As I'm reading through others' blogs, I have realized that it really is that time of year to reassess the goals you set for the current year and make goals for the upcoming one. I've loved reading over every one's posts on these topics and now it's time for my own.:)
I started by looking back on my post from last year. I have to admit that part of it gave me a chuckle! I also realized that Heffner was in the beginning phase of recovering from his iliopsoas strain. I'm glad that's over with! In a nut shell, we're sitting in a better position going into 2011 than we were last year. That boosts my spirits! Here's my reassessment of this past year, broken down by dog:
*Had an iliopsoas muscle strain that required a very slow and quiet recovery period that made forming goals for him difficult because I didn't know for sure how long it was going to take for him to be fully recovered enough that I could start getting him back into shape, let along trialing. We were also dealing with a fair bit of stress related behaviors in agility at trials that made my hopes for him in agility for the year fairly low. He also wasn't as enthusiastic about obedience, which helped lead me to my conclusion that I didn't want to trial him in traditional obedience. That combined with his dislike for most intact males. He also developed an allergy to chicken over the summer which saw him in the vets getting subcutaneous fluids and meds to get him over the bout of diarrhea that he had as a result. After much playing around with food, we figured out that it was chicken that he was allergic to and thankfully not irritable bowel disease.
*Agility - After nine months off from trialing in agility, his first trial back was still disappointing. He was still pretty stressed in the ring, though I did see a small inkling of it getting better. After a summer off, he seemed to get his stress levels better under control and I think I was also dealing with them a lot better. He did a total 180 and was putting in runs that actually almost brought me to tears. He surpassed any goals that I could have had for him and finished all of his AKC novice titles and even moved up into Excellent A in Standard. In CPE he finished off his Level 1 title and made a significant dent into his Level 2 title, while also moving into Level 3 in a couple of classes. Overall, a much changed dog, and we now have fun in the competition ring and not just practicing!
*Rally - Again, due in part to his injury, I didn't know what goals to set for him in rally. We lost a few months worth of practicing when we were just getting started. Thankfully since rally isn't as hard on the body as agility is, he was able to come back to that first. He got his RN and one leg towards his RA title. At the trial in Oct. he showed a significant amount of stress in the ring, which has made me reassess what my goals for him in rally are.
*Obedience - I actually had him entered in the Northern California specialty because he was coming along so nicely in our lessons (that was another change from 2009, we started taking obedience lessons from a separate instructor from our agility instructor and have benefited greatly from it). The distractions and environment proved to be too much for him at that time and while I showed him in rally (where he peed on a station sign and we got DQed), I pulled him from obedience. However, I've seen a glimmer of hope there and I plan on pursuing it.
*Conformation - Okay, this is where I chuckled. My goal for this year was to get Bess finished. Um yeah, that one failed miserably. We didn't pick up a single point this year. We did end up taking a few months off though due to her pneumonia and then her chest laceration. Regardless, we are still sitting at the 8 points with one major that we were at the end of last year.
*Agility - Bess had some focus issues last year while trialing. I knew that we had some work ahead of us and I set my expectations low for her. Little did I know that we were going to miss out on an entire summer of trialing due to her illness and injury. That set us back just a smidge and we didn't entirely reach our goal of being in Open in AKC agility. She still needs one more Novice Standard leg and one more Novice FAST leg. But overall, she has also made improvements in her trialing. With regards to CPE, she did finish her Level 1 title.
*Rally - Since we were just getting started, I didn't really now where to set my goals other than to just start trialing her. She did very well for herself and we are now working on the RAE title with two legs under her belt.
*Obedience - Private lessons have helped immensely! I also entered her in the Northern California specialty with unsure expectations of what I was going to get. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong, but she seemed to get very stressed in the ring, which resulted in me doing part of our off leash heeling without a dog at all. It was a very awakening experience. That was the only time we trialed in obedience because we had so much that I wanted to work on and much that I wanted to become a good habit.
*Skijoring - Racing was a disappointment because our snow levels sucked this past winter. BOTH of our races got cancelled and Bess didn't get to make her skijoring debut. I also mentioned in our goals that I was hoping to move her up to advanced skijoring depending on how she did at her first race. What I forgot about was that advanced skijoring requires two dogs. That would mean enlisting Heffner. While he'd be doable for two miles, I already know that he wouldn't be pleased doing six miles.
