Last weekend Kriszty and I headed off to Geraldton for a girls (and one boy) weekend of agility. It's been three years since I was last in our Mid West and it was fun being on the road again even if it is a five hour drive of pretty uninteresting road. Fortunately Kriszty and I are quite capable of talking non-stop for five hours and then some. I was optimistic that a country trial would be a great opportunity for Veto to get in the competition ring without the hustle and bustle of a city trial with one ring running and a lot less dogs to deal with in much smaller classes. And more practice traveling and being away from home.
The last couple of weeks at training he has been getting progressively better and less likely to be reactive. Strangely his behaviour has morphed from looking for other dogs to arc up about and react to, to being worried about other dogs looking at him and avoiding them. Or maybe it's not strange but it wasn't really a behaviour change I was expecting to see. I guess when you think about what he's doing it's kind of a move from active to passive but for the same reasons. Bottom line he is insecure around other male dogs and thinks he needs to protect himself. And naturally when you are trying to spend all your time protecting your dog from bad experiences they seem to search you out and find you. But overall he is hugely improved from where he was a month ago.
As is often the way with nested courses in one ring at country trials our Novice Agility courses were pretty challenging. The angles onto weavers and the dog walk were harder than in Masters. Fortunately for me Veto has always been trained at that level but I felt sorry for the real novices who were entered. In any case no clears for us in either agility class but Ve managed all the hard bits really well and he had a good stab at it. We had a bit more joy in the Novice Jumping courses with nice lines and plenty of space for him to stretch out. The boy did a super job on both going clear and finally finishing off his Novice Jumping title with his first NJ passes for 2017. The best bit though was with plenty of space at the entries and exits I could see his confidence growing over the two days. He was stretching out really nicely for me and we are getting closer to being back to before the wheels fell off. When I see him throw some bounce strides back in I'll be even happier!
Cassie on the other hand is not in her agility happy place right now. She really enjoys the trips away were she gets to be the center of my world for a few days. But she was a total misery guts at the trial and didn't want a bar of any part of it. She had no interest in engaging with me at all whether food or toys. She made a couple of attempts to run but you could see that she was totally unimpressed. The only thing I can think of is that she is still unhappy with trialling after the hot days I attempted to trial her in April. Up until that happened she had been very happy. I can't think of any other reason that would have impacted her this way. There is a part of me that is getting to the point of giving up. It is really getting ridiculous when it is this hard to get her to be happy in the ring more than once every six months. This far along I can't help but question what the point is. I don't have any more trials until the beginning of July so I'll spend the next few weeks just going back to seeing if I can get her to engage when she's training at the Dogs West grounds. If she gets her spark back then we'll see what happens. I would really love to be able to take her to the Nationals next year but I don't know right now if that is realistic or not.
My next adventure is a trip to Singapore to judge at one of their agility weekends. The invitation came out of the blue and I'm really looking forward to it. Singapore are now using the FCI rules so I'll be designing international courses just like we see in Europe. The rules aren't significantly different than ANKC but I've had to do a bit of reading to make sure I get my course design right. Like remembering things like putting weavers in jumping classes. Then we are going to stay on for about five days afterwards for a bit of a holiday. It will be very pleasant to be warm again now that winter is here.