Monday, July 30, 2012


Dusty and I went to the 4RK9's NADAC trial today, and I learned a lot from our runs.  We started the day with a long and very spread out Tunneler's course.  Over the years, Dusty and I have argued our way through many a Tunneler's course.  I don't know if the disagreements were provoked by poor timing on my part or a sincere belief on Dusty's part that I might completely disappear while he is in one of the tunnels.  I would have preferred  to do a front cross at the entrance to #10, but I knew there was no way I could get there before Dusty.  My only alternative was to layer the #10 tunnel and hope I could get Dusty to turn away to #11.  I could have given my "switch" command a little sooner, but Dusty made the turn without comment.

Both Dusty and Belle need a little more training in making a 90° turn out of a tunnel (e.g., #3 and #9).  I want to try Stuart Mah's concept of using a quieter voice to grab their attention and shift them from obstacle to handler focus, and see if I can improve our ability to make a tight turn out of a tunnel when I am behind the exit.

Chances was a heart breaker for me, but it was also our best run of the day.  We managed all the difficult stuff and made it all the way to the end of the dog walk.  Unfortunately, when I released Dusty to the final hoop, I failed to put enough pressure on his line and he came running across the line toward me instead of running forward to the hoop :-(

Dusty finished his Open Chances title back in 2007 when there was a distance challenge included in Regular.  To date, he has only four Q's in Elite Chances.  Of those four, three were earned with David and only one with me.  On the other hand, the wonderful way that Dusty did the hard parts today gives me hope that we've finally at a point where Chance Q's will start to come our way.

There was only one Regular course offered today.  As in Touch n Go, Dusty blew the dog walk contact.  Unfortunately, instead of calling him back for the contact as I did in Touch n Go, I hoped the judge didn't perceive it as missed, and I was running with one eye on the judge.  Not good.

My plan for 10-12 was to stay on the outside of the box so I could run with the A-frame on my left and rear cross #16.  Unfortunately, I didn't remain far enough for 8-10 and my path was very flat if not veering ever so slightly right as I approached #14.  So despite my saying "switch," Dusty turned toward the weaves after #11.  After a bit of micro-managing, I ended up with the A-frame on my right.  Because the tunnel was sticking out, I was forced to move left to avoid it, and then I must have moved every so slight right to indicate #14.  This time, despite my saying "come," Dusty turned away from me.  (This was a very common error on this course ;-)

Our Jumpers run was clean, but there were two spots that could have been better.  Dusty failed to collect before the 180 at 9/10 and slips making the turn to #10.  I thought my pre-cue was timely, but apparently Dusty requires it to be earlier and/or more obvious.

Dusty jumped #13 in extension.  This one was definitely my fault.  I was moving forward to get into position for my front cross.  I needed to get there sooner.  A quiet "Dusty" might have also helped to bring him into handler focus between #12 and #13, so that he jumped with less extension over #13.

Things to Work on In Training
  1. Handling Dusty with a minimum of "excitement."  Staying smooth and fluid, and using my voice only as needed.
  2. Remembering to use my off-arm when it is appropriate.
  3. Make sure Dusty is picking up on collection cues when I give them.
  4. Teaching Dusty that a quiet voice means he should check in with me; a louder voice means he should drive on.
  5. Coming straight off the dog walk and not jumping off the side.

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