Here are my goals for 2011, broken down by dog:
*Agility - It's always hard to say what the year will hold, but I would like for him to be competing at the Excellent level in AKC agility in all classes by the end of the year. As long as we're able to trial as much as I'm planning to, I am also setting the goal of him moving into Excellent B in Standard as well as JWW by the end of the year. FAST I don't really care that much about and will be used occasionally as a warm up class. For CPE, I'm pretty sure that we'll only be able to hit a few trials this year, so I will keep my expectations low. I just want him to finish his Level 2 title in its entirety. Overall, I want him to stay sound and I want to keep running the enjoyable boy that I've been running!
*Rally - I'm taking a step back with him in Rally. I need to get his stress level under control and that's going to take some tweaking and toying with. It will also mean trialing him selectively at locations that are lower stress. My goal for him this year is just to get those two remaining Advanced legs and get his RA title.
*Obedience - As long as he can hold his sit stay without sliding into a down and DQing us, I think we can actually pull off a qualifying score this year. I will still be watching stress levels, though he seems less stressed with obedience than he does with rally, which I find interesting. Our goal for the year is to get one qualifying leg towards his CD. I will also be very selectively trialing him, so one leg is a reasonable goal.
*Tracking - We're actually going to have time to do it this year! I'm going to be stopping the weekly agility classes in favor of periodical privates (it also makes things easier with my work schedule, since I usually have to leave a half hour early on those days). Now that we're renting barn time, I can actually practice on full equipment on my own. Anyhow, this frees up one evening a week, which will now be our tracking night. That along with weekend tracks should be good for us. My goal for both dogs is to get them certified for the TD level by the end of the year and to pick out our first tracking test date to apply for.
*Agility - Since we do have the whole year ahead of us and I'm not taking nine months off of agility again, my goals for Bess are higher. I want her to be competing at the Excellent level in AKC agility by the end of the year. I would also like to see her in Excellent B in both Standard and JWW. For CPE, just finishing her Level 2 title.
*Rally - She only needs 8 more legs towards her RAE and I know that we'll get them this year. My goal is for her to finish the RAE by summer. I think I'll continue to trial her in rally after that, but sparsely.
*Obedience - My goals are much loftier for Bessy in obedience this year. We're going to actually trial! I want to get her AKC CD by the end of the year and I'm also planning on trying out UKC obedience during the summer. With that in mind, I would also like to see her with a UKC CD by the end of the year.
*Conformation - Hmmmmm.....it's hard to set goals for conformation when the results are completely out of my control. She will show in AKC conformation as long as it doesn't interfere with agility and ONLY if we are also competing in performance events. I'm not going to have an entirely wasted weekend any more. I'm also being more selective about the judges that we show to. If they've dumped us once, we're not showing to them again. I don't need to keep wasting my money on a conclusion that I am 99% sure of. I think this year will be the telling year as to whether or not Bess continues in AKC conformation. I would like to try her out in UKC conformation.
*Skijoring - We should actually have races this year! Her first race is next weekend! I'll be keeping her in the recreational skijoring division indefinitely.
*Tracking - See the part in Heffner's goals above.
*I had made the goal of one scrapbooking day a month last year and that went by the way side pretty quickly. I'm planning on picking that back up, but with a better plan in place. Part of my problem with the scrapbooking is finding the time to do it with everything else. We're going to reorganize our spare bedroom and pick up some card tables so that I can have everything set up so that all I have to do is sit down and I can pick up wherever I left off! Such a genius idea! And it was actually Adam's idea!
*Photography - I've got some photography books that I need to do some reading up on and I plan on toying around more with my camera. I haven't decided if I'm going to go back to doing the 52 weeks for dogs or not yet. I fell off the wagon about half way through the year there. My dog of choice this year would be Bess and she's a lot harder to photograph. So it would be a challenge, but I'm not entirely sure that I want to add one more little thing to my plate. We'll see! But I do want to continue to learn more about photography and possibly get a better camera.
And I think that wraps things up for us here! I hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve!