Day 2 of the fun match here in town. I just got home and I am so EXCITED about my dogs-dog wise it was a fantastic day, more then I could have hoped for!
The day did leave me feeling a little sad on the people front. Since I started doing agility and training up until lately I have always had a few really good friends that I would do things like seminars and fun matches and trials with-they were always up for a good fun match or seminar..always ready to get together to train, we would go to get a soda after class...or go to dinner after trials or seminars or fun matches-it just always was such a neat way of connecting, we were all working on the same things and we all were into training or dogs and had the same goals.. but these days...it is me and my dogs-everyone else has moved :-( . Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my dogs company and there is something to be said for just paying attention to your dogs... but I do miss having like minded people to be able to really share it all with. People who understand when I come out of the ring and am so excited that Lizzie did not run off, or that Cricket did her first multi obstacle sequence, it might not have looked impressive to others but for where we are at...it was a pretty big high...and sharing other peoples little victories was always so much fun too--anyway, it has just been hard the last few months, I miss having those types of friendships. It is nice to know my blogging friends do know how much some of these things mean.
AS far as how the fun match went...when I got there I did not purchase any tickets to run Liz because I am working on making sure she does not practice running away....ever....Plus there was a safety issue since the yard was only partially fenced. Liz could have been out of there and two miles away before I blinked if she had taken off-of course I do not want to take chances with that. I worked with Liz over a few practice jumps that had no fencing at all....things went fine so I did go and sign her up for a run in the standard ring. I had no idea I had to wait for at least ten dogs to go before it was our turn, and they kept letting other people go ahead with some weird excuses.....ughghhghg, I knew I was stretching Lizzie's attention span to the max.... the dog before us did take off-running out of the ring and ended up in a neighboring school yard where the owner could not get to him-talk about reminding me what could happen. She finally got him, thank goodness but it was a pretty scary situation. After watching the dog that had taken off and how the owner barely caught him....I was physically shaking a bit and very nervous when I walked in the ring. I knew I had to control my nerves or I would CAUSE a problem so I really worked hard on some deep breathes and trying to relax myself. I know I was still a little nervous when we walked into the ring.
I got in the ring and took Liz off leash, noticing Liz was a little spacey and looking away from me avoiding eye contact-so I was proud of myself for not being rushed-I stepped a few feet from the start line and did a few short recalls before I left her to go to my lead out position. Lizzie would not hold a stay-I wonder if that was because I had just done so much focus work before we went in the ring and so she was handling her stress by focusing on me???? If you were watching you might have thought it was a very ugly executed run, nothing pretty to look at, but Lizzie did all the obstacles correctly and stayed with me and was listening-I altered the course so she was not running right at the exit and I left the weaves out-I chose instead to not follow the course and go back for a tunnel to the table to end further away from the exit and end with her favorite obstacles. She never came close to running off, I was SOOOOOOOO PROUD OF HER, and actually proud of us as a team!
The really neat part was that I had spent the time before the run doing some shaping, and Liz was able to focus and think enough to actually offer behaviors. I think really making an effort to do shaping sessions in LOTS of places with Liz the last few weeks --which means she has to settle herself down enough to think, and working through some VERY mild frustration (having to figure out what to do next when shaping)--is really paying off.
THE PLAN-I think today was another example showing me that what Lizzie and I are doing is really working. I think now I am going to add in a lot more just building value and excitement for the obstacles, REALLY SHORT sequences so she really transfers a lot of value to doing agility and we will see what happens! The great thing is that what I think Lizzie needs is really pretty close to what I will be doing with Cricket to teach her agility-so that will make life easier.