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Archive for April, 2015

This weekend the Labrador earned her very first AKC Novice Standard Q and a first place!  It was our first AKC agility trial.  We entered Standard Novice.  While we’ve been competing in NADAC for two years, we’d spent some time training the four obstacles (teeter, tire, chute and table) that AKC uses that NADAC does not.   We read the rules, but didn’t fully understand all of them and figured the best way to learn was by doing!

The morning of the trial we arrived a little early to learn about where we check in, how numbers are handled, and getting measured.  Good thing we did because the Labrador got moved down on her jump height after being measured which I was happy about!  She gets to jump 20 inches instead of 24!  And there were two people available to measure so she’ll get her permanent card in the mail and not have to be measured again.  I also learned that ribbons were handled much the same as (self serve) as at a NADAC trial.

Some things that are fault in AKC aren’t a fault in NADAC (passing the plain of an obstacle).  But where as with NADAC you must have a fault free run to qualify, with AKC (at least Novice) you can have up to 15 faults (You have to score 85 out of 100).  Since I wasn’t completely clear on what was a fault and what wasn’t I just ran my course on Saturday.  We had a very disjointed started.  The Labrador wasn’t focused, but once I got her focused she was awesome.  She collected and dropped on the table, left the table flew long and low over the broad jump, into the chute!  From the chute she sailed through her weaves without a problem and over the final jump!  We skipped a jump in the beginning of the course, and I was told the next day that I had taken her back and done it we probably would have qualified.  I made the decision to move forward once I got her attention passing it by.  I’m happy with what she gave me once she got focused and cheered at the end of our run.

Sunday we had a fantastic start — chute to tunnel, to the dog walk to tire.  Then a switch to a jump.  She almost managed her stop on the table, but got right back on (-5 points).  From the table she completely missed the teeter, but I pulled her back and resent (-5 points).  From there well, the person scribing was more important than the jump (-5 points), but this time I pulled her back and had her do the jump once I got her focus back.  The rest of the course she was awesome.  Fantastic contact on the A-Frame good enough I got a front cross in, then beautiful weaves to the final jumps!  Again I left the ring happy with what I had gotten (the fantastic weaves, great contact etc), and knowing there are things we are working on and need to continue (not everyone wants to see you Ms. Labrador!).  What I didn’t realize was that we qualified!  After I left the ring, someone came up and congratulated me.  Then another person asked me if I’d gotten my ribbon.  Ribbon?  Really?  We were only Novice Standard dog to qualify that day!

 

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I learned a hard lesson this past weekend at a NADAC trial. I thought the Labrador was done with visiting folks. I thought we’d over come that, but it was cropping up more and more in practice. She would bounce over to visit the instructor and I’d call her, usually more than once. She always came back to me, but not always on the first call. And I let this continue. I’m sure you see where this is going.

In practice if she blew a contact I made her go back. We train two on two off. In the trial setting as long as she got one paw in the contact zone I didn’t care. We kept going. We were qualifying! It was new and exciting! We earned titles! And then there was this last trial.

Friday we entered two classes — Touch N Go and Open Tunnelers. We rocked. We were together and a team and she ran a fantastic 5.85 yards per second! Nothing could stop us! Two first place Q’s!

And then Saturday things started to fall apart. We started the day with a beautiful Chances run. She got the distance. We were flowing and graceful and then she leapt off the dog walk. The photographer even got a wonderful sequences of photos of this. Isn’t that the memory you just want to keep? Actually…just maybe it is.

Our next few courses were all over the place. Some almost good, but not good enough. Our teamwork was off. Something wasn’t clicking.

Then Sunday it all fell apart. Or at least that’s how it felt. Our Regular run I felt like I had an untrained dog. She was all over the place. She went to say hi to the photographer. She ignored my recall. She acted like she had no idea what contacts were. And lucky for me I have wonderful friends. It was all my fault. As the judge said in the briefing, “Everything out there that happens right is your dog. Everything that goes wrong, is your fault.”

But instead of blame, they reminded me things that I’d been told before, but let slide. Things I’d ignored to my out detriment. The next course she left me. I called her. Once. She didn’t come so I walked over to and without a word took her by the scruff, signaling for my leash. I leashed her up, walked her to her crate and put her up without a word. Then I walked away.

The next course she stayed with me, but blew a contact. I called her back and put her back on the contact and then praised profusely. Then we finished the course. Not a Q, but second place and only a 10 point fault.

What I had trained — what I had allowed was exactly what I was getting. It was time to remember my criteria, hold the line and take my ego out of it. When I called her to come, she must come or the game ends. This isn’t just a because I say so, but it in the end is a safety issue. If there is someone across the street she wants to see, but a car is coming, she must return to me if I tell her to. A contact must be a two on two off. This is the criteria I have trained. This is the standard I must hold her to even if it means we NQ a few courses as I insist upon this. That is one thing I love about NADAC is the ability to train in the ring. So, take my ego which wants us to win NOW out of it, strengthen the criteria so that in the future she knows this is the way to play the game she loves, and how to keep playing.

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