Friday and Saturday, Belle and I went to Davenport, IA, for Scott County Kennel Club’s agility trial. The judge was Scott Chamberlain, and he set up some interesting courses. Friday we managed a double Q despite a rather large bobble on the JWW course. Saturday, I failed to be clear in the opening run and Belle by-passed the second jump. I only do a limited number of AKC trials each year since I’m unwilling to travel more than 70 miles or so for only two runs. At several points, I vowed I would no longer pay to play on such hard courses, but Belle runs so nicely, that now I look forward to them as puzzles to be solved.
Three of the four courses this weekend were full of subtle challenges, and a few that were very obvious. An interesting feature of Friday’s JWW and today’s Standard course was a jump that required a tight wrap. That’s were Belle and I had a major bobble on Friday. I rehearsed decelerating and bringing up my off-side arm to cue the wrap, but it never occurred to me that Belle would fail to heed the deceleration cue. When I realized she had kept going after the jump she was well on her way to an off-course jump. Luckily, she responded to her name and I side-stepped away from the jump so she returned to me without back-jumping and on we went.
Interestingly, when I came home, Clean Run was waiting for me with an article by Daisy Peel, “Balance in Training,” that contained a similar example—a dog that didn’t understand the body cues for a front cross unless the handler first got its attention by calling his name. Needless to say, until Belle and I have had an opportunity to work through this in training, I will be trying to remember to use her name.
Saturday’s wrap in Standard was more challenging, but I felt like we nailed it. Unfortunately, the second jump in the two-jump, teeter opening was sufficient off-set that Belle ran past it. She needed just a little more of an indication than I gave her to realize she was supposed to take that jump. On the plus side, it gives me hope that some day we can really nail a snooker course at speed.