Well what a weekend that was.
This was Scandal’s 2nd show as a grade 5. After her pushing her waits and dog walks at Worcester I was wondering how the weekend was going to go. We’d had two (yes, I managed to train twice – woohoo!) brilliant training sessions with Scandal just being yummy, and me managing, most of the time, to steer her in the right direction.
To summarise… just super, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Suddenly this green baby dog that I brought out last year, has matured like crazy in the last couple of months and we look like more of a team, we understand each other, I am showing/telling her instructions slightly quicker so she knows where she is going and it seems to be paying off...
SWAT on Saturday, I was determined she would stop on her dog walk with me telling her calmly to ‘target’, and she did. Lovely round, and she won it, taking us to grade 6. In the 3-5 combined jumping, bless her socks she fell over coming out the tunnel at the start, and then near the end span before a jump, I was sure the judge had marked it, but we went to have a look anyway as Garth was sure the judge had clapped - she had marked us clear – we came 4th, or 5th, I got a rosette for 4th but apparently they messed up and we were 5th, lol.
Grade 5 jumping, I lurrrved this course. We have been training an ‘out round’ in training and lets just say, Scandal hasn’t quite worked out that you are meant to jump the jump I’m recalling her over. Even if it’s on medium. Work in progress. She will do it if she doesn’t actually think it’s an ‘out round’, so we just don’t call it anything in the ring at the moment Anyway so I decided to recall her to my hand and flick her over the jump, rather than send her round (if that makes no sense it was the 3rd round on the video, obstacles 1-2). It worked really nicely, I raced her on the weaves and she got a lovely entry, which I was pleased about. She went clear and won that too Our last round, 1-7 jumping, we got e’d (by jump 2 lol) but Scandal did some really great work so again I was pleased… and starting to wonder if I’d used up our clear round quota for May as well as June.
Packington on the Sunday, started off the day brilliantly by winning combined 4-7 jumping. That was a COOL course, lots of distance, just the sort Scandal likes (I like it too except the running part). What was more cool was she won by 0.8sec, and an agility champ was 2nd – cooooly.
Then in the grade 5 jumping, Scandal again went clear, and got a 2nd. However I am more pleased that she actually went clear and did a generally good round, if a little switched off at the beginning. I need to have better contingency plans. I gave my lead/toy to the lead person, and off they went. I set Scandal up on the line, and the dog that had finished its run ran back in the ring to stalk us. So I released Scandal away from the jump, but had no idea what to do as I didn’t have my toy. We have such a routine now (although I’m sure it doesn’t look like a routine to most people) that I just didn’t know what to do. Anyway dog caught, Scandal re-set, and I was just leading out and someone noticed the long jump had blown down, and shouted this out. So, once again, released Scandal to me, by now desperately looking round for the lead/toy which had seemed to have grown legs and gone for its own walk. Tried to set her up for a 3rd time and she was stood there air scenting for Garth, completely oblivious to me! Got her back doing some hand touches (the only thing I could think of to re-focus her), and third time lucky, we were off. She felt steady 1-4 but then switched back into speedier mode the rest of the course. But that is progress from last year when she’d have probably been off to investigate another ring if we’d had to wait more than 5 seconds before going
The Purina Pro Plan 3-5 Agility was last and the course was great, just nice and flowy nothing hard. Love these nice courses. Had decided Scandal had to stop (however, if she does a fast dw, I am happy with her stopping on the floor, if I correct, she will then do a slow dw). She did a run to the floor and stop, so off we went, everything else was great. On her seesaw I now run past them, rather than being hesistant, and she braked just a bit too late and slightly flew it, so we re-did it and she did a great one. So I was pleased with this.
