Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Away Weekend...

So on my return from a weekend of HOT weather, the beach, fun, drama and lots of Agility, I guess I should contemplate things a little bit... I will start off with my awesome dogs, travelling with them is always a pleasure and I appreciate every moment I get to spend with them.

Volt never used to have environment issues, as a youngster (okay he is STILL a youngster, but I mean a YOUNG youngster), he travelled a lot, both in the car and on flights, before and after the start of his Agility career and never showed any signs of stress. However last year, in Port Elizabeth, things changed, even though I still don't know why.  Twice we travelled there last year and twice he was stressed, unwilling to run, slow, distracted and all those other qualities that breaks my heart. With changing handling plans, running some rounds with a toy and the help of fantastic friends with regards to rewarding and de-stressing, I feel we made progress as the weekend went along, although not nearly running to his full potential, we definitely got somewhere.  I am determined to work all the way through the Bean-en-Stein's environment issue and insure he is a Happy Sheltie Dog under ALL circumstances.  Regardless of his issues, the little dude DOES know how to be consistent, raking in a total of 10 Qualifying Certificates and over-all Small wins for all his categories. Honestly I think his results mostly reflect the lack of Small competition in South Africa though.  Regardless I had a ball with Beans in Port Elizabeth, he loved the beach, had some tugging games of note with certain Border Collies and made sure he made his V for Volt mark ;)

This was Psycho Malycho Slinky Malinky Chicken Licken dog's first 'show weekend'.  On top of this, Psycho has been a very different challenge since day 1.  While being the dog I have bonded with the most easily and while crawling so deep into my heart, she is a very difficult Agility dog, but I can definitely see why she was the herding pick of the litter.  While everyone has their mouthful about how she runs, what I should be doing, what I did wrong and why I will never get it right, the handful of people that have actually been involved in her training, understand the long journey this has been and how long it will still be.  I think she has a bright future though and I enjoy almost every second of the challenge.  What was even better than the Agility is the manner in which the Malycho handled the travel, playing with everything human and canine when she had the chance and sleeping when I wanted her too, playing games, herding on the beach (even with waves crashing over her head) and being generally good!  She even pulled of a stunning winning clear round with a qualification (which was unfortunately not caught on video).

But the most jaw-dropping performance of the weekend came from the Spaz.  At almost 8 years old, Chaos keeps surprising me, while my handling was off on a couple of rounds, I forgot two courses and I made a couple of bad choices, Chaos managed to pull off 13/19 clear rounds, knocking only 3 bars in all those rounds.  He won 3 x Agility, 2 x Non Contact and 1 x Dog Jumping QC's and maybe could have added to that if his handler didn't turn into a ditz on occasion.  What made me the happiest is that he came off the weekend perfectly sound with not even a hint of stiffness!  It will never stop amazing me how much heart this dog has and how he somehow just manages to find a little bit more to give me every single day of his life!

A few things caught my attention this weekend...

The lack of rewarding dogs.  Rather sad to see how many dogs give it their all and storm out the ring into nothingness for nothingness.  Well done to those that did!

The commitment and success of handlers against all odds.  Those handlers that have no support system or mentors close by.  Starting schools from the bottom up. Training on their own.

Running for 'clears' and not for running.  The screaming, over-managing, lack of handling, nerves, stress, unhappiness and blame is not always fun to witness.  Wish more people could find the enjoyment of running for yourself and your dog.

The willingness to ask for advice from random 'strangers'. Handlers that recognised their shortcomings and recognised the strength of others and tried to bridge the gap.

The lack of contacts. Well not so much as the bitching and moaning OVER the lack of contacts while in the same breath failing to be consistent in actually training and running the contacts.

The willingness to share advice.  The handlers that were willing to share the information on their strengths and promote other handlers fixing their own problems.

The lack of knowledge in the rules. From both judges and competitors.  Worse than that?  When politely pointed out or rudely confronted (yes both happened), instead of admitting and correcting, getting hackles up and trying to defend the lack of logic or blatant ignorance.  Would love it if the whole country could attempt in a friendly manner to get on the same page, recognise short-comings and understand difficulties. Incompetence is a reason, not an excuse.

As you may notice, there was good and bad to the weekend, but I had a thoroughly good time!  So did my dogs!  So did my travel companions! I might share some more thoughts on Psycho and rules and training and rewarding soon... but for now I will just enjoy the afterglow of a fun weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Have you had Pyscho's hips etc checked?