This weekends State Agility trial definately had it's highs and lows for me and Sonic. The young fella has been going so well I did have pretty high expectations on having a successful States. I felt that if we had good clear runs we could very easily take out both Novice classes. Then we have reality...hahaha!
Our week prior at training was pretty good. The only groan moment being when for the first time Sonic ran up the dog walk and quite clearly thought it was the see saw. I immediately wanted to throw myself on the ground and bash my fists against it while screaming "PLEEEASE put the slats back on the dog walk". So my training strategy with the States imminent was that I didn't do the see saw all week while I worked on building his confidence up again on the dog walk. When training a novice dog for ANKC agility you have to expect that the dog walk/see saw issue will rear it's ugly head (that is if you want a fast dog walk), but it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. However, we shall grit our teeth and work through it.
Now, back to the States. Friday night was the first lot of heats with the first seven dogs going through to the final on Saturday afternoon. My first event with Sonic was Novice Jumping and a fairly tricky course set by Mel Rhoden, but nothing that I thought would be a big problem. Unfortunately we did have problems which started before we started with Sonic getting up and coming with me when I went to leave him on the start line. I attempted to fix it but it was really just a big mess. He seemed rather overwhelmed by the occasion. So I tried to reassure him and we doddled around to see if I could give him some confidence back.
Next up was Novice Agility with a very nice course built by Jill Housten. I wasn't sure what was going to happen after our Jumping debacle, I was really just hoping that I could recover Sonic's confidence. But I needn't have worried as he ran a flawless course with his fastest dog walk yet in a competition. That gave us first place and a berth in the Novice Agility final on Saturday.
Saturday morning was day two and the second lot of heats with the top seven dogs also going through to the finals in the afternoon. First up again for me was Novice Jumping and I was looking for that clear round that would take us to a finals berth. Unfortunately it was not to be. The course was spread out with a long run up the back followed by a long run back to the other side. To control him into an off entry tunnel I needed to be where I had no hope of getting and I lost him into the off course. Looking back at the video I'm not sure how I could have cued him to let him know I needed him to slow down and pull off. I had to run up the first line to get the spread that was on a very hard angle for them to see if you didn't push them out to it. There was just no way I could get back. If I had a slower dog it wouldn't have been a problem but he was going like the clappers (which I'm not complaining about). He was quite clearly feeling confident and there'se nothing wrong with that!
Our last event from the heats was Novice Agility and as we had already qualified for the final I decided to push him a little to see if his behaviours would hold up. It was another lovely Novice Agility course, this time built by Judy Tsakalos. Once again it was a cracker of a run with a dog walk that was even faster than the day before, however unfortunately he dropped a bar following a front cross that I did. It would seem he is no longer a dropped bar virgin...
So my boy was in the Novice Agility final and I'm happy to admit was quite nervous! Mel Rhoden had built us a nice course but it was quite tight. I knew that if he went clear he should be fast enough to win so rather than push him I went for a calm, steady round that would be most likely to get me the clear that I wanted. Like the awesome dog that he is he worked beautifully and clear is what he gave me. It was the quietest round he'd run all weekend but it was clear and that's all I wanted and it was enough to claim first place and State Novice Agility winner for 2009. Whooohooo.
Congratulations to all the winners over the weekend. There was certainly many great rounds, the highlight for me being some scorching runs in the finals of Masters Jumping. Awesome stuff.
I'd like to say that the excitment of the States was enough for one weekend however I had more excitment (not the good sort though) when I got home. I had left both Soda and Angel home as it's not much fun being stuck in a car all day. I left the dog door open so they could go inside or outside as they pleased. Unfortunately it would appear that Soda couldn't wait for me to get home and give her dinner, so instead found and proceeded to inhale almost all of Colin and mines Easter egg stash (foil and all in some cases). We worked out that she would have eaten about 700g so after a panicked phone call to Kriszty and then Murdoch Vet Emergency Centre she was bundled into the car and taken to Murdoch for treatment. The vet told me that for a dog of her weight more than 100g is toxic so Soda had well and truly consumed the mother load. Following a dose of washing crystals, a massive vomit of chocolate (including wrappers), a dose of charcoal AND a large bill, Soda and I returned home. She looked briefly upset by the experience but by morning was back to her normal self, standing in the hallway at 7am this morning with her "where the hell is my breakfast" expression... Go Soda. Obviously I am grateful that it ended well. Quite clearly it could easily have killed her.
We have three trials coming up this weekend with Sonic in his first Excellent Jumping classes. Although he finished his Novice Agility title off at the States I am more than happy for him to stay in Novice for this weekend. And more time to train this damn see saw!