Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy "Gotcha Day" Pinky!

Happy "Gotcha Day" Pinky!

One year ago today a little Puppy McNugget showed up at my house. I didn't think she was staying. I'm glad she did. I'm not sure exactly when she was born (around the end of August as near as I can figure), so at the suggestion of ... oh, I think it was Elayne, I celebrate Pinky's "Gotcha Day."

When I decided to keep her, I really had no idea whether she'd become a good agility dog or not. I just decided to take a risk because she's so damn cute and sweet and I had reached the point where there was no way I could NOT keep her. I'm still not sure how she's going to shape up, but I can report that we're making great progress ... but slowly.

Right now I have her in a class we're just calling "Agility Training Group." It's designed for young dogs with handlers who have already trained an agility dog and don't feel like spending time learning the difference between a front cross and a rear cross with the newbies. Pinky was a little stressy and spooky at first (something that wasn't such a problem with Lucy or Gomey), but she's starting to relax and have fun as the class goes on. I've been worried about speed because she tends to do the obstacles and mini-sequences very slowly, as if she's worried about doing the right thing or seriously considering wandering off to sniff the grass. But as I get her to relax more and more, she's speeding up quite a bit.

She particularly loves the contact trainer. After much mental debate, I decided not to teach running contacts for several reasons, but mostly because I think the amount of drilling and repetition required would be counterproductive at this point. What Pinky needs for motivation right now are extremely short and rewarding working sessions. Training 2o2o contact means the contact trainer has become the source of huge rewards and is very motivating.

She also seems to really love the closed chute. Something about barreling through the fabric seems to get her jazzed. In the house we play a game where I toss a sheet over her and she burrows around under it until she finds her way out, and she loves it so much that she goes nuts when I get a sheet of of the linen closet. I think the chute reminds her of that.

The jumps seem to worry her a little, so I've got to work on making them more motivating. I'm also being careful not to put them too high, because when she knocks bar, or even ticks it without knocking it, she gets rather stressed. This is new for me because Lucy has always loved jumps and rarely knocks bars. I never really had to any special exercises with her because she seems to have come hard-wired for good agility jumping style (it wasn't so great for flyball, however). I guess I need to take the Susan Salo and/or Linda Mecklenburg stuff more seriously now ...

In other news, I'm quite depressed about missing a local USDAA trial this weekend because I have to work. If Lucy and I hadn't got the ADCH already I'd be really heartbroken about missing the trial, but since we reached that goal I'm just a little sad. Really, aside from a health care plan, the main reason I maintain a steady job is to be able to consistently afford dog agility (I try to have a little something left over for housing, transportation and food, of course).