Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mixed Feelings

I really didn't have fun at the trial today.  My emotions are pulling at me in so many different directions. Part of me doesn't even want to go back tomorrow because some of it's out of my control, the other part sees the mistakes I made today that contributed to our admittedly crappy day.

First of all, everyone is raving about this trial site.  It's close to the highway, so it's easy to get to (I even drove over the bridge today for the first time to get there).  It's near the water, so there's a lovely breeze.  The grounds are well kept and flat for good running surface.  There's nearby bathrooms.  You can park ringside.  The food vendor was good, so I'm told.

BUT, there were some things that my sensitive doggy didn't like.  For one, the park is right in the path of Newark Airport, so when they're using a certain runway for arrivals, the planes are LOW and fly right over the rings.  Next, there was a fair amount of people walking around the park who weren't there for the trial, some of them getting a little too close to my tent for comfort.  There's also booms and bangs coming from the industrial plants surrounding the park that you'll hear if you leave the hustle-bustle of the trial.

Marge warmed up to the trial site more quickly than she ever has in the past.  Seriously.  There was NO adjustment period for her.  She knew exactly where she was and what she was there for.  I thought the day would go well.

...But it didn't.  Open Standard was first, and I was really confident about it.  I had a plan set and thought we would do well.

It was an ugly, ugly run.  For one, Marge stopped on top of the A-Frame and surveyed the park.  Then, she would not down on the table and definitely was stressed out - it's a new, automated table and it felt different and I can't imagine the loud count was much help, either.  Then, a #$#%#$ plane flew over the ring and though I didn't hear it while I was running, I definitely hear it in the video.  After that, she was just totally not following any directions.  I really don't think my handling was particularly bad or anything.

On the bright side, she did hold both of her contacts.

Everyone gave me the whole spiel of oh, she's young, she's having an off day, etc.  But she NEVER pulls this kind of stuff.  Three refusals and a table fault?  Oh, we were totally making the judge do the YMCA dance today.

The day moved by really quickly - Marge was completely social, met new people and dogs, relaxed in her crate, she clearly wasn't upset about being there and at the end of the day, it wasn't as though she was really looking to go home or anything, either.  So it's not like she was terribly scared.

I walked the Open Jumpers course and I wasn't confident.  I probably should have just pulled, because it was really, really ugly.  Tough weave entrance and a REALLY tough closing.

I decided I was going to be more motivating, run slower, and see how it went.  It definitely started better - until we hit the jump before the weaves and she didn't read my back cross at all.. and went to visit the ring steward.  Who would have EVER thought that that'd be a problem for my dog?

Then, we bumped in to each other after the weaves (at least partially because Marge preferred to run in straight lines rather than change direction at all).  Then came the ugly would-be back cross in the corner.  Looking at it on video, it was a MUCH harder turn for the dog than I thought... but really, a front was not an option at all.

Then she went and visited AGAIN, giving us another runout.  And we managed to finish the rest of the course somewhat cleanly.

I was, and still am, feeling really bummed about the whole day, but after watching the videos closely, I think that a) the environment definitely played a role and b) the Open Jumpers course just didn't make sense to neither her nor I.  I still think it's really weird that Marge really didn't read my crosses at all, though.  We have been so in-tune lately in class and I'm worried that today didn't reflect that at all.

I'm worried about going back tomorrow, but hopefully today was just an adjustment to a slightly more difficult trial environment and we'll get on the same page tomorrow.  I'm going to spend more time warming her up, practicing recalls and back crosses on the flat, etc before our runs (I do think I skimped on the warm-up stuff today). If our first run stinks, I'm going to just pull her from Jumpers, go home, and pray that things will be better at our next trial in 2 weeks.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog September 19, 2010 at 12:16 AM  

Sorry to see you are so bummed -

I can imagine the planes do cause some distraction -

I know the night I went to help look for Rocky I was amazed by the constant flight paths above -

I hope today will go better for all -

Kim September 19, 2010 at 12:37 AM  

It sounds (and looks) like she had a fun day, but you didn't. Yes, she was distracted but from what you describe, not stressed. You were the one who got stressed (and I heard frustration in your voice) and you lost touch with her. Don't pull your runs tomorrow. Go and use them as a training experience for yourself and for Marge. Plan youself a short run instead (a few obstacles and then get out) instead of trying to finish the whole course and possibly disconnecting with her out there. That way she starts and ends focused and you don't get frustrated with her inattention from all the distractions. Just my 2 cents :) You 2 appear to be a great team...don't over think it and have fun with her :)

Amy / Layla the Malamute September 19, 2010 at 3:08 AM  

So sorry today's trial didn't go as well as you planned. I can't watch the videos on my phone (when they're embedded in html, the link isn't clickable) but the courses sound difficult from what you've described. I wouldn't pull the runs tomorrow. But then again, it's easy to say that when I didn't show in it. I'd be feeling the same way. But Marge seemed to enjoy herself. She met a lot of people and dogs and probably had a great day outside with you. If nothing else, this weekend was a great socialization time - not that she isn't well socialized, but you know what I mean. I don't think anything could happen in the trial tomorrow that would be so devastating it could put you back months of training. If she held her contacts, that's great news.
I can't believe she visited the steward. That's amazing. This woman in class has a dog who had a severe phobia of tunnels. At a trial last weekend, the dog kept circling through the tunnel, like 4 times in a row. It's hard to get mad at that when its such a huge personal accomplishment.

