This summer has been an incredibly hectic one. With work events and out-of-town visitors, all the while trying to make it to several agility classes a week, it’s a little nuts. That doesn’t even include the normal seasonal craziness of covering other people’s vacations, local festivals, and trying to squeeze in time to enjoy the outdoors. We’ve only been camping once and it’s already July 26th.
Summer is always much too short. Before I know it, it’s all over and I haven’t done half the things I planned. So in order to avoid my usual fall disappointment I’m trying to take things a little easier and leave a little more room for fun. Spend less time trying to get everything done and more time enjoying evenings in the paddle boat on our lake.
It’s been too hot here to do much work anyway. Getting Shiva to focus on a normal day is hard enough, but in the extreme humidity it’s almost impossible. I’m lucky if I can get thirty seconds of attention out of her at a time. Due to this, we haven’t been to as many classes as usual in the last month. The idea of standing around outside in a sand-filled agility ring while trying to be more exciting than sixty different doggy distractions just doesn’t fill my heart with glee when the humidex is over eighty.
So we’ve been focussing on control exercises instead. That’s probably where she needs the most work anyway, if this past Saturday’s seminar in Grand Desert is to be any indication. With all the cars and dogs and food-filled bags lying around, that place is like a full system overload for the Shivster. Even the instructor considers it a success if we can get Shiva to complete even just one task before running around like a lunatic.
Yes, that dog, the one that just jumped into the back of your van, ate all of your dog’s food, then ran around the field in circles, that dog is my dog. We may be the only handlers in agility history to use a shopping bag as a reward. Don’t knock it; it works. It gives Shiva something to shove her face into and entertains a crowd at the same time!
However, before you think I’m being completely lazy, I have signed up for Susan Garrett’s 5-Minute Formula E-Course. We need all the recall help we can get. Hopefully what I learn from this I’ll be able to use in future years with future dogs. It’s well worth the investment, I think.
I’m still trying to come up with a complete list of Shiva’s biggest distractions. Experimenting with Shiva’s preferences has been enlightening for me, and lots of fun for her. Obviously food within sniffing distance is a number ten and water is a zero, but figuring out everything else in between is a challenge. For instance, it’s hard to figure out where wildlife rank on the list without actually going out and finding a deer. Since I don’t think she’s ever seen one before it may either rank very high or very low. Nothing about this dog training thing is simple, is it?
All of this is really just a long ramble to say that things are going well. Here’s to August being a much more relaxed month!