Sunday, November 20, 2011

Agility Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend we were doing some AKC agility up in Ridgefield, WA. Both danes were only entered in Standard and JWW both days. As you can tell by the above picture, we have a little something to celebrate! It was an overall great weekend, and I'll just start off by saying that Bess qualified in Open JWW both days to finish her Open Jumpers title!! Now for the nitty gritty.;0)
First run of the day on Saturday for both dogs was Open JWW. Thankfully there were enough dogs entered in our height class at that level that swapping the dogs out wasn't overly rushed. I had taken Bess out earlier that morning to run her around off leash. Thankfully this trial site is on a really big chunk of land with several buildings and amphitheaters that weren't in use, so I could find a vacant out of the way grassy area to let The Crazy off leash to hopefully burn off any zoomies she might have had. Sure enough, on our first long distance recall she went tearing all over the place! I ran her around for about 30 min., which also had the lovely side benefit of warming me up.:0) I felt pretty good about the course and where the dogs were at mentally that day and I was looking forward to running. Bess started things off with a really lovely, clean run. I was so happy! Jumpers has been a bit of a curse for us in AKC lately. Part of it has been me not mentally always being there because I have my own hang ups about the class, but I've been working on that and I think I'm starting to get over it. Certainly after this weekend I shouldn't be saying that I don't like it! I put Bess back in her crate and got Heffner out. I had just the right amount of time to warm him up and get him focusing on me before we ran. It's a delicate balance with him. I don't want him out for too long, otherwise he can start getting stressed and the commotion of the agility trial can get him to a point where he starts giving other dogs the hairy eye ball. But I also don't like just ripping him out of his crate and putting him out on the course. So the perfect balance on Sat. and he also had a nice, clean run!! Woo hoo!! Both dogs qualified and Bess was even fast enough to take fourth place.:)
Next up was Excellent Standard with Heffner. Again, another lovely course (actually all the courses this weekend were really nice!). The ONLY spot on the course where we had a blip was towards the end of the weaves. Something caught either Heffner's eye or his nose and he popped out of the weaves and started to head towards the trailer parked on the other side of the fence at that end of the arena. I had seen a few other dogs get distracted by this corner previously, but didn't think it would be an issue for us. We restarted the weaves and he finished them the second time with the rest of the course falling nicely into place. Unfortunately it's excellent, so NQ.
Next up was Bess in Open Standard. She had been in her crate for a few hours and I probably should have taken her out to potty before we ran, but I'm not even entirely sure that was what the problem was. Between the tire and the dog walk, she decided to run straight to the exit gait. I got her back and we did the dog walk. And then she lept over the contact. Bleck. We carried on, and then our weaves went to crap. She kept trying to enter on the second pole. It took us the full three tries in order to get them completely correct. And then came the a-frame. I gave my easy command a bit early and she stopped right at the apex. But I figured I could get her to just slowly come down. And she did. Until she was about to put a toe into the yellow, and she leaped off. Bleck. But the table to the jump to the chute were good! And then she ran around the outside of the final jump. Um, yeah. Not even sure what was going on. I took her outside and she did pee a lot, so maybe that was the problem. We'll just say that was the problem in order to ease my mind. Obviously, NQ in standard.
I think I have decided that I hate tall to small days. While it does usually mean that I get to go home a little bit earlier, somehow I end up being more frazzled. The way things were shaping up, I was headed for some serious conflicts between Heffner in Standard and both dogs in JWW. I hate conflicts. They just frazzle me. Sometimes it's not so bad, but others it just makes me off kilter. Today it did that and I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be running Heffner. Who was also really on edge today, but I'll get to that. Our Standard run was okay. He was slow, but didn't get a warm up. And we knocked a single bar. All together, only knocking the one bar really wasn't that bad considering he wasn't getting a whole lot of help from his handler. So NQ in Standard. And we immediately went from the Standard ring into Open JWW. They had held the class from starting until we were done with our run because Heffner was the second dog in the class.
JWW was very blah for Heffner and I. Again, me not being in the right place mentally for him definitely has a negative impact. Not exactly a revelation there, but definitely something that got driven home for me today. The run lacked umph, and was trotting most of it. We had one dropped bar, but otherwise it wasn't bad. So NQ for Heffner in JWW. I put him out and got ready with Bess. Bess was focusing well and definitely on her toes. Which worried me a little bit because I hadn't had time that morning to take her out and run her like the previous day. But she hung in there. She went and visited a little after one of the jumps, but she came back and had a clean run! Q for Bessy!! And she even took first place in the class!! And finished her Open JWW title!! Woo hoo!!
After more waiting, Bessy was up in Open Standard. I made sure to take her out and potty her, so she was empty going onto the course. We knocked a bar on one of the jumps and I can't remember why. Then we had our nemesis the a-frame. She was better today, but still missed the contact. I really thought she was going to hit it. But right now it seems to cause her physical pain to touch the yellow zone of it. We'll see if we can work on that. Though I have to say that she has been really great in practice about touching it. Maybe it's just that the trial a-frame has horrible acid smeared on it and I haven't been able to tell. I be that's what it is!!

Overall, it was a pretty weekend. We had fun hanging out even though it was pretty cold. The chance of snow thankfully didn't happen during the trial, which made me happy while I was driving. But poor Heffner seems to have tweaked something today. He's favoring his front right leg. He also managed to split a back toe nail pretty badly at some point and I'm sure that doesn't feel too good either. And like I mentioned, he's been more on edge this weekend and he had some reactive outbursts on both days. This definitely stresses me out. We've got the next month off from all trials and I'm going to use that time to work on some desensitization. It's helped in the past and hopefully it will help again. I'm also going to work on it at the next trial we're going to in January. If I feel like things are still bad at that point or we're not seeing much progress, Heffner will be taking some time off trialing until it's better under control. I just can't handle having a 150 lb. dog taking offense to everything and making it known. Plus, if he's too a point where he just can't cope with the trial setting any more, then that's a clear sign to me that he is done and I need to remove him from the setting that is causing him so much stress. If we weren't jiving in the ring like we have been, this decision would be a lot easier. Fingers crossed that we make some progress over the next month!

I hope everyone has had a great weekend and here's looking forward to Thanksgiving!!!

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