Monday, August 24, 2009

Williamston CPE

This weekend we entered Django, Maebe, and Tristan in the Williamston CPE trial put on by the Capital City club. This is always one of our favorite trials each year. The site is a YMCA day camp for kids, and is really a pleasant facility. There is a ton of area for setting up tents, and a nice little hiking trail along a river for walking/swimming the dogs during down time. Plus, this club is filled with friendly, fun members who put on a great event and spoil the workers with an amazing spread of food! As always, we had a wonderful time.

I would say this is perhaps the best weekend I have ever had trialing with Django. I was so proud of him. He qualified in 7 out of 8 runs, and even our NQ was a very successful run in my eyes as he surprised me by overcoming some things that have been challenges to us in the past. He earned three first places, one second, one third, and one fourth.

Since Django isn’t a super-high-drive Border Collie and can be sensitive at times, I think there have been some points in our training that I have tended to baby-sit and not challenge (or trust) him to develop. A main example is the effort I often go to prevent having to do off-side weaves, since they aren’t his strong suit. Consequently, I sometimes play things safe and probably end up slowing him down rather than risking making an error. This weekend I decided to trust him and to trust in the training and teamwork we have and to see what we could do together. He surprised me multiple times, and we had some of our nicest runs this weekend. It makes me realize that it is never too late to keep learning and training and improving together, and I am excited to see the ways he continues to get stronger in his performance.

The biggest landmarks for us were successfully performing off-side weaves multiple times and (essentially) completing the Jackpot gamble, which requires distance and obstacle discrimination and often gives us problems. Technically, he got his one NQ in Jackpot as he missed his A-frame contact (which is fairly rare for him), but he still performed the sequence correctly and at distance, so I count it as a big step forward for us as a team.

Maebe was entered in all the games, but we are keeping her out of Standard runs until her A-Frame performance improves/becomes less terrifying. She had her only NQ in Jackpot, which did require an A-Frame this weekend. As we didn’t want to rehearse a poor performance, and as it was raining and Maebe’s speed + wet contacts scares the hell out of us, Lowell intentionally ended the run early and omitted the A-Frame. Otherwise, she ran great and is definitely keeping bars up and spinning/barking much less and following Lowell’s line better and better. She really is a lot of fun to watch.

Tristan’s Q rate was not as high as the others (about 50%), but he had some very nice runs. He cleaned up on the Jackpot course, and got the maximum number of possible points in Snooker (which is always Lowell’s goal). He was weaving great this weekend, and, most importantly, held up for 8 runs over two days just fine. Since starting his acupuncture visits, he has been moving better than he ever has – it really is amazing the effect it seems to have had.

Cadence and Jade were able to go for some walks on the trail and Jade even took a dip in the river over the weekend. Cadence got to socialize with some friendly dogs and lots of people, and we had some little training sessions in between runs. He really is doing great. He handles trial environments very well, and is able to focus and play with me when I bring him out on breaks. I am very pleased with the drive, motivation, and attention he has been showing me, plus he is the silliest, cutest thing ever and he cracks me up constantly.

We came home Sunday evening tired but feeling happy for the great dogs and great friends that we have, and very grateful that we got to spend a weekend having such fun with all of them. I will spend this week getting ready for next weekend’s excursion, as Cadence and I leave for Puppy Camp with Susan Garrett at Say Yes! on Thursday evening. Should be another fun experience and I am looking forward to learning a lot over the three day camp as I lay the groundwork with my next agility partner.

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