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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cattle Dogs!

This past weekend, I took the pack up to go herding again. TeeVee showed considerable more promise than he did during his instinct test. No eye, but he wasn't as afraid of the stock. I'm still not sure how much of him is herding and how much is just chasing...but he was more focused and interested in whatever he was doing.  He also had some nice downs and except for at the very end, I was able to call him off the stock.

Which brings me to Miss Clementine. As I've mentioned before, her drive on stock is unbelievable. This drive also brings out her full cattle-dogness. Bark. Bark. Bark. Chomp. Chomp. On Saturday, she refused to listen to me or our trainer. She broke every stay and pretty much just ran around grabbing hind legs whenever she could.

She's also been breaking her stays in agility class.. at trials, she's ok (so far), but since she is now comfortable in class, she thinks its FUN to not listen to me half the time. Don't believe a dog can give you the finger?  Yeah.. you need to spend more time with cattle dogs. She's also been just running around in class taking whatever obstacles she wants. Now, sometimes my cues might be off..  that is the obvious answer. But when my dog just decides to run off course and climb on equipment piled in the corner?  C'mon now!

I've decided to reinstate NILIF in my household in an effort to combat these problems.  Every time the dogs go outside, I make them wait while I open the door all the way, before giving the release word. Then they tear off to go chase squirrels (HANKS!). I'm upping the ante on this a bit. Instead of just opening the door.. I'm walking past them, halfway between the Hanks and the dogs before giving the release word.

We're also going to work a lot on our 2o2o contacts. It's time to make this more of a challenge so I can get to the point of running past Clem without her stepping off the contact. Hopefully, this will pay off when it comes to the stock as well.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Second Trial

About ten months ago, Clementine and I had our first agility trial. I wouldn't say it was a complete disaster...we had some nice moments, but no Qs. It definitely made me realize some of the things we would need to work on to be competitive. Our biggest issues were time and distance. Since I have a disability, and Clementine has always been a "velcro dog" - I knew this was going to be a challenge. I was truly afraid we would never be fast enough to be able to compete in NADAC. Now, every single one of my agility teachers has said that NADAC would be one of the hardest venues for us to compete in, because the courses are so spread out. Yet, I really like NADAC, because everyone is just so dang friendly and supportive. To be fair, NADAC is the only venue we have competed in at this point - but I have heard many agility folks voicing the same opinion.

So a few weeks ago, Clem and I had our second trial. We took 10 months to work on distance and building up her confidence..and also to finally get the hang of weaving. It paid off. We ended up getting 2 Qs for the weekend. Our first Q was in Novice Jumpers:

Even though in class Clementine often gets too excited to maintain her start line stays, she nailed every single one of them at the trial. It took a few rounds for her to find her confidence..but while having a bit of "ring nerves" kept her slower, she was also more focused on me. Our second Q was in Regular, which I was not expecting at all considering she has only been weaving for all of a week before the trial. I wish I had a video of that run!

So I walk away from this trial, knowing we CAN do this! I have an incredible dog who wants to please and most importantly - loves doing this. I know that we need to work on discriminations (between contacts and tunnels specifically) and me being able to call her off of obstacles ahead of her. I never in a million years thought that her having too much distance would ever be a problem. It is now!