Thanks to everyone for their amazing support! When Sunday morning came, I will admit I came up with multiple excuses to bail. One of the reasons I didn’t was that I didn’t want to let you all down. I knew you were rooting for us and I couldn’t ignore all your kind words of encouragement. When we got in that car, it was in large part due to you. It’s a lot of power you all have over me, apparently. I trust you will use it responsibly.
The agility fun match was just as much fun as I predicted it would be. My only real disappointment is that we were unable to attend the three-day training weekend due to work getting in the way. One only has so many opportunities to train with someone from the Canadian World Agility team. The few minutes we had with her on the weekend were awesome. I felt more motivated than I ever have just being in her presence. After a brief shaping session, Shiva can now even boast to have been “trained” by a world-class handler. Pretty special, I’d say. Fortunately, she will be back in August for another full weekend so hopefully we will be able to get out for that. I’d hate to miss the action twice!
Before anyone gets excited, however, I will say right out that we didn’t run any courses. No full courses anyway. In fact, we pretty much spent the afternoon like this:
It’s my fault. I was nervous. Too nervous to even think of trying to gather my nerves, let alone expect Shiva to focus. It’s okay. I don’t feel bad about it. I know I made the smart choice. Sometimes the most important work is behind the scenes. Everyone kept saying how well she was doing, how calm she seemed, what a good dog she was. It was really encouraging. No one thought it was weird we were just sitting there, watching and rewarding our dog for her attention. Many of them have seen her in action before – they know of what she is capable!
At the end, as the others drifted out, one of our instructors suggested we try a few jumps. There were still enough people and dogs in the building to serve as distractions, but not enough to make her lose it completely. She did well. After a few seconds she decided to make her own fun, as usual, but I still got some real work out of her. And I made a few more discoveries of what I need to work on.
1. Keep moving.
2. Balance fast action with slow control, keep her guessing.
3. Reward, reward, reward.
Thus, we don’t have any fun photographs of me ripping my hair out. I do apologize.
We were boring this time and set her up for success as much as possible. It was impressive how Shiva could lay right beside a tunnel while other dogs were running through it without taking her eyes off us. That wouldn’t have been possible even four months ago. Tunnel sucker.
Our goal now is to attend as many trials as possible and just hang out. Now that I don’t have to worry about her jumping on every single dog she sees, she may gradually get used to offering behaviours in new, highly charged environments.
Next stop, Canadian World Team?