Thanks for all of your well wishes and words of advice last week. Shiva is doing a little better this morning. She’s actually slept through the night the past couple days, which is nice for all of us. I am pretty convinced now it was the kibble. I checked the ingredients and noticed one of the primary proteins was lamb, something she’s not had much of before. We suspect she might have an intolerance to red meat. For the next while I am going to keep her on the bland, homemade diet, and then will try to slowly reintroduce a brand of kibble she has done well on before. It sucks that we’re going to have to throw all of this stuff away. At eighty bucks a bag, it wasn’t cheap! But at least now we know what to avoid in the future.
We also had another agility workshop on Sunday. This one was on advanced handling techniques, basically teaching us slow humans how to communicate better with our dogs on the course. It’s pretty cool to know a trainer with an indoor agility arena in her backyard. Otherwise due to the pouring rain ala Tropical Storm Ophelia, the seminar would have been cancelled. Shiva had a great time, of course, while I worked hard to cram as much information into my head as I could in a five-hour period.
We’re still having a lot of the same issues. Most of them are my fault as it seems like the rules keep changing. Once I get used to one method of doing something, a trainer will ask me to experiment with something else. My uncoordinated mind and body has to start at the beginning again. However, Shiva does have her own struggles. She hates, hates, hates to collect. When she is running at top speed, she gets frustrated when I make her check her stride in a sharp turn. It often causes her to growl or bark at me, letting me know she is not thrilled with the situation. If my cues aren’t exact, she will choose to ignore them and speed ahead. With this dog, timing is everything. These collection issues are part of the reason we have yet to conquer the dang weaves. She will frequently “woof” at me if I make her slow down and perform them properly, instead of just plowing through and knocking them all over. Apparently destroying the course is a lot more fun.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for two years and still have yet to enter a trial. This surprises a lot of people. But I need to feel remotely confident of my ability to keep Shiva with me before I can enter such a nerve-wracking environment. While I could have jumped in and started competing this past spring, or even last fall, I know it would have been a disaster. Agility is supposed to be fun. Dealing with the mortification of my dog blowing me off to run through a tunnel over and over and over again would not have been a good time. Well, not a good time for me, that is, Shiva would have had a blast. I think by waiting and training so much before ever entering the ring will help us in the long run. I still don’t anticipate ever bringing home a ribbon, or even moving beyond Starters, but I hope I will enjoy myself and actually want to go back.
To keep myself honest and accountable, I am going to publicly set the goal of entering our first, real live trial in the Spring of 2012. By next April, Shiva and I will give this competition thing a go. I vow. And I fully expect you all to hold me to this.
What goals have you set lately? Are you and your dog working on a new behaviour? Are you just hoping to get through Monday without losing it? I want to hear about it!