Monday, April 11, 2011

The Dog Walk is Optional

On Saturday, Louie was kind enough to take Marge and I to a brand new trial site about an hour and a half away in Yaphank, Long Island.  Marge was coming off of a great weekend and I was confident that we'd pick up our first Excellent qualifying score (in either class).

Standard was first, and I LOVED the course.

We got out there and it was apparent that Marge was ready to go.  She fired through the weaves.  She completed the teeter (and heeded my instructions to wait in the middle while I front crossed).  She climbed the A-Frame quickly and moved across my feet in to the tunnel underneath it.  She got on the table and stayed put.

After the table, though, things got a bit funky.

First, she swung wide when she got off the table (which might have had to do with my positioning).  She fixed that and turned tightly over the double, but nearly bypassed the chute (hard to tell in the video).  She took the bar jump and was in perfect position to get on the dog walk.. but didn't.

It took three tries, including one moment where Marge decided to jump OVER the dog walk plank rather than execute the obstacle correctly.

Finally, she got on the dog walk.. but then leapt from the middle of the last plank, missing the contact completely, and took off for the final jump, which stopped the time and NT'd us.

My knee jerk reaction was to yell "HEY!!" at her (which I do not condone doing) .. not because I was mad at her for goofing up the agility (I wasn't), but because I was afraid she would exit the ring and go on a jaunt in the corn field behind us.  I then called her to come, and we finished the last two obstacles in the order that they were intended to be completed.

My personal feeling is that something stressed her at the table (maybe the table itself), but others who saw don't agree and think that she was just goofing.  Either way, I'm not terribly concerned (yet) because this was a new site and a longer course than she's used to (Open has less numbers), but this does make the second time where Marge has had dog walk trouble (not counting her slip last week, where she still held on to hit the contact) this year.

We had a longer wait than I anticipated until our next class, Excellent Jumpers with Weaves.

We walked around the site a bit.  I liked the site quite a bit, but there must be some shooting range or something nearby, because I kept hearing gun shots.  Marge heard them, too - she wasn't horribly scared by them but they definitely made her a bit uneasy.  This, unfortunately, truncated our walk time (I would have loved to go on a longer walk).  I'm not sure if I'll trial here again.

Romping around the site

Listening to the gunshots in the distance - scared me, too!

Our neighbors, next to where we set up.  It was great to be set up next to good friends.

Hanging out ringside.

It came time for me to walk Excellent Jumpers.  I was so flustered during the walk through because of the large number of people in the ring.  Guess this is what I'll be putting up with for the rest of Marge's agility career.

The course was hard. It was the first course that we've run in competition that was really completely ill-suited to rear crosses.  That means I would have to front cross, which really took me out of my comfort zone.  I did not think we would do well.

But, we did!  We got through the hardest parts of the course with minimal difficulty.  Marge got some nice distance and I was able to front cross with no problem.  

However, she did have a run-out at the second jump due to her snooter being on the ground, and a refusal after the weaves.  I'm going to chalk those up to baby dog/new trial site mistakes and not worry too much about it.  If she was very stressed, I don't think she would have read my front crosses (since I almost never use them).

So, no Q's to show for the day, but Marge definitely had some moments of brilliance. She's not going off course, she's not really running zoomies or anything.. so over all, I think she's handling the transition to Excellent very nicely.  And all of our runs this year, so far, have been NICE runs, whether they are Q's or NQ's.  Nothing like the crazy stuff that we had going on at the end of last year.  Fingers crossed that it stays this way.

Our next trial is not for almost a month, at a park near our house.  Removing transit time from the equation has been helpful for us in the past, and my familiarity with the site usually makes me more comfortable, too.  I just know we will pick up our first Excellent leg then!

We ended the day with a trip to Louie's house.  He had to pick something up from his parents, and it was on the way home.  Marge met Louie's parents and did fabulously with them. It was really cool to see her relatively comfortable in a strange place that had NOTHING to do with dog events. We stood outside the front door and chatted for a while, then went home and passed out on the couch.  It was a long day!


Amy / Layla the Malamute April 11, 2011 at 7:58 PM  

That Standard course looks fun! It looks like it has a really nice flow to it.

Sorry about the dog walk - I have no ideas or suggestions. But like I said, I do have ring rentals if you ever want to practice her on "new" equipment. It's probably an hour and a half away for you, but it's outdoors and private.

