A few weeks ago was Chip’s two year anniversary trial. I have been working on a little video montage of his two years of competition. (Actually I had the video done like a week ago, my computer just didn’t want to publish it until tonight…grrr!)
Really, really cool to look back where he was two years ago….or one year ago. I found old videos tapes of Derby’s first shows too. I was able to upload them and make a video of Derby’s first two years also!
Derby’s videos were interesting because I was so young and inexperienced too. Derby was just a year and a half and I was 18. I didn’t always have the best handling ideas. I yelled “here”, “come” and “Derby” way too much. I wore jeans and hot pink pants. I had a death grip on his collar on the start line. He growled at the judge while coming down the contacts. He couldn’t stay in the weaves sometimes. He looked at bar setters and visited the judge. After some better instruction and growing up a bit, we started maturing as a team.
But! The one thing that really stood out to me, was how well I maintained contact criteria. He stopped, I said “good boy! OK”. The one time he did pop off early, a little moment was made of it. I did this for years, and Derby had great stopped contacts for years! Drove fast into a two on two off position and waiting for release. Right now I’m going back through videos, trying to trace to the moment we lost that. There were random times he didn’t stop, and I just continued on to the next obstacle with him. Then that started happening more and more. Until today, when I get no resemblance of that stopping behavior in the ring. I’m lucky I can usually get ahead of him…put pressure back towards him until he hits the yellow and we go. But it’s not as fast as his 2o2o is in practice and not nearly as independent. So as a dog trainer, with an 8 year old dog, I’ve made the decision not to care. I could fix it if I really wanted to try hard, I actually did a year or so ago. So I also have to accept he might get a contact called every now and then…and be okay with that. If I want him to do his job, I have to do mine. Simple as that.
Then there is little Chipmunk. I certainly felt like I knew what I was doing when we started competing. I knew he was nervous at the first few shows. But instead of grabbing him tightly, we played on the startline…hand touches, spins, push aways. He wasn’t the quickest in the beginning. He always wanted to go get his leash, I can’t tell you how many times he left in the middle of a run to go look for it. But then he started to realize agility was fun. He started barking and jumping all over when I would take his leash off at the line (and he quit looking for it!!). He started going faster. Too fast sometimes to do every jump. That got to be the most frustrating thing about running him. He would just zip by jump, sometimes weaves, but mostly jumps. But I think he’s pretty much worked through that. There have been some courses where I’ve seen him work really, really hard to get over a jump it would have been easier to run around. Now as he is getting faster, it’s a challenge for me to keep up with him and give timely cues.
One reason I really wanted to make these videos was for students that have young dogs right now. Every dog is different, and everyone has different struggles. But we all have been there, even my perfect little Derby Derb! They will grow, you will grow, no need to get upset over young dog stuff. Nobody comes out of the gate a champion. That just wouldn’t be fair, these struggles will make success so much more meaningful.