Monday, June 14, 2010

Multisport Weekend

At some point in the last month, it has become fairly common for us to get up at 4:30AM. Saturday this weekend was no different, as Lowell was entered in the Flirt with Dirt 5K race at Novi's Lakeshore Park. I was coming along as a spectator. I find 5K's brutal. Give me a couple-hour long triathlon any day over a 5K, which I find to be an all-out pain fest. I do them from time to time, but I was happy to be the support staff this weekend.

I decided to bring Cadence along to help round out the cheering section. Primarily, I just like hanging out with my dogs, but I also wanted to work on attention and focus in an environment that was higher than our neighborhood park but lower than an agility class on the Stimulation and Distraction scale. I figured 600+ running people and several spectating dogs would provide distraction, but create less arousal than running, barking agility dogs.

Cade did great with the race environment. He was calm and attentive the entire time. He got to socialize with several people, and made fast friends with a quiet teenage boy and sat with him thoughout most of Lowell's race. Which was interesting - Cade is friendly with people, but he rarely seeks out extra attention from people besides Lowell and me (and his Aunt Cari at agility). I also had my clicker with me, so we played a variation on Karen Pryor's game, which I termed "50 things to do with a stump." I received a few compliments on how well behaved and well trained he was. I assured them all that he definitely has his moments, but he was conducting himself like a perfect gentleman Saturday and I was very pleased.

Oh, and Lowell kicked ass at the race. Came in first in his age group and 20th overall! Cade and I were very proud.

Because we are Border Collie-type personalities anyway, we headed home, then straight to an annual vet visit for the cats and Cade (everyone remains in great health - yay!), then out to my Mom's house for a bike ride and dinner. Came home in time to pack for the next day's agility trial, and crash into bed.

Sunday we "slept in" until 5:30, then headed to Bloomer Park for our second AKC trial with Django and Maebe. Maebe had two nice runs, but Lowell missed that she popped out of the weaves early in the Jumpers class, and she missed her teeter contact in Standard, which happens sometimes when she is put on a new teeter for the first time. Her other contacts were great, and she was jumping nicely and keeping all her bars up.

Django had a perfect Jumpers run and got first place. Now he only needs one more leg for his first AKC title! Our Standard run also went great. He really was the most focused he has been in the last few trials, he followed my handling well, and we felt like a really good team. Unfortunately, he stepped on the broad jump three obstacles from the end, which is what happens sometimes when your mom has not brought out a broad jump since April to work you on. So, we NQ'ed, but it was still one of my all-time favorite runs with Django. He was running fast and confidently and very connected with me. We both were having a lot of fun together.

Cadence did well at the trial also. He was able to watch both rings (from a fairly big distance) and still keep his cool. We also worked on his crate barking, this time bringing along a Manners Minder to help reinforce calm in the crate even when he can see motion outside of it. Though not perfect, we did make progress. Any barking episodes were generally short protests of indignation, rather than ongoing temper tantrums about the injustices of being confined when there are running dogs to herd. Hopefully we are getting there.

The weird thing about AKC trials is you have two runs and can call it a day, so we were packing up by about noon. Which in some way was a bummer because we entered the Bloomer trial so that we could also watch the track bikes on the Velodrome there, but we were finished before the cyclists even arrived. Oh well. We were exhuasted so were happy to head for home rather than wait.

Overall, this was the type of perfect weekend we were hoping for this summer - being able to balance our human sports with our dog sports, while also just having time to all hang out together. Taking the next weekend off from competition to rest and to unbury our flower beds from the scary amount of weeds that have taken up residency. Guess it can't be all fun and games all the time!

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