Monday, October 15, 2007

A foster puppy and a great agility dog

Once again I've fallen behind on my goal to blog often. I worked overtime all last week, plus we are again hosting a foster puppy. I also ran my dogs in agility trials the past two weekends, so I'm a bit exhausted.

The puppy was a surprise, brought to us by the boy down the street. Someone was giving away puppies, he brought one home and his parents said no way. So of course he brought it to the "dog people" on the block. He was very sad to have to give up his puppy. She is very young--the vet estimated last week that she was only 6 weeks old, and we have no idea what breed or mix she is. Our local shelter is under parvo quarantine, which means she would have almost certainly gotten the needle after 5 days if she went in. What else could we do? We had potential adopters for the pup who were supposed to pick her up yesterday, but they backed out at the last minute when they realized having a puppy would be a lot of work. Tell me about it. I'm glad they thought of it BEFORE taking her home, though--a lot of people don't. But that still leaves us with a puppy on our hands. She's cute as a button and sweet as pie, so I'm hoping it won't be long. She needs more attention than we really have for her right now.

Anyway, I really want to talk about agility because I just had two great trials in a row: USDAA this past weekend, and NADAC the previous weekend. I couldn't be happier with the way Lucy and I are doing. I really think focusing on my mental game has made a huge difference, because I haven't had time to do much extra training. It's as if Lucy were just waiting for me to get my act together before she showed me how really awesome she could be.

In NADAC, Lucy and I racked up two Qs each in Chances and Tunnelers and one each in Touch & Go, Weavers and Regular. I was really pleased with the way we worked together. Pleased to distraction, in fact: during our Jumpers run first thing Sunday morning, I was so caught up with thinking about how awesome Lucy was that I sort of forgot to pay attention to the course and didn't realize it until we'd taken two off-course jumps. Oops!

In USDAA we far exceeded my expectations, getting two Jumpers Qs, and one each in Gamblers, Snooker, Grand Prix and Standard. (We now need only one more Standard Q for our MAD title!) I felt really good about every run--like I'm actually becoming the handler my awesome dog deserves. I think she's noticing, too, because she was fast, as if she's thinking "Finally, I can open up and run and trust that you're actually telling me what you really want me to do." And the only thing I've really changed since the awful trial a month ago is my attitude.

With Gomey, things aren't quite as wonderful. We did well together in NADAC, earning two tunnelers Qs and one each in Regular, Jumpers and Chances, and I felt like he was really clicking with this whole agility thing. Then the USDAA trial was a disaster. It was as if he'd completely left his brain at home and had no idea why we were out there. It's like that every time we run at our "home" facility, so something about trialing there just confuses the heck out of him and makes him silly. The funniest monent was in our Snooker run, when I ran him to the opening of a tunnel that ran under an A-frame, perpendicular to it (i.e., there was no discrimination involved). I said "TUNNEL!" and pointed directly at it, and even though he was about a foot from the opening, Gomey turned away, ran a big circle all the way around the tunnel and A-frame and then decided to actually go in the tunnel. It was just crazy and inexplicable. Maybe I'll just stop trialing him at PBH because it's starting to get a little frustrating.


steve said...

Hi Lisa - very cool Lucy news! They really can tell when we don't know where we are going :^) I can't wait to say the classic line... "Lisa and Lucy went MAD" (I think that was an appropriate use of quotes... but maybe not ellipses).

So are you saying you have decided you are pro-Lanny? I still have to listen to the CDs (I went to his seminar and thought a lot of it made sense).

Lisa B. said...

Yeah, I think I'm pro-Lanny. Mind you, I'm not following his advice to a T; I don't keep the kind of journal he recommends and I don't write down my goals and affirmations. But I do what I feel was the most essential stuff: rehearse the positive, don't dwell on what can go wrong or what did go wrong, try make my self-image inspirational and positive and not detrimental (i.e., "Lucy and I have trained this stuff, we communicate well and I know how to handle these courses" instead of "I always make a lot of mistakes" or "I have such a long way to go before I'll be a great handler.")

I this be biggest difference it has made is that Lucy picks up on my confidence. As a result she's showing me that she really does know her job--I don't have to babysit everything she's doing, which frees me to concentrate on what I need to do to communicate the course to her.

So I do recommend giving Lanny a read or a listen.

LucyandWalter said...

One of the good things about running two dogs is if one is having a lousy day, the other might be having a great one so with any luck it all evens out. :-)