You're right, you'll get the Q's at Wolfe's Pond! (And not to sound selfish but I hope I'm there too!)

PS~ I had to laugh at you "hey"ing Marge. I "hey" Layla often, because my dad does it, and so my brother and I do too. My dad likes to sneak up on us and shout HEY at the top of his lungs. Since he has a very deep voice, it scares the shit out of you. Or if your window is open, he'll sneak around the outside of the house to do it. He's got a weird sense of humor like that, but it's become it's own verb - to "hey" someone. Anyway, I do use it sparingly on Layla because I remember it being terrifying, even if I'm not trying to scare her. It's very effective though - definitely gets someone to listen to you!

Chris and Ricky April 11, 2011 at 8:27 PM  

I think Marge had a blast at the trial! She sure does love agility! The hop over the DW plank was very cute and maybe she will start a new way of performing that obstacle that will catch on! LOL!

Good job you guys!

"Hey" is a term of endearment around here - LOL again!

Two French Bulldogs April 11, 2011 at 10:34 PM  

Gosh Marge you are special getting to do all those cool courses
Benny & Lily

Kathy Mocharnuk April 11, 2011 at 10:43 PM  

Were you nervous? Maybe Marge was picking up on that if you you have a touch cue for the dog walk for her 2020? Breeze gets excited enough and going fast enough she will totally leap past contacts if I dont remind her. To me it looks like she is having a blast and just needs to remember it is a team sport, LOL, and you will give her the course, I am sure she has even better ideas for a course, but.... I thought it could be a touch of zoomies from stress, but mostly it just looked to me like she is just figureing out all the rules. Good job you guys, you guys are really coming together so nicely, it is very exciting to see.

Sam April 11, 2011 at 10:58 PM  

After watching the video, I feel like my voice was really harsh throughout the entire course, so maybe I was nervous. But yes, Marge does have a 2o2o.. I told her "zone" which is her word as she was coming down the ramp, but she just sped up and leapt it.

I'm happy that the Jumpers run came afterwards, because although we had a couple of goofs, they weren't anything like what happened at the end of the Standard course.

Stella April 12, 2011 at 1:04 AM  

Marge is just gorgeous out there. I know nada about agility, but I can tell when a dog is having a good time and that Marge is!

Thanks for contacting Amber! It was good to hear all is well.

Cheers and hugs,

Jo and Stella

Diana April 12, 2011 at 5:57 AM  

Your runs look great!! I couldnt see you in the first approach to the DW but the second time your body and motion cued your dog not to take the dogwalk, she went the way you cued. So I wouldnt worry about the dogwalk. You guys looked great!

Sara April 12, 2011 at 6:03 AM  

Great runs Sam! I love the way Marge looks like she's soaring over the jumps. It looks like a pretty place to trial, but I understand why you might not want to go back there.

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! April 12, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

We knew you would appreciate the special passenger on Sunday's transport -

She was such a great girl!

Just like another Marge!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart April 12, 2011 at 9:42 AM  

We hear gunshots pretty often on our walks around here. I've joked with other rural friends that ... You know you live in the country when ... you say to your fearful dog "Nothing scary, just guns."

Kari in Alaska April 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM  

Silly Marge, jumping over the walk :)


Vicky April 12, 2011 at 6:55 PM  

I've always wanted a dog that could do agility. Unfortunately, I seem to be a magnet for the ones with bad knees.

Love this post!

Lorenza April 12, 2011 at 10:35 PM  

The best thing is that Marg enjoys it a lot, right?
Glad she did it pretty well with Louie's parents!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

KB April 15, 2011 at 6:44 PM  

Given the circumstances, Marge did awesomely!!! I could hear dogs barking almost continuously during your runs, and I actually wondered if it distracted Marge because she drifted when she got closer to the dog sounds.

But, all in all, she looked really happy, like she was having fun. That's what's most important!

I'd say that the fact that she handled meeting Louie's parents at the end of a long day of agility so very well speaks to the fact that she wasn't stressed out. That's great!

Sue April 16, 2011 at 2:06 PM  

Sometimes a girl just feels like improvising. Don't worry, just go on. I think she's really enjoying herself and not every run can be perfect. The important thing is to have fun.

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