Monday (totally worn out after 3 days of agility) was of course Olympia day. Olympia day Olympia day. I was so stupidly excited/nervous I could hardly sleep Sunday night and was wide awake by 6.30 Monday morning, even though we didn’t have to get there first thing. And it was chucking it down. I hate the rain. And, thanks to Scandal tearing a hole in my waterproof trousers, I don’t have any… Although I concluded afterwards that I’d rather have brought them with me and had 1 wet leg and 1 dry leg than 2 wet legs. Anyway I sheltered under peoples brollies where I could, and didn’t get too drowned. Scandal was in part 2 of the class, so watched part 1 and watched people do crazy things that always happens when it’s a qualifier, screaming at them on contacts, running round like headless chickens etc. Actually I do that too, so I best not chuckle too much
Walked the course, I liked it, well I would have if it wasn’t a qualifier. Of course put qualifier in front and I automatically think we can’t do any of it… but normal class and I’d be up for it. Watched Martin Cavill and his lovely young merlie collie go clear and into the lead, and then watched several other really nice dogs go round. We were near the end and it wasn’t raining quite so hard when I went off to get her.
So, off I went, G went to queue and I went to the exercise area to warm Scandal up. Playing tug with her, and a frickin muzzled staffie comes absolutely flying at her, and thuds into her side… to be fair, not full on slam, but enough for my world to practically end in an instant. Poor Scandal was so focused on her toy that it completely freaked her out, I grabbed princess and manoevered myself between her and evil staffie. The woman managed to get the dog back and apologized and at that time it was more important that I calmed down than got in a tizz. Scandal promptly spooked at 2 little diddy puppies that she’d just said hello to fine, hackles up, wouldn’t go near them, growling etc. We did eventually get over that one. I then didn’t know what to do… put Scandal back… ‘calm down’ (which I knew I wouldn’t be able to do, I’d just get more and more angry that this idiot who knew she had an aggressive dog had let it off lead and come and get my dog, who hadn’t even seen this dog, and wasn’t even close).
So I decided we’d go to the rings, but take our time. I had half calmed down, half mad. G dropped back a couple so I could re-focus. That time passed quickly and I set Scandal up on the line, and then great… a horrible snappy barky dog that was running after us was stood RIGHT behind her, as the woman was trying to find her scribe sheet thing with the booker inner (or whatever they are called!). Scandal really didn’t want to sit. It’s the only sit she didn’t hold first time all weekend. Her sits had been rock solid up until then. Then of course I didn’t know what to do – make her sit, or know that it’s just because she’s scared of nasty big dog behind her (which to be fair I would’ve been too if I was her size). I asked her to sit, but ran out to where I wanted to release her so she wasn’t sat for very long. And then we were off, speedy Scandal ahhhhhhhh just lovely! I can still remember laughing going from the aframe to the weaves because we were having so much fun, felt like we were working together and it was going so well.
Ok up to the weaves it had been going well, so now I start to panic (and go into my conscious) – “AHHHH – we are going CLEAR in an OLYMPIA qualifier!!!” Next up was the seesaw. Having seen a multitude of dogs do various things on the seesaw, a couple sideways roll up and off it, lots skid up and slide off, some just bail out, etc. After the sliding seesaw in the dry on the Sunday, I figured if she tried to slide up again there wouldn’t be much chance of her getting any grip… but we had to run all classes me handling the same, so I was just going to say ‘seesaw seesaw’. However, plans and all that… “seesaw seesaw… WAITTTTTTT” a complete shriek which totally threw Scandal and she just stopped halfway up the seesaw like “ok ok, you didn’t need to shout” and then I had to coax her to the end of the seesaw. And the most amazing thing is she still won it!!! Holey Moley! I was so gutted that I’d messed up the seesaw, as I’d seen some great rounds and didn’t think that would be enough to get in the top 3… but it was! Lesson still learnt… I need to trust her, ALL the time, and any time that doesn’t work… more training needed!
As I said on facebook, it actually feels quite surreal. I am terrible in qualifiers as I just seem to completely lose the ability to get round a course, but apart from the seesaw thing, it was actually a good run. This year for me is about being able to say “yeah, that was a great run” rather than “yeayyy, a rosette”, as I want to be able to know that we’ve done our utmost best rather than hmm that turn could’ve been tighter. And this weekend we had lots of runs that I loved! I am so happy with her, 100% solid on her weaves, 7 out of 8 perfect waits, and the 8th I could put a reason to. Aframes were all brill, dog walks were all fast with no self releasing, one ‘oops’ slidey seesaw, one ‘oops’ slow seesaw, her turns are far far better with me now being able to verbal cue her from a distance, and she adding in a check stride. We still have lots to work on, and I’ve got some ideas to help us proof things.
I will write about Hinckley very soon!