Welllllll, I would really like to say that today was another stellar day of obedience, but it wasn't quite that. The day started off promising. The match was held at a lovely park in Vancouver, WA and the first half of the day was overcast, keeping the temperatures down. By the time we had our first run, there were a few wispy clouds left, but the sun was a shinin'. All I guess that I can say is that while Bess is otherwise acting totally back to herself (just ask Heffner who often serves as a make shift trampoline for her!), she's still not there training wise.
We got there early and after getting the soft crate set up under a tree (and getting bitten by a few mosquitoes!), I did a little warm up with Bess to see where she was at. I think my mistake was warming her up partly on cement. I've mentioned before that Bess has issues with different textured surfaces (she's slowly getting over the stuff that they have on the contact equipment now). I'm now pretty sure that this applies to working on grass. A lot of things clicked today. Why it took that long, I'm not really sure since I've basically already spelled it out for myself. Her final qualifying rally novice leg in Lodi was done on grass and it was a really lack luster performance. Yes it was a Q and got us first place, but she was just off. And then there was the obedience run which was not like anything that I had seen out of her before and garnered us an NQ. And of course lat week, when I took the dogs out to Noble Woods to work them in an outside and distracting environment, she was just slow to work on the grass. For that day, I thought it was just a combination of still not being quite up to par and being outside. Now, I really think that she just has a hard time working the grass textured surface. I have no idea why, but that's what it seems like.
Anyhow, when I was warming her up, I started on the pavement and that went really well. Then I switched over to the grass and we started having the same issues. Primarily it's that her butt seems to get stuck to the grass. Seriously. She's very slow to respond to recalls on grass if she responds at all. With a dog who otherwise has very consistent recalls, it's just weird that she responds only about 50% of the time on grass. So that's one area where her she has to unglue her butt from the grass. Then there's the finishes. Once she's in front position, it doesn't matter which direction I ask her to finish on, she just kind of stares at me. Mind you, she has great finishes at home in the upstairs hallway. On grass though, her butt gets stuck. When I then took her back to the pavement, the finishes magically reappeared! So at least I know that they're not totally broken, it's just that the grass is REALLY sticky.
I put her back in her crate after that because I was getting a little frustrated. Then Andrea came with Brody and they got their stuff settled. When it was starting to get closer to novice going into the ring, I got Bess out again and we did a little warm up and suddenly she was fine doing recalls and finishes on the grass. Granted I didn't take her onto any cement, but things were just suddenly working. So I got the camera set up on the tripod to record our first run.
Once we got into the ring, things just sort of broke down. Our first run was better than our second run. And while yes it was getting warm, it was at most in the upper 70's. Bess has run agility courses when the temps have been in the 80's and other than panting, hasn't shown any signs of being bothered by the heat. And based on how well Heffner handled the heat yesterday, I really expected that Bess would be totally fine with lower temperatures today. Whatever it was, it just wasn't pretty. She was slow to respond and there was a fair amount of lagging on the heeling. I'm just a lot more used to her being precise and just being so on top of it. After how well Heffner's been doing lately, I just expected her to be doing at least as well. At any rate, it was a less than stellar performance and I was pretty disappointed. I do have video of both of our runs, but I haven't even looked at them yet. I'm still not sure as to whether or not I'll end up posting them. While it's good to have the video to review so that I can pick it apart, I'm just not sure that I'm entirely up to sharing it. We'll see.
So I came home from the match pretty dejected feeling. I was pretty bummed at the lack of team work that I felt with Bess. After a bit of wallowing in my own self pity (sometimes I'm just really pathetic!) and a little bit of a reality check, I'm just going to try and tone things down a little bit and definitely do a LOT more general work on grass. There's a trial in August that I would REALLY like to enter her in, but I'm going to wait just a bit longer to send in my entries.
And as usual, when I'm frustrated with one of the dogs for something, after a bit of feeling frustrated AT them, I then feel horribly guilty about feeling frustrated/disappointed/annoyed. I didn't really feel like doing any more obedience training tonight, so we worked on one of our "stupid dog tricks." :o) It was actually something that I just randomly started doing with Heffner yesterday when we weren't running the course. I want to cue them to "kiss" (WITHOUT tongue) me on the lips. Basically just a nose bop on the lips. I thought it would be cute. And it definitely is. Though it's definitely sloppier than I had planned on. I'm going to keep videoing our sessions and when it's where I want it to be, I'll put the sessions together and post a video.:)
This week, I am seriously going to crack down on our finishes! I need it with both dogs and I need to be a little more determined in working on it.