Monday, April 9, 2012

Road Trips & Run Throughs

As I mentioned last week, Southpaws K9 was hosting a run-through on Friday in advance of their CPE agility trial being held in Lakeville, MN this past weekend. We don't do CPE, but CPE uses the teeter and we DO need to see more of those!! So it made perfect sense to pack up the troop and drive 2 1/2 hours for a few minutes in the ring, right? Right!

To be honest, I almost bagged out on the idea. I took the day off work on Friday because my car was long overdue for an oil change -- like 1000 miles overdue, so I really wanted to have that done before embarking on any road trips. My appointment was at 11:00 and all morning I sat there thinking how stupid it was to go so far for a fun run. This was due largely to the fact that I was just plain exhausted.

Actually getting up and leaving the house for our appointment helped to wake me up some. I got home shortly before noon and ate some lunch. My Garmin said that the trip was about 2:24 and the run-through was scheduled to begin at 3:00. I figured I really didn't need to be the first person there, so I bumped my departure time back to about 1:00. As I left, I still thought it was a stupid idea to drive over 300 miles just to be able to practice on a teeter. But it is what it is, so I went.

And I'm so glad I did! We had a fabulous time and it was really so good for both Kaiser & Secret to have this opportunity.

We pulled in to the arena around 3:40 or so. They were speculating walk-throughs on the hour or so, which I figured put me on a good schedule for the second round. Turns out they were running late, however, and were just finishing building the course as I arrived. I squeaked in to get Secret & Kaiser in the running order right before they closed it off to any more dogs. Great timing! I familiarized myself with the course quickly for the purposes of Kaiser's run, but I more or less planned to spend Secret's entire two minutes on the teeter. Then I hauled butt to get everything set up and the dogs pottied and brought inside. I'd been hoping to just crate out of the car, but it was a much further jaunt than I'd expected, so I set all three dogs up in the x-pen.

The first round ran tall to small, so Secret's turn was up first. I signed her up to run in the 20" group. The run-through was allowing toys in the ring, but no food. Considering the struggles I've always had with getting Secret to play in a trial environment, I knew it was up in the air as to whether or not she'd show any interest in toys in the ring. I didn't bring her out of the pen until the dog before us was in the ring in an effort to avoid her getting stressed prior to our turn. I brought out the "big guns" straight away with the Udder Tug.

As usual, she saw all of the people & dogs milling about and she did start to stress. I got down on the floor with her and started darting the tuggy around on the floor in front of her. This got her attention and she started to pounce on it and even gave me some tugging before we went into the ring for our turn.

When we were up I walked her into the ring on leash and she seemed to shut down a bit on me again -- she didn't seem interested in the tug when I offered it to her. I sent her over a couple of jumps on the way to the teeter and she lit up again and the game was on! Toys in the ring, yay!

I showed her the teeter and asked her for a touch, which she gave me -- tug! Touch harder -- tug again! Slam! Slam? No slam. Hmm, okay. So I just asked her to do the whole teeter at that point and she was totally okay with it. There wasn't a whole lot of confidence with holding our end position (this was a pretty bouncy teeter), but she was doing the full teeter with no hesitation, so I just quick released while she was still four-on the board. Happy tugging!! Lots & lots of play! As planned, I used my entire two minutes just on the teeter. When I heard them call out 15 or 30 seconds we did one more teeter and then ran the line of jumps out of the ring. More tugging!! I think she actually tugged a little even after I put her leash back on, but then it was the usual freight train back to the crating area for treats.

Kaiser's first run went well, too. He had a BIG AIR moment over the a-frame the first time, but he was a very good boy on his contacts and even stopped on the dog walk when I asked him to. No fly-offs on the teeter, either -- such a good boy! He was slip-sliding a bit on the turf, but it didn't seem to throw him too much. I ran him at 8" due to the discovery of continued degeneration of his right knee that was discovered at our vet appointment on Thursday. He's been started on Adequan now and we'll see what happens (ie: if he can do USDAA anymore since he has to jump 12"), but at the moment he seems perfectly happy at 8" despite the findings in his knee.

Small dogs were up first for the next round, so Kaiser was up again. I schooled his dog walk when he didn't stop and after that he put in two really nice runs. He was in such a good mood and seemed to really have a lot of fun with the course. I was debating only taking Secret to the USDAA trial at the end of the month, but considering that Kaiser will almost be done with his loading dose of Adequan by then, I'm tempted to take him along and see how he does at 12". I have to decide soon, as the entries close on the 16th.

For Secret's second turn I decided to go ahead and try the whole course with her. I am *so proud* of her! The course started with a tire that she's never seen -- one of the thin foam breakaway models -- but she popped right through it with no problem. The teeter was obstacle 14 or something on course and she just attacked it. When I released her, though, instead of going to the next jump she whipped back at me and asked, "Where's my dang toy?" I laughed and let her have her tuggy, then dragged her (tugging) back to the start line to just start again. We'd used up about half our time by this point. She was zippier on the second go -- she'd come into the ring pretty stressed, but play time after the teeter really brought her back to me. She was a sassy girl on course, barking at me as I called her name for a turn while she was in the tunnel. This time we did our teeter and continued on to finish the course (with a little twist I added to up the difficulty a bit) and finished ahead of our time limit. Tug! Tug! Tug! She was a happy girl. :o)

So yes, as completely RIDICULOUS as it was to drive a total of 5 hours for less than 8 minutes in the ring, it was so worth it. The dogs really enjoyed themselves (well, minus poor Luke who didn't get to do anything) and it was a very positive training opportunity. I certainly wish we had the chance to do stuff like this closer to home, but it is what it is. I'm glad we were able to go -- and now I feel much more confident about the USDAA trial at the end of the month. I was horrified at the thought of entering pairs due to the possibility of Secret not doing the teeter. I understand that this possibility certainly does still exist, but I feel a lot better about it now!


  1. Sounds like fun, and you are no crazier than the rest of us!

    1. lol Thanks for admitting it, Greg. ;o) Glad I'm not alone!

  2. are so NOT alone! My longest trip for a fun match was nearly 4 hours (one way!) for a grand total of 4 minutes in the ring. The experience of the entire trip, from doorstep to doorstep, is what makes those 4 minutes worth it though :)

    1. Four hours??? FOUR hours?? Wow, you win. :o) I suddenly feel lucky that I only had to go 2 1/2. lol

      And yes, it's the whole journey. I hate driving with a passion, but road tripping with the dogs is slightly more bearable. Look into the back at the cute sleeping dogs is a great way to break the monotony. heehee And in the long run, it's always very good for them to learn to take long trips, get out to play and then take trips home again. Hopefully it helps to remove some of the stress of trials!

    2. Yup a crazy 4 hrs...I stayed overnite at a friends though (also good for learning to road trip). I live very rural so the closest place with all equipment is 1.5hrs (one way) and that's the small club I belong to (we were featured in Clean Run in the March issue!). But we're non-sanctioned and do few fun matches so the next closest fun matches are 4 hrs away. Yup, crazy, I know ;)