Hooray! I finally broke down and set the first agility course of 2013 today. The yard is probably a couple more dry days away from ideal, but the clock is ticking for our trial next weekend and I decided that the yard be damned, we were going to play today! It got a little ripped up in spots (mostly because I let Luke come out and play), but it held up okay. We might not end up with grass in a few spots, but it will just match all of the other areas that don't grow grass anymore...
I've been following Ann Croft's "Agility Coach" page on Facebook pretty much since its creation this winter, so I've been eagerly waiting for the opportunity to finally try one of her Happy Hurdle courses out for myself! I just picked the most recent course that was posted this last Wednesday. It was the "Americanized" version of an International-flavored drill she posted last week. Honestly, Secret probably doesn't need to be doing too much crazy stuff at the moment when the goal of the day is to increase speed & motivation. This course was just right.
I should backtrack slightly -- On Wednesday we had a little accident at home. It was raining (it rained/snowed/sleeted most days this past week) and we were stuck inside the house, so I was playing tug with Secret on the floor with her woolie ring. Luke was jealous and going nuts from inactivity and was laying nearby. I started tossing the tuggy in the air for Secret to catch between tugs and after a few of those Luke just couldn't take it any more. I again tossed the ring into the air for Secret and...
That's pretty much the sound of two skulls colliding. Or it could have been teeth, I'm still not entirely sure. Either way they hit each other HARD and Secret more or less thought she was going to die at that exact moment. I managed to confirm that everyone's teeth were still intact and that there didn't appear to be blood anywhere, but Secret spent the better part of the evening flicking her tongue out and licking her nose, so I know she was hurting somewhere.
She didn't trust me and she didn't trust Luke. Secret already has issues playing around Luke because he has the bad habit of barging into pretty much anyone in his way when toys are involved. I spent the rest of the week locking Luke in the house while I attempted to get Secret to play with me. Fun times, having a dog who doesn't really care about agility nor wants to play with toys. The good news is that it did start to get better and I happily sacrificed my yard so that she could chase after frisbees and other fun stuff.
So, back to today. It's still hovering in the low 40's, but the sun is shining and it's not raining so I decided that today was the day! I started out by just doing a few short sequences with Secret and playing in between. She started out at what I'll call "trial speed" and it did take a bit for her to click on and start running with a bit more gusto.
I was completely dieing at the end of Secret's first session, but she was still running nicely for me. I ran the boys and then brought her out again to play. Nothing has changed with regard to her fussy rules regarding not using the same toy two sessions in a row... We'll deal with that issue later, but today I pandered to her because I needed happiness and motivation. We got in one nice run (on the video) and then she went kind of flat on me. When she came trotting out of the yellow tunnel I called it quits and put her back in the house so that she could watch me play with the boys and give them attention while she sat and did nothing. My hope is that we can build some sort of connection to, "You give me effort or you go back in the house and sit by yourself."
After a while I put the boys back in the house and brought Secret out for one more try. I grabbed her beloved Jolly Ball that time for the ultimate in motivation -- no excuse for her to be a bum this time. It worked. It wasn't the "prettiest" run (mostly because seriously, I am so out of shape and was dead on my feet by this time), but she was trying and she was moving. Good girl! We quit on that note.
I thought everyone did great! I'm super impressed that ALL dogs responded very well to the Ketschker turn up in the top half! It just worked better than a front cross, even with the boys. Everyone had nice wraps, too, and really surprised me with how well they all got the send to the backside entry of the tunnel. Sweet! I'm definitely feeling rusty after not being able to practice for nearly SIX MONTHS, but it will come back (hopefully quickly).
I'm hoping for at least a couple more opportunities to play with Secret before the trial next weekend, but we'll probably stick to smaller drills just to work on speed & motivation. I did call and make an appointment to take her in to see Dr. Marta for an adjustment, so we'll be doing that on Tuesday (which means no agility then or Wednesday, most likely).
Today I finally broke down and walked up to the vet clinic to buy some Frontline. I haven't been able to get it from the shelter since I'm not working there this month and I keep procrastinating on ordering it, so I just got it from the clinic. I'm so tired of pulling ticks off the dogs -- and we haven't even been walking the trails this week! Hopefully this helps with that little problem. Secret still gets all scabby where they bite her. Poor thing. We all hate ticks.