did last time. Either way, going to train tomorrow by myself will be good practice for both of us in simply working somewhere other than our usual spots, even if we never do an actual indoor trial.

There is a match at the place at the end of this month that I may look in to depending on how well she does tomorrow. There are also frequent run-throughs. Definitely lots of options for "building up," so to speak, to a full-fledged trial!

Kathy, I'm actually taking indoor classes at my own club in a couple of weeks. As you've seen in my vids, that room is pretty small for agility. Maybe doing that will help some?

Jules, I will look into the CD. I've heard of it before, and have been thinking about it, actually.

Sara December 3, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

You are putting so much thought, and consideration into your dog's needs, I really commend you!

Going to the building ahead of time should really help. I know with Oreo, he needs time to acclimate himself to new places. Then, once he knows why he's there, his stress level goes down. Also, when there are tight spaces, I leave him in the car until it is almost time for his run. That way, he doesn't have to spend a lot of time dealing with strange dogs/people.

Muttsandaklutz December 3, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

Good luck tomorrow. I'm sure it will be a good experience, whatever you decide about the trial afterwards.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart December 3, 2009 at 8:11 PM  

Is it expensive for you to get this access to the facility? Just wondering.

Sam December 3, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

Thirty bucks for an hour. That's triple the price I pay at my own club. I guess you can say it's a little expensive (certainly not something I could do all the time), but I know better than to bring Marge to a place full of activity and expect to train hard right off the bat. So, that makes it worth it, in my eyes at least.

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! December 3, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

Once again, Mom and I have to khomment how lukhky woo three are to have each other!

We are furry much looking furward to hearing of your adventures!


BRUTUS December 3, 2009 at 11:36 PM  

Good luck, you guys! We'll look forward to the update! Hope the situation suits you well. If so, you might want to add fullhouse to your dance card for the trial. Very easy requirements and you can make up the course as you go along (3 jumps, 2 circles - tunnels/chutes/tires, and one "joker" which is usually a contact obstacle). You gus could probably start at Level 2 easily, but we found the Level 1 courses to be great confidnece-builders (and no teeter or weaves).
Keep us posted!!

Michelle & Brutus

Dexter December 4, 2009 at 6:08 AM  

Good luck. I think that once Marge sees all the fun equipment she will forget everything else.


KB December 4, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

What I love about your approach is how much Marge is your first priority. You're not obsessed over medals or championships. You seem like you just want to find something fun and challenging for you and Marge to do as a team. What a lucky dog Marge is!

My deceased lab, Acadia, and I were a search and rescue team. Nothing, and I mean nothing, builds a bond like being a team who relies on each other totally. I think that agility is similar in that way.

I hope that you and Marge (and your boyfriend) have a fun time during your practice at the trial facility!

Golden Woofs! SUGAR December 4, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

Woof! Well, just remember just have FUN there. I do understand the AKC ... I've been there n it was VERY intense that's the reason why I stop. It turn into such a competitive event and the FUN of it was vanished. Wish you all the LUCK. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Gus, Louie and Callie December 4, 2009 at 4:53 PM  

Everything will be just fine.. As long as Marge is having fun...
Mix breeds rock..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Life With Dogs December 5, 2009 at 12:13 AM  

I do wish you luck, much of it. I had no idea that trials were breed limited. I learn more about training and agility every time I arrive here...

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