Yes, it’s been awhile but we’ve been very busy. We’ve had some changes around here as far as where I’m going with both dogs and my plans to get there. I’ve had a big shift in focus with both pups, but for different reasons. Before I continue, I would like to say that we have been trialing, but I’ve just not been motivated to post about them. So if you’re interested in seeing our runs from the summer months, go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/tailsofgold?feature=mhum
With Rue, my main focus now is fun, fun, and more fun. As time went on, it was becoming more evident that she just wasn’t having enough of it out there and was showing me that in the form of trotting painfully slowly around the course. It wasn’t every time, but it was becoming more and more the norm to have her just barely make time or totally lose her to sniffing on course, bleh. I believe part of her issue was that she was going through a false pregnancy through June and July. It was also hotter than heck here in NC this summer. Add to that a tick disease and loss of muscle mass, poor girl just didn’t feel good. However, I know Rue and I know she’s got some issues with pressure, so curing the tick disease and getting her hormones back to baseline were not the only answers. So we’re doing some fun and unique things in training and in trials I spent the entire summer running her on 5-10 obstacles only on course. I saw a definite improvement in her drive off the line and have recently been occasionally running a full course with great success. We have a long road ahead of us and it’s up to me to continue to stay focused on FUN and not get wrapped up in the Q.
My shift for Miles is to focus more on conditioning than on agility alone. He’s had a couple of health scares this summer (Lyme disease, followed by near liver failure due to doxycycline for the Lyme, followed by some minor back issues). It’s become much more apparent to me that my relationship with him and his health and happiness come way before any competitive goals. No, I cannot help that he got a tick disease, those suckers are evil and get on them regardless of Frontline every 3 weeks. But I need to be his advocate at all times and pay attention to what he’s telling me…no matter how subtle that may be. Further, I can make it my duty to keep him as sound as possible. So my focus is on conditioning and finding a balance between too much agility for him and too little for me. I thought this would be more difficult that it is, but I’m finding that I really missed having multiple weekends at home and I thouroughly enjoy having more time to take the dogs hiking and just plain existing with them.
All that being said, I decided to go back and revisit the goals I wrote out for us in the beginning of this year to see what we have accomplished, but also to see where I can make some changes. Here are the goals as they stood in January….comments and revisions are in italic red. Thanks for reading!
Long Term Goals (Define Your Destination)
–Miles: MACH by fall 2010 We’re getting close!! Only 5 QQ’s to go 🙂
Qualify for and attend 2010 USDAA Nationals Check. Heading out in 4 weeks! Qualified for all events and even earned a bye to PGP Semis!
Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals Check. We were qualified by the end of April.
Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Invitational Letting this one go. Requires far too much trialing and led me to focusing on the wrong things for me and Miles.
–Rue: Qualify for and attend 2010 Southeast USDAA Regionals We went, but played in Starters classes only. She loved Perry!!
Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals Haha, nope. We have 3 QQs, but very few points. Gave this up back in May when I decided that she wasn’t having enough fun in agility yet. *Maybe* we’ll be ready for 2012….
Qualify for and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals This is still a realistic goal. I’d like to see her being able to play in a couple events.
Short Term Goals (Make a Road Map)
– Miles: MX/MXJ by spring 2010 Completed both by mid-March
Earn Q’s in Performance Speed Jumping, PVP and Performance Grand Prix by spring 2010 That was easy! We were fully qualified for Nats in February after only 2 trials.
ADHF (Golden Retriever Agility Dog Hall of Fame) by summer 2010 Miles fulfilled his requirements over Memorial Day weekend!
– Learn how to communicate the difference between a lateral motion rear-cross and a forward motion/deceleration rear-cross Feeling much better about this.
– Trust him in longer lead outs if needed in competition We’re getting better, but he still needs more jump starts than leadouts to keep his motivation high and stress level low.
– Practice pushes into a tunnel under the frame/dogwalk Haven’t concentrated on this much.
– Practice lateral pulls off the aframe Circle of death training completed and he’s been a rock star with his frames!
– Practice discriminations without having to go so deep to get the tunnel Needs work.
– Maintain at least 5yps course times in JWW and at least 4yps course times in Standard Definitely there and getting even faster.
– Achieve and maintain consistency at speed earning at least 130 points per month No longer concentrating on points since I dropped the Invitational idea, but still pushing for speed since it’s fun!
– Rue: AX/AXJ by early summer 2010 Rue earned her AXJ in January, her AX in March, and her MXJ in May.
Earn a Q in (at least) Steeplechase by late spring 2010 Didn’t even enter any tourneys in USDAA.
– Make the teeter a favorite obstacle It’s not a favorite, but she seems much more confident with it. Need to continue to play teeter games a few times a month.
– Tug in as many different locations/situations as possible Boy have we been places 🙂 She’s a tuggin’ fiend!
– Achieve a reliable and drivey start line routine This is coming along for sure, but I’d still like to see her blasting off the line more consistently.
– Visit and train in as many different locations as possible Still working on finding new places.
– Alternate running courses without cookies with higher pressure short sequences with rewards on me Changed this to her tug toy. She seems to be just as drivey if I have the toy or if I throw it down before we start.
– Ask neighbors to come over and watch us train and act as ring crew/judge Slacked on this one.
– Start working more seriously/systematically on dogwalk turns For now I’ve decided that she gets extension cues for everything and then we turn on the flat. Seems to be working!
– Achieve and maintain at least 4yps in JWW and at least 3yps in Standard 4yps is just plain slow. I want to see her in the high 4’s to low 5’s in JWW and the high 3’s to low 4’s in Standard.
Word your goals thoughtfully:
– Rue is motivated to work/play with me
– I am confident in my handling choices for each dog
– Miles slams into a down on the table
– Rue had a fast and drivey teeter
– Rue runs fast and extended
– Rue and I move together as a connected team
– Miles rides the teeter all the way down
– Rue blasts off the line and drives around the course
– Rue flies through her poles
– Miles loves it when I lead out
Know the reasons why:
– Winning is fun
– Proving that Goldens can be very competitive in agility
– Becoming a more credible dog trainer
– Pushing myself beyond my limits
– More letters after/before my dogs’ names
– Recognition from peers, instructors, and elite competitors
– Sense of accomplishment
– Sense of self-worth
– Fear of failure
– Fear of injury