Monday, October 24, 2011

Excuses, Universal Issues and HEAT

It is hot, VERY hot, PAINFULLY hot.  I don't like heat and I am certainly NOT a summer person.  Yes, I know this makes me even more odd.  I don't like feeling like a radiator in a furnace, it just doesn't do it for me. Chaos and Delta also does not like heat either.  They are sensible dogs, no wait, I am lying, we all know Delta is not sensible, Delta is JUST mad, but at least he shares my aversion to heat.  At 07h00 this morning it was already to hot to train, so I had to fool the dogs into thinking they have trained.  So I took them out individually, made them each do one jump, three the ball three times.  It worked on the others, but Chaos is more intelligent than that.  He KNEW he hadn't been trained and has been staring at me accusingly since this morning.  I don't like summer, the ONLY aspect I like is the spectacular thunderstorms we get here in South Africa.  There Chaos and Delta don't agree with me, they definitely don't like thunderstorms, so summer is a real no-no for them.  Volt couldn't care less about thunderstorms.  Quake, I don't know any more...

Sigh, when I get a puppy, to avoid all future problems, I crate them during their first thunderstorms.  This crating goes along with huge rewards, and yummy chews (well the dogs think they are yummy, I think they are vile) and lots of praise for chilling.  So when the first thunder can be heard in the distance, my dogs get in their crates (on their own) and I just close the doors, they then go to sleep.  Perfect solution right?  Well it used to be.  Last week, I had to go out in the evening, I could see a storm (a very puny one by our standards) in the distance, so I left the dogs napping in their crates.  By the time the hubby got home an hour later, Quake had ripped up a very sturdy crate and his face.  He gave me a heart attack, luckily there is no lasting damage (no broken teeth or injured eyes), but there will be scars on his pretty face :(  AND I feel terrible AND stressed about what to do with him next time.  There will be a next time.  It is inevitable that our dogs have to stay home alone at some stage and statistically he will have to get through another storm.  Then a few evenings later, there was a MUCH MUCH worse storm, I was home, so I decided to test it.  I crated him, set up the video camera and left the room.  And he went to SLEEP, through the entire storm.  So maybe it was a one time thing, maybe a spider or a bee bugged him in the crate.  Who KNOWS?

It is still hot, VERY hot, but let me get on with the rest of the post.  I made some progress with Chaos last year, well if you can call 'sometimes kind of getting a clear round' progress.  I started off on exactly that note this year.  The I changed some things and that changed my agility.  For the first time, I go to the start line with confidence, knowing that I can BE the competition.  His clear round rate improve by a whopping 63 %, his knock rate was reduced to 19% and still dropping (from about 39%) and he started placing consistently.  The first change involved a lot of analysis and making agility 'my own', this subject alone is enough to write an entire book about (and I might just do that).  The second was dedicated and PLANNED training.  The third might be the smallest, but let me tell you what a difference it made.  I promised myself that there would be no more excuses.  AT ALL.

See actually there are sometimes valid excuses in agility, but where do you draw the line?  If you make one excuse and believe it, it is bound to give you such a sense of comfort, that next time around, you might go a little bit out of your way to look for an excuse.  Before you know it, you will be searching under every rock in every tree for an excuse of why you failed.  And that is detrimental to your agility career.  So while I realise dogs are just human, they knock or miss a weave entry or get distracted, sometimes the surface we jump on is slippery, weather affects dogs, however I would have no more of that.  If it was not dangerous for my dog, then there was no excuse  If Chaos knocked, it was because I did not train something in particular, it was not because of the pigeon that pooped on the course or a dog outside barking like a lunatic.  If I dq'd, it was not because the scorer wore a pink shirt or the course was too difficult.  You get the idea right? I took full responsibility for every fault on every course, even when it might not have been my fault.  I went back and TRAINED to try and ensure that mistake never happened again.  Of course there are still 'those moments'  like Chaos just being WEIRD and MAD on AM's non-contact course a few weeks ago, but I accepted those as well.  It has made a difference to my state of mind, if nothing else.

Now this is where it ties in with universal problems.  Week in and week out, there are complaints about course design and judging.  And according to the forums/blogs/media I follow, this problem occurs world wide.  Perhaps if we all stopped complaining about this, we would achieve greater success?  Now there are a TON of these universal problems that I could discuss, but there is just one more I want to mention in this post.

The other universal problem, seems to be the matter of qualifying/winning.  There are two points of view to consider here.  There will always be dogs that are consistent and good in their own right, but not the fastest, dogs that go out there every week and do their thing (and very well too), but are not capable of winning the world champs or even national champs.  These dogs and handlers deserve some form of recognition, that is for sure.  But then you have the other dogs, those that have the capability to be the best, to go out their and not only do their thing, but WIN.  These dogs also want recognition and generally they feel that the recognition they receive should not be obtainable by ALL dogs.  Now some countries have a good solution, but around here, these two groups are fighting for recognition of the SAME title.  I am hoping that our sport will find ways to recognise BOTH of these groups, rather than make one of the groups compromise.

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