Monday, October 25, 2010

Inhale, Exhale

I'm trying my best to calm down about this whole agility trial thing.  I know that I'm overdramatic about it.  I think I'm just so afraid of screwing up Marge's agility career as a new dog owner and new agility handler that I overanalyze every little thing that goes on.

The suggestions I've gotten are all across the board.  I've had one or two people that told me to stop trialing altogether for an extended period of time.  I think that's kind of on the extreme side.  Most responses are within the range of "keep doing what you're doing."  Some cite me and my limited trial schedule as being responsible for Marge's apparent (and yes, slight) discomfort in the ring.

Ultimately, we ARE going to stop trialing for an extended period, just because of the winter, after our last outdoor trial on November 6th and 7th.  I can't bring myself to trial her indoors right now.  The noises are different, they may be louder because the sounds are contained.  It looks different, and it probably smells different, too. I think that trialing through the winter in places that neither Marge nor I are comfortable at would be more injurious than stopping for a while and picking up where we left off in the Spring.

I do think that part of the problem is that we haven't had a lot of class time this fall.  Between the heat, the rain, and whatever else, class has literally been cancelled every other week.  This past week, we barely had any running time in class at all - the class was full with 7 or 8 dogs, which meant we all got very limited time to work. Maybe I should set up some ring time again at the club to work on agility with Marge.  I'm planning on having a private lesson before the next trial, but not this week - this week is reserved for a massage for Marge.

I'm trying very hard to get to a run-through this coming Saturday at another training facility.  So far, I've sent 2 e-mails, but haven't heard anything back.  It'll be a smallish group - 25 dogs or less - and it will be outdoors.  I feel horrible for asking Louie to go with me, even though he's more than happy to.  I'll have two minutes in the ring to do what ever I want.  Someone gave me the good idea of breaking it in half - doing one minute, then having the next dog run, then doing another minute.  I'm not sure if that'll be allowed, but I definitely want to keep things short, fun, and motivational, and I want to surprise Marge with rewards at problem areas (the table and the teeter, mostly).  We'll see if I'm able to go.

One thing I did do recently is cut back on Marge's L-Theanine.  I dropped her from 50 mg to 25 mg, because she has been doing SO well.   I'm going to bump it back up for the next two weeks, and perhaps give her 75 mg the day of a trial.

And that's about all that I can do.  I know that my stress might be adding to things, so I have to really work to change that.  I'm trying.


Cyndi and Stumpy October 25, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

You're doing a great job and so is Marge! Whatever else, it's clear you have marge's best interests at heart.

I raised my son telling myself Zif I am happy, I am teaching my son to lead and live a happy life. I think it works the same for our 4 legged companions!

Not trialing for an extended period does NOT mean no blogging, right???

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ October 25, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

That's all you can do is keep trying. We don't know anything about any of what you do, but it sure sounds to us like you do your very best for Marge.

Thanks for your comment on Phantom's episode. It is much appreciated.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Stella October 25, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

Sam, you said "I know that my stress might be adding to things, so I have to really work to change that. I'm trying."

Why not just let Marge do without agility until you DO change your stress. Let you be the priority here and take care of yourself. When you wind up with a hold on things, get back to the ring.

I just bet it would work.

Cheers and hugs,
Jo and Stella

KB October 25, 2010 at 8:00 PM  

Hey, That sounds like a great plan. I hope that my tone in my comment didn't come off as pointing fingers. I didn't mean to sound that way at all! I just tried to brainstorm like I would if Marge were my dog... I think you've brought her a tremendously long way, and you two have lots of fun trials in your future. This is just a glitch that you'll figure out how to handle!

Two French Bulldogs October 25, 2010 at 9:00 PM  

Way to go Marge. You sound like yo are doing a great job
Benny & Lily

houndstooth October 25, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

I say, just do some things together that are fun for both of you, whether it's going to class or trials or hiking or just going for fun walks.

Don't worry so much about messing her or her agility career up. We learn as much from our mistakes and failures, sometimes more, as we do from our successes. As long as you and Marge have a good relationship together, you'll have fun doing things together!

BRUTUS October 25, 2010 at 11:48 PM  

Great photo!! The fall colors in the background and the fact that her collar matches the AF!! You should definitely by that one!

How about going to those indoor trials for a short period of time & just making it a social visit (as opposed to actually entering them)? Do they specify "no unentered dogs" on the premium? If not you could go just to see how she reacts. Lots of treats and all. Carmen comes with us to trials just so she gets used to the venue, crating, ect - will make her actual agility career much more predictable I think!


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! October 25, 2010 at 11:51 PM  

You and Marge have done so well together given all she'd been through...

I'm sure good will continue!

Scout and Freyja October 26, 2010 at 1:13 AM  

This my momma knows: Life is way too short to sweat the small stuff (which looks big sometimes but really isn't). Smile, laugh, have fun!

Anna the GSD October 26, 2010 at 10:35 AM  

Sometimes you need a when I had my freakouts about Petsmart, we took a break and then I was fine. You've already come so far together...maybe some nice fall, doggie zen walks will help!

Dog_geek October 26, 2010 at 11:34 AM  

I'm just catching up a little... I also don't think Marge looked tremendously stressed in your videos. A little bit after the teeter flyoff, certainly, but she didn't shut down or anything. For the most part, I think she looks pretty happy.

My personal experience with all of my agility dogs (the stressy ones and the not-so-stressy ones) over the years has been that for their first year or so of trialing, each new site they go to and each new set of equipment they see requires a little bit of adjustment for them. Once they have more experience under thier belts, they aren't really phased by being in a new place for the first time, but when they are green, they just haven't generalized well enough. And usually the more times we have been to the same site, the more confident they are at that particular site. I think that is what you are seeing with Marge.

(BTW - there are no whistles in NADAC. Just sayin'!)

Gus, Louie and Callie October 26, 2010 at 5:29 PM  

You are doing a great job with Marge. Remember dogs can sense what you sense so think fun things.. Good luck..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Diana October 26, 2010 at 9:03 PM  

What a great picture!! Priceless! Diana

Golden Woofs! SUGAR October 27, 2010 at 7:42 AM  

Woof! Woof! Way to go ... great job. Golden Thanks for your message on my blog yesterday. It is all good now ... Lots of Golen Woofs, Sugar

andrea October 28, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

it's funny
I'm a pretty low stress person now (it took work - A LOT of work) and I overthink agility too - so you sure aren't alone

I don't trial Thea in yucky weather - which includes cold - different reasons than Marge but similar thinking - why set up failure? (Thea has about 30 classes under her belt so is a very green little dog too)

Kari in Alaska October 31, 2010 at 12:21 AM  

It sounds to me like you have really thought this out :)


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