Sunday, November 7, 2010

Puppyhood and four years later

Well, yesterday's show was not a complete disaster, at least not from Chaos's side...  I am very irritated with myself.  I was completely unaware yesterday, in the contact round I didn't handle the course until the very end and ended up getting the dreaded 'last jump refusal'.  In the non-contact I just hung around flatfooted and got my dog eliminated.  Jumping wasn't so bad, with a double clear.

I will post the videos later today, but at the moment I am busy analysing what happened yesterday.  The fact that it is the end of the year and I am not only tired, but also hectically busy with year end work arrangements, is no excuse.  I need to find that perfect mental state for the 10 minutes I need to warm-up, prepare for and run each course.  That is not too much to ask from myself and yesterday I just could not cope.

Although that is my biggest concern, it is definitely not my only concern.  Chaos's average speed is about 4.70m/s on a course at a show, the fastest speed he has recorded on a Grade 3 Contact course is 5.30m/s (which I am very happy with), but my point is that he is not going all out.  I am sure it will have something to do with my training... doesn't it always?  If you see Chaos run free at my house or when I take them for a walk, you would be amazed.  He looks spectacular, covers the ground beautifully and smoothly and in general is elegantly athletic.  And he is damn fast...  He will beat most border collies on a flat race... haha of course if he doesnt have to run on dry loose gras which is his Achilles heel. He does not do the same on the course, although he is going at a decent speed, I know there is so much more to unlock.

To explain my current train of thought I will compare two of my own dogs.  Echo, although from a conformation breeder, had 'the perfect puppyhood' if I can call it that, his breeder socialised all the puppies, drove them around, introduced them to different sounds and situations, people and creatures.  She had them temperament tested before she homed each puppy.  He came to me with absolutely no issues.  He is not sound sensitive or skitty and he is a pleasure to travel with, fly and just to take anywhere.  You could see that when Echo was running an agility course, for those days (I am talking almost 10 years ago) he was spectacular and wasn't scared to throw his whole heart into whatever he did.  Tricks, obedience, dancing, tracking, playing, you name it and Echo did it without any hassle.

Chaos has a different background.  His breeder is an elderly lady, that lives with her sister on a farm in the middle of nowhere.  Her pups get born in the puppy pen and this is where they spend the rest of their puppyhood until they go off to their new homes.  The only things they ever see are the two old ladies, some sheep and their mother.  The results was a very over-sensitive puppy that was so insecure for the first year of his life that I did not think he would ever do agility.  Despite this he is the amazing boy that you know today.  What I am wondering is what his brilliant work ethic would have developed into if he had a more balanced puppyhood.  Would it have made a difference at all?  It is so hard to compare different dogs, that it is hard to answer this question.  And since I am not a breeder, I cannot say what difference it would make.  I do know that I will in the future do my best only to acquire puppies from socialised and balanced litters.  I love my boy, but it is hard work (and sometimes heartbreaking) to have to work through issues.

For this week I think I will put up nice, spread-out speed circles and see if I can speed my boy up some more and instill a bit of confidence.  Whatever the case, I am sure he will enjoy it very much!

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