But anyway...whatever you decide tomorrow will be the right decision. You always put Marge first, so I'm sure that it won't be harmful to training or your relationship.

Even if it was the worst run in history (which it won't be), 1) she'll get exposure to a trial situation and more strange people/dogs/airplanes, and 2) at least you'll have the Worst Day Ever out of the way. You guys'll be doing agility for awhile, so this one day/trial won't be significant at all, other than more steps toward her being more comfortable.

Good luck with it, I know it'll be a success one way or another.

George The Lad September 19, 2010 at 3:31 AM  

Don't be so hard on yourself, I think we all under underestimate how much dogs can hear and pick up our feelings, you both looked to be doing well in the videos, but you know the places that are not quite right, and I can see your point. But we all have off days.
Start a fresh, and put it behind you.
Jan x

Dexter September 19, 2010 at 6:18 AM  

What the heck is an automated pause table? I know that PeeWee (who is a-frame obsessed) FREAKED when he went to run up an a-frame and it turned out to be metal and not the nice wood he was used to.

I wouldn't worry. Marge certainly did NOT go cracker, just a little distracted. Good luck today.


Jules September 19, 2010 at 7:14 AM  

I am sorry today didn't go well - at least during the runs. From what you have written it sounds like it actually went really well in terms of Marge's sensitivity to new locations, people, and noises.

I hope you went back today because I think it sounds like a lot of good stuff happened yesterday - even if it didn't happen in the ring.

Diana September 19, 2010 at 8:01 AM  

I think your reading way more into this than is needed. Your runs were lovely. Before watching the video and reading what you wrote, I expected a disaster. There were just a few bobbles. You have to let some of this go. The runs are going to get so much harder as you advance to excellent. You will have lots of runs that really are a distaster. You need to train yourself to find the good in your runs. When you leave the ring, tell yourself at least one good thing that happened. I think we all get thru novice so easliy and then hit open, and its now hard. GIve yourself and your dog a break. Its a learning experence and learning to run as a team is part of the process. Your dog is great and ran really well. She came back and hit that weave pole entrance, it was awesome. See what you need to work on from you runs but dont get down. It takes years to become a team at a trial. I hope you went back today and see the positive. Diana

Sam September 19, 2010 at 8:08 AM  

Thank you, guys - I know I am a MAJOR drama queen who ALWAYS jumps to the worst possible conclusion. I am going back today, at least for the first run, to see how it goes. I think I was spoiled with the fact that I got my first two OA legs extremely easily. That's what every one keeps telling me, and I know it's true, but I am just such a worry wart..

andrea September 19, 2010 at 9:01 AM  

it's hard when you have a dog who does well not to stress about the bobbles.. I'll watch the vids tomorrow (@ work - shhhh) but I suspect you are beating yourself up needlessly
yup there were some new things but Marge visiting is actually someething you'd celebrate before!! and being chilled in between classes? HUGE

a new table is a good reason (not EXCUSE) for a bobble and the site sounds busy enough that a little star gazing from the aframe is understandable too

run today - if you aren't happy with the first run plan yourself something fun and successful and do it in the next - the Q does not have the power - you do.

hang in there - and take deep breaths too

Frankie Furter and Ernie September 19, 2010 at 9:09 AM  

Hi Marge, sorry you had a bad day. There is always... tomorrow though.

KB September 19, 2010 at 9:37 AM  

Watching those videos makes me totally agree that the environment was really affecting Marge. It was so noisy and there was so much hub bub. Although you were disappointed, it probably was an important experience for both of you.

I hope that today goes better and that both of you have fun. It did sound like yesterday was a success for Marge outside the ring which is huge given the pandemonium.

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ September 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

Sorry you didn't enjoy your day. We don't know a lot about those things, but we can see where the environment may have been a bit of a test for Marge. You need to do what works best for you, but we vote you give it a try again today, you just might be surprised.

