Last weekend the agility club I belong to, Agility Club of New Hampshire, held a trial at American K9 Country. I was on the trial committee* so I entered us for Standard and Jumpers both days.
As part of on going efforts to help with the weave poles in public problem, Chico and I went to run thrus at AK9C on Friday. I took lots of the very best treats and after a very slow start (I had nothing at first, finally someone shouted “Just start running!” and I did and Chico came along), the rewards helped build drive and, eventually, Chico managed to start to run through the poles like he can at Julie’s and I was able to play Mommy Warbucks with the most divine of all goodies.
But on Saturday, we still managed very little connection, and Chico couldn’t weave.
At the end of the day, I was sitting and chatting with a nice woman and her itty-bitty little sheltie (really, he was a diminutive example of the breed, not more than 12 or 15 pounds I bet). She asked if Chico was good with dogs, I said “He’s fine with small ones like yours, an Irish Setter or Golden, maybe not so much, but your little guy, no problem.” The two dogs sniffed and wagged. They played a little treats-by-turn. Chico said he wasn’t much of a player and Shelti guy respected that. I conversed more with the handler and it turned out that Shelti guy had been the beneficiary of the club’s efforts to raise funds to pay his vet bills after being mauled by, as she said, the “American Staffordshire Terrier of a former friend.”
So here was my socially damaged dog and her socially damaged dog, getting along fine. Was it because neither of us knew that her dog was with another damaged dog and had no energy in that direction? If I had known that Chico was with a dog that had been mauled, I would have been on edge to make sure he didn’t snarl or snap; if she’d thought her dog was with a dog-aggressive dog, she might well have been on edge waiting for something to happen. And the cumulative effect of the humans’ tension surely could have caused aggression between these two mending dogs.
So, all that was not lost on me as I drove home. I decided that at this point I worry about weave poles in competition and that, since my dog can read my mind, our biggest problem is between my ears.
Soooo, the next morning I told myself that there were no poles on the jumpers course. The goal was to think “Yes, they are there, but I am not going to do more than note their existence and plan my entry and exit.”
And while it took the allowed three tries, we managed a decent set of poles. Yay CHICO!
It would have been a qualifying run save for an off course at the end, all the handler’s fault, I assure you. Unfortunately the video cuts off before I congratulate Chico and the crowd cheers, but I assure you, they did.
I didn’t run my plan, it just didn’t work that way. At one moment I realized I was running the Katherine’s plan for that part of the course, thanks for loaning it to me! And we could have gotten those poles the second time if I had let Chico get ahead of me before he went in. I stopped and he stopped. But there ya go, that’s why we watch the video – maybe next time I can keep more awareness of myself while I direct him.
There has been a lot of talk within the exhibitors about what a fun trial it was. Everyone was relaxed, cheering the runs of others, feeling their pain (someone’s dog pooped in the ring, one of the top five most mortifying errors possible); the judge gave us fun, challenging, flowing courses, she had something nice to say about every run from every exhibitor – it was very gezellig.
On a not-so-doggy note, I volunteered to take the trial recycling home and to my transfer station. The club has nice signs to put up, asking people to use the special can in the cafe, and son-of-a-gun, they DO! I patrolled the regular trash barrels, looking for mis-filed bottles or cans, and found not a one. In all my pathological recycling and trash-duty volunteering, I have never before experienced 100% compliance on recycling. Never before. Will you think I am silly, dear reader, if I say that I am proud beyond words to be a member of a group that achieves that goal?
*A trial committee is required by the American Kennel Club. It’s a formality, committee members are required to be there from the time the doors open each day until everything is done and cleaned up at the end of the day. If some fool acts out of line, the committee is called together to decide on any disciplinary action. In the four years I have been taking Chico to trials, there has been a committee at every one, and I’d never been on it, so figured it was my turn. And I’ve never heard of the committee being called together, so it seemed likely that I wouldn’t have to help make any big decisions.