Monday, April 25, 2016

Sixteen Months

Another State Agility Trial is behind us and unfortunately for me it was as big of a disaster as last year for Cassie and me.  Things had been going so well with Cassie leading up to it but on the weekend she did not want to be there in any way, shape or form.  In her defence Saturday was most definitely not pappy running weather (nor person running weather for that matter…) with the day hitting a top of 33 degrees.  The following day, while humid was much better but she still wasn’t interested.  She was so not into it that any time I got her out to see what mood she was in she just turned her back on me.  Hard to be much clearer about her intentions than that!  The only saving grace for the weekend was getting to run Sue’s magnificent Border Collie Dan.  Dan may be nine years old and only coming out for some fun as his love of agility is no less than it has ever been, but he gave me one of the most fun runs I have ever had. Not only going clear but coming second by just over 0.1sec to another super dog who is probably a good six years or so younger than him.

It was hard to not feel pretty down after the weekend about where Cassie and I are at.  The State Trial was most definitely not a confidence building exercises with Nationals all of four weeks away.  Not much I can do at this point as I’m really running out of time.  So between now and when we leave I will simply strip everything back for her, make it really easy and try and re-inject some fun which we appear to have lost.  My main concern is that I’ve pushed her too quickly and overwhelmed her which is unfortunately very easy to do.  I was trying to build some skills so we’ll have some hope of tackling the Masters courses, but I’m going to have to abandon that and go back to very easy only.  When it comes down to it, I would rather her be happy and stuff every course up than for her to not want to run at all.  She sure doesn’t make it easy for me and no one will ever be able to accuse me of taking her ability for granted!  I truly cherish every good run I have with her.  I'm just so disappointed that I can't be better for her and she so deserves for everyone to see just how amazing she is.

Veto - 16 months
I am very thankful that my youngster is helping to make me feel slightly less hopeless as a dog trainer.  I am enjoying every moment of bringing him along and watching him grow in confidence and skill level.  Thanks to a timely Suprelorin implant his desire to pee on everything has definitely decreased.  While I don’t trust him completely yet and choose his off leash time carefully, I can at least now be confident enough to give it a try.  Last week for the first time ever at the Dogs West grounds I was brave enough to attempt a full sequence with him at training and was extremely surprised that he made what was well and truly masters level seem easy.  His understanding of the verbals/handling at this point is pretty good and if I ever had any doubts about committing to the H360 methodology his response to it has erased any questions I might have had around using it.

Home Agility Arena - 2016
I’m happy with his progress with both the running dog walk and running A-frame.  A bit of work still do be done on tight turns but for novice level what we have now I’m very pleased with and we'll keep working on the rest.  I have started introducing the tyre, spread and broad jump with a bit of beginning level see-saw work.  This month I also added in some compression jumps grids to see how he managed going from big strides back to small and vice-versa.  Overall I was impressed with how he managed them and I’ve not seen anything to doubt that he will be able to handle whatever he comes across.  His turning has improved out of sight.  I think most likely due to the exercise program I have all of them on now.  He used to be such a skinny little weed but the core strengthening has given him a real barrel down his middle and it’s hard not to think that it has played a big part in his improved jumping skills.   I hadn't planned it but at last weekend’s trial the opportunity arose to get him measured and he came in pretty much spot on what I thought he would be at 54cms.  Lots of people had thought he might be a 600 height dog but he is only slightly taller than Sonic who is 53cms.  So into 500 he goes.

The only thing that has defeated me so far with his training is getting Veto to single stride his weavers.  It is just not a happening thing.  But I’m fairly certain the issue is his structure which very much takes after his mother.  Being cattle lines they simply do not have the angulation that you see in the working sheep lines.  So I’m pretty sure that his inability to single stride is in direct relation to his lack of angulation.  Fortunately his bounce stride looks really comfortable and even at this early stage is a decent speed. The other day I set up 12 straight poles just to see how he went.  He managed the straight weaves really well but had to R-E-A-L-L-Y concentrate and I couldn't go in front of him or it all fell apart and he couldn't stay in them!  I'll stop being mean for a while and take it back to 8, proof some more and then work our way back up to 12.  It's another two months before he can trial so no rush with those.  Most importantly we are having an awesome time!