Monday, November 14, 2011

Respect, Finding the Problem and Catch-Up

*all agility photos courtesy of Melissa Wilson (

First of all let me update you on the whole disgusting eye situation... on Friday last week, the went ahead and cut the Meibomian Cyst ( out of my eye. I will spare you the absolute disgusting details of how it is done, but all in all minor 'surgery' (if you can even call it that).  I managed to get through it with only a minor emotional break-down, outside in the parking lot, because I refused to let the doctor, who had the bedside manner of a warthog on PCP, see me freak out.  At this point I phoned the hubby and I am pretty sure he seriously considered the padded room, but I managed to drive myself home in one piece (with one eye) and I was on the road to recovery.  Just to disgust you a little bit, this is what my eye looked like on Friday.

Now for a little story and a little gossip.  Every day we have 'agility politics' in this country, it seems a bit stupid since the sport is already so small, but the wars rage.  Now last year at the AWC, I met P.  P is from Zimbabwe and as you all know, the country has gone through so much in the last few years.  P was starting up Agility in Zim and he wanted some advice/input/help from us as his neighbours.  Me being a complete agility nerd AND always keen on growing agility everywhere (I believe Agility is the answer to World Peace), my and P started communicating every now and again wrt agility.  To  make a long story short, I have received a TON of positive emails from P in the last while and it seems the sport is growing in our neighbour country.  Woohoo, soon we will ALSO be able to do 'across the border' agility competitions.  I LIKE it.  I have to say I have great respect that their group is persevering and getting the sport going, here we are, we have so many advantages in our agility world and we fight, while they are fighting the RIGHT fight to grow the sport.  Haha, it is a bonus that I know my blog is getting read there.

Problem solving in agility is no small task.  First of all, let me say that I completely support the concept of having a 'handling system', but I feel that each handler and dog combination has to find their own, using all available information as well as their strengths and weaknesses.  I personally advise my students to WRITE IT DOWN and I have a template for it.  After all, agility handling consist of:

1.  Body positioning/body cues - These include your hands, feet, back (how low you go to the ground with each move), neck and head, shoulders, arms... you get the idea.
2.  Verbal cues
3.  Course position
4.  Timing

While all of these will be included as part of your handling system, the TRICK in agility is to realise that there are variables due to course design.  So in other words, YES there are rules (your handling system), but you have to apply these rules within variable systems (different courses).  It is hard to say 'I have a problem', it is even harder to say 'THIS is my problem', but this hardest part is analysing all the variables and coming up with a solution.

You guessed it, I am back to pointing out that so many handlers repeat problems or struggle to solve it.  Whether you are problem solving as a coach/trainer/training partner or handler, you have to learn to analyse agility first... that part others can help you with, but they can't solve your problem FOR you.  So feel free to ask, but accept responsibility (which includes LEARNING analysis) to solve  your own problems.  Also a good time to mention to watch out for my new project on analysing problems in Agility!

Anyhow, so I still don't have my laptop back, so NO video editing software, boohoo... so I decided to post some raw training clips of the boys.  I 'stole' the idea for this exercise from another blogger (my humble apologies, but it was such a good idea I couldn't resist).  I have different aims and therefor different analysis with all three dogs, but enjoy!

Volt is just over 14 months old now and next year he will start competing... REALLY? Already?  Hard to believe, where the hell did the time go?  He is looking good on 12 poles, I will try to catch some video of that tomorrow.  So time to resume contact training.  I LOVE contact training, to me that is possibly the most satisfying part of agility training, lucky for me, my dogs feel the same, what a bonus.

I know I have been a slight spot lazy with the blogging thing, but my dogs have had some time off and I am starting my pre-AWC trial program now, so there will be WAY too much blogging in the next few months.  Watch this space.

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