Good luck.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

houndstooth September 19, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

I look at it this way. Everyone has these experiences if they show long enough. Some days, the planets just don't align and things don't go the way you want them to. BUT, Marge was having a great time. I'd go and let her enjoy herself and just be happy and celebrate that victory, whether she has a good run or not. It honestly doesn't look like such a terrible run to me.

AC September 19, 2010 at 12:19 PM  

I'm sorry you had a tough day. That trial site sounded really busy. From another fearful pup mom, I think your first point about Marge adjusting immediately to the environment makes it a victory day. By the looks of the videos, if Marge was stressed (not just distracted) it didn't show much.

Hope you feel better about today!

AC September 19, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

Oh, forgot to ask...was the table counting down?!

Stella September 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

I also know very little about agility, but I have been able to see that Marge loves it and does well most always.

Diana wrote a wonderful comment and I think you ought to frame it, reading it before every meet.

Good luck to the both of you!

Jo, Stella and Zkhat

Sue September 19, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

It almost sounds like you were having a bad day and Marge was being quite the social animal. Visiting the steward, while not part of the course, sounds like a big step in the right direction as far as socialization goes. Relax, everyone has bad days. We've had a bunch of them lately.

Anonymous September 19, 2010 at 3:08 PM  

Sorry you two had a bad day :(

Tomorrow will be better :)

Hugs and happy wags comin your way,

Natasha September 19, 2010 at 4:08 PM  

Sorry about your off day. I'm sure everything will work out fine. I think a lot of times we get worked up over something that turns out to be nothing! I don't think you should worry right now (easy to say, not easy to do!!), this hasn't happened to you before, it could have easily just been a fluke.

Have fun tomorrow!

Chris and Ricky September 19, 2010 at 7:38 PM  

Sorry you had a bad day yesterday (I sure hope you went back today) but I love everything Diana said and she is so right! I saw lots of positives about your runs - especially how happy Marge was! She looked like she was having a blast! You said yourself that she had no trouble adjusting to being at a new trial site - isn't that reason enough to be overjoyed at yesterday's experience? I wonder if Marge is starting to let go of some of her fears and extreme sensitivity and maybe you'll have to let go of the way you have had to protect her for so long and develop a new way of being with her? Wouldn't that be so amazing? If so it is all due to your hard work and love and patience, Sam!

We know from our own experience that you have good days and bad days, connected days and unconnected days, etc. at trials. No big deal - we're both still new to trialing and will get more comfortable and enjoy it all more as time goes on.

Chris and Ricky September 19, 2010 at 7:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cyndi and Stumpy September 19, 2010 at 8:15 PM  

Marge is a star! I know it, you know it, everyone knows it! Sounds to me, that considering the environment she shined even brighter than ever! I can't watch the videos...bummer!

Kathy Mocharnuk September 19, 2010 at 10:08 PM  

You have moved up, the courses are a little harder and your dog is more excited about agility, she looked like she was just more excited and wanting to go, I think it happens to every faster dog that starts getting used to trialing and then gets excited and likes it...they get where they want to move faster then you are used to, and might not be paying as much attention. It really was nice. Heck join the club, my dog is so rock solid on start lines is breaking hers, my dog lthat does her weaves where I can not get her to miss in class sails by the first four poles, LOL, you guys will get it together, I would think a few runs like this are to be expected, so do not be hard on yourself, you did great.

Lorenza September 19, 2010 at 10:46 PM  

Sounds like you had there some things not usual for Marge.
Don't be too hard with yourself.
I hope you went there today and enjoyed it more than yesterday!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Wyatt September 20, 2010 at 12:04 AM  

It's supposed to be fun for you and your dog. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have already achieved so much more than most!!

Wyatt and Wyatt's Mom

Try it with an Airedale...we can show you some real bloopers!! Haha

LauraK September 20, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

I'm sorry you gals kind of had an "off day". They happen. Don't get too discouraged about it. At the end of the day, Marge still loves you more than life and you both love agility. You'll be back to clicking on course in no time :) Looking forward to hearing if you decided to run on Sunday or not.

Kari in Alaska September 20, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

It sounds to me like the trial runs didn't go well but that there was a lot of growth with Marge in terms of adjustment and socialization which i think you should see as a huge win in the end.


BRUTUS September 24, 2010 at 7:46 PM  

OK, better late than never, right? I have to still see you post about sunday, so I'm commenting as I go...

Believe me, I TOTALLY understand how frustrating it is when you know your dog is off/unsettled. But seriously - even a year ago, you would have dreamed of having such "problems"!?! Your runs didn't look all that bad - so Marge was distracted & not at her best. But she was just sort of goofy, nothing reactive or anything or the sort! She still worked for you, just not her usual focus. Disappointing, yes - but if that's the worse thing she ever does to you in an agility ring, you are way better off than me!

Keep you chin up, Sam - you guys look great even when you aren't at you best!


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