Jazz and I were at the NADAC agility trial in the Quad Cities last weekend. I don't know if he learned anything, but I learned a lot!
I took Coach on Saturday to get him some experience with the noise and confusion of an agility trial. He was totally confident. He never appeared hesitant or confused at all. He waited nicely for me to release him to come through the door, sniffed and was sniffed with no fear, and greeted all people with enthusiasm and affection. He had a great time inside and waited quietly in his crate in the car. It was a really great start for him!
I also learned that a Nissan Sentra is just never going to be big enough for both Samoyeds and all the junk I bring to a trial. It was really ridiculous trying to get everything in the car. More on that later!
I got some great coaching and tips from Cynthia during novice walk throughs. Her rule of thumb is that rear crosses should happen closer to the obstacle you are leaving and front crosses closer to the obstacle you are going to. I talk about the dog's light bulb moment, this one was one of mine.
I learned to scribe for NADAC. It was fun, but I don't like scribing for courses with contacts because I have to watch the judge and cannot watch the dog run. It's more fun when the judge sits next to you and tells you what the deductions are so you can watch the dog part of the time.
The judge commented that he could tell which handlers usually ran AKC because they overuse front crosses. His comment was that NADAC courses flow better than AKC and need fewer front crosses and more rear crosses. I don't know if this is true, but it is an interesting observation.
I learned something about Jazz last weekend also. (I think it is something I sometimes know and then forget.) Jazz ran clean all weekend, but very slowly. We had many clean runs that failed to qualify because we were slow. I cheered, begged, and pleaded with him to get him moving and nothing worked. People played with him to get him riled up before we went in the ring, but he never ran faster. I checked his movement and felt him all over to be sure he wasn't hurting and he seemed fine. I left on Sunday believing that he is just not that interested in agility, or I am not a very good motivator. On the way home I heard his stomach making some really awful noises. He did not eat a bite all day Monday. He refused to play with Coach and slept in the yard all day. His stomach quieted down Monday night and he has been eating and playing ever since. I learned to trust my dog. He likes to run and he will give me the best he can. The dog that is sometimes accused of not having a "work ethic" ran twelve runs for me with a stomach ache. He even earned his novice hoopers title on Sunday. I hate that I have to be reminded to trust my dog.
So, in one long weekend, I learned that my puppy is confident, my car is too small, my handling and show skills keep improving, and I was reminded that Jazz is a good guy and I need to trust him. Not bad for a weekend!