Friday, September 25, 2009

Discouraged but Determined

Jazz and I competed last weekend at the Granger AKC agility trial. We drove up on Thursday evening and stayed in a motel for three nights. We have only stayed in motels a few times and never for three nights. I was a little worried about it, but he was such a gentleman! He was a much better traveling companion than my ex-husband - sorry David. He learned to ride nicely in the elevator and not to pop out as the door opened. We both learned that popping out of the elevator can startle little old ladies. OOPS. He never even considered jumping on the many people who stopped to pet him. He was even polite and reserved with the other dogs that were staying in the motel. It struck me as pretty funny that he walked beautifully in heel position while I lugged suitcase and dog stuff in and out of the motel. He walked placidly at my side when we went for our evening walks. Apparently, the only time he doesn't walk in heel position is in the obedience ring! What's up with that?

The agility part of the weekend was less successful. We did not qualify at all. I was very discouraged. I felt like everyone was zooming along, earning titles and being brilliant while Jazz and I are left in the dust. That was how I felt - the reality is much less dramatic. People learn and grow and try and fail and succeed and try some more. I don't know why I was so distressed by our performance. I need to summarize the good and the bad.

I already mentioned the motel behavior, which was really good. The other amazingly good thing was speed. Jazz is picking up speed with every trial. He ran in all six runs and seemed energetic and happy throughout. I had to remind myself that I have always had to beg him around the course by day two of a trial. This last weekend he ran and jumped and had a pretty good time. We had at least three runs that were very close to qualifying. He finished the weekend with no stiffness and seemed energetic the next day. This is great and I attribute it to better conditioning and Science Diet J/D dog food.

The things we are working on for the future are contacts, weaves and table. We have concentrated on jumpers courses all summer and neglected the other obstacles. Jazz jumped off the teeter before it hit the ground in standard the first day. I think he was surprised that it was a teeter. Some silly handler told him to "walk it" instead of saying "teeter" and the teeter itself had a solid base which looked different than any he has seen. He was very unhappy about the table all three days. He did progressively worse until the day three standard course went completely to pieces at the table. Worse yet - that course had a table and then weaves. Jazz thought he had died and gone straight to agility hell! He stood at the table and barked for quite some time. I was determined that he would not sass his way out of the whole deal. He complained, but he did get on the table, sit, get off the table and weave. By then we were way over time. He decided to help me make up time by blasting out of the tunnel, skipping the contact on the A frame and knocking the jumps down on the way to the finish line. Good heavens!

So there is work to do and I am still feeling a little discouraged, but I love the dog and the sport. What can I do? I will have to keep learning and help him learn also.

Scott County agility here we come!

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