I am mightily trying to revamp my agility goals. The biggest question that pops into my mind is how agility fits into my life mission. Agility is important to me, but it can’t be as important as the bigger things in life: people, relationships, connections, teaching, learning, sharing, and compassion. The problem is that when I start thinking about how to fit agility competitions into the bigger life mission thing and it’s like smashing a square peg into a round hole.
The scenario that keeps coming back to me is Grand Prix semi-finals at Cynosports last year. I had the run of my life with my little dog and knocked the last bar; it doesn’t change the connection that my dog and I had on the course, the subconscious movements, the lines, the teamwork or the energy that was expended. But the bar does mean that no placement happened on paper. I want to feel proud about that run, but since there wasn’t a placement there is some incongruity to the whole predicament. If I just want to feel connection and teamwork I can do that on the training field. So why compete? The mental torture playing that run over and over again in my mind was certainly a bad way to spend my time. Yet, in reality that run was fucking awesome; best run ever! And if you can feel that it was the best run ever even with the bar, what is the point of going up against others? Why go to competitions if failure is acceptable? At an agility trial am I trying to prove something? Satisfy my ego? Fill my time? Competing at agility shows don’t meet my life mission to help people and have compassion for myself and others. It costs a lot of money and takes a large expenditure of time and energy. I am exploring these ideas. Is there a way to go to competitions and enjoy my time there? Reward myself for the awesome but not quite perfect runs? Can I fit my life mission into trialing by whittling the corners down on the square peg?
The absolute best thing about all of this is that my dog doesn’t care one iota about what I decide. He is happy just to do stuff with me, he could care less what it is. I am so thankful to have a training partner that brings 110% to everything we do together. I want to honor that commitment. I want to satisfy my goals without stepping on my bigger ideals. I want to have my cake and eat it too.
AWC USA Team 2013
Making a goal, sticking to it and then accomplishing it feels good! Besides my goal of going to tryouts and having a clean run I also made the goal to not beat myself up no matter what happened. I am so proud that Ho and I had 2 clean runs! Really, we had 3 clean runs but 1 run had a popped weave that I didn’t fix, and the run that we had an off course was totally my fault, not a big surprise 🙂 LOL. I approached the line EVERY TIME with a huge smile on my face, holding and kissing my wonderful dog. I ran EVERY run with commitment to my chosen handling options and stayed focused until the end. I left EVERY run holding my and kissing my wonderful dog with a smile on my face. I felt good about EVERY run! Even the two runs that we E’d on! Those courses were HARD. But I was prepared!! And I made great handling choices! In the back of my mind “WWBD?”, “What would Bo do?”.
At times I was stressed, and un-decided, and I felt discouraged but I managed to re-focus EVERY time and that is what counts! The mental game is hard, it takes time and energy and calories and brain power to do it. It is hard but I feel so good after doing it! Like I accomplished something big! Those of you who knew me back when I ran Pickle might have seen the meltdowns and the crying, it felt bad and I made a decision to not do that anymore. And I went to a top level competition and kept my mental crap together! Yeah!
I really want to thank everyone who helped me reach my goal! Eric for so many discussions and support, Bo for putting up with my shit and being a great trainer and coach, Cheryl for helping support the journey, Debbie for setting up hard courses and helping me run them, my parents for inspiring me to be me and supporting me along the way, Julie and Daneen for giving me Ho, my brother for all our woot and mounding talks, GPOL for putting up with my PEPSING and everything else, all my Thursday night peeps who put up with running those crazy courses, all my students who inspire me to be the best agility instructor I can be, Ho for being the best Ho in the world, and myself for working really hard at something!
A woman who meant well offered me cardboard to “keep me warm” the last night I was camping at the agility trial. I was dirty and dressed in my awesome striped PJ’s pants and mismatched top. I thanked her gratefully and suggested she leave it by the dumpster for the next person who might need it. I also learned that Grasshopper Cookies ($2 at walmart) taste as good as or better than Girl Scout Thin Mints ($4 from your local girl scout). I know this sounds too good to be true but we did a genuine taste test around the campfire. It might have been the beers, but I swear the Grasshoppers won out. And you can buy them year round!!! Woot!
To top the weekend off I scored an AMAZING bottle of wine from some good friends, got to run a really cool dog (sorry about the ankle) and watched a cool MACH Run! More WOOT!
Check out these two courses by Dan Butcher from this weekend. Some neat challenges that kept people on their feet and caught a few of us off guard! My best advice to the worry warts: #wootyurlife It’s the only option when the doubt flies in, just kick it out with some heartfelt woot and even if you don’t Q you can still feel AWESOME!!! LOL!
Can’t wait for next weekend; I’m running for margaritas!!!!
We tried an interesting course last night by Harald Schjelderup, an international judge from NORWAY. This course is from last year at Drobak. Thanx to all of you who came out!
This is a photo with some ideas and then a summary follows.
There are a few options for handling starting with the beginning #4 – #7. Either do a serpentine, where you really have to work the send to #5 OR try 3 front crosses which means you really have to hustle your butt!
It helps the dog to know they are going to the weaves if you send and start to move away from the tunnel as they enter. Saw a lot of wide turns there. Staying with the dog on the left out of the tunnel and rear crossing the weaves might tighten the turn up even more. You can assess how well you showed the dog they were going to the weaves by how wide the turn out of the tunnel was. The wider the turn, the less info your dog had about where to go next.
A lot of dogs missed #10 due to the handlers setting a bad line out of the weaves and/or not handling #10 (don’t take it for granted).
Set up the turn at #12 so that the dog knows they are taking the correct tunnel entry (almost handle as if you were going to the chute). I tried 3 options here, handling to the #13 tunnel, handling to the off course tunnel and handling to the chute. It helped clarify how to show the dog where they are going next.
As the dog enters the chute they really need to know they are not in extension and that they should turn and look for you to get #15. Again I tried handling the off course option to the tunnel so that my dog could recognize when I was running vs decelerating at the chute entrance.
Blogility 1st entry since ffluffy.com went offline a few years ago
Plans/Goals/Objectives. Gotta have them. They are scary to make, sometimes even scarier to follow through with. Something that helps me is writing them down, and sharing them with other people, and making a calendar that includes the goals and how to reach the goal in a timely fashion. Back in my bike racing days we called this type of planning “peaking”, where you plan out a few big races, and train for them. We spent hours riding slow miles, building a “base” before we did sprints and faster training. I hated it. BUT I learned that going slow can lead to going fast. In agility this would equate to training small pieces and working on the processes and dog training that leads to the whole. I have to constantly remind myself that the parts are as important as the whole! Luckily I have found that I do enjoy working on tricks and other behaviors that help me and my dogs build a better relationship. I enjoy finding a small handling sequence with a certain focus and trying it many different ways. Here is an example of a small handling sequence (thanx to LeapsNBounds) that you can try many different ways.
I am working on turns with Ho. He needs as much information about where we are going next as possible and then we still might have a big turn…LOL. I ❤ you Ho! For making me an honest handler! And for being cute as hell, and loving me no matter what.