Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mission Impossible

Just when I think something is a sure thing... its not! Riley and I competed at a 3 day agility trial in Murfreesboro, Tennessee last weekend. Riley needs one qualifying run in Open Standard and one qualifying run in Open Jumpers to earn both titles. Surely, we can achieve both with 3 attempts at each. Nope, nada, nothing! Mission aborted!Our runs were messy and some mistakes were simply unexplainable. Many agility dogs are "tunnel suckers" and tend to be drawn inside of them from great distances. It can be a big problem for handlers. Riley has the opposite problem. She does not appear to be drawn to them at all. In fact, there was one instance where she turned around in the tunnel three times and simply would not go through it.

Weave poles were another big problem. She did not nail a single set of weaves. Riley would either blow past them or pop out early. We had to redo them once or twice in every run. She also surprised herself on one teeter (see below) the first day. It probably didn't help that it was extremely hot outside, but freezing cold inside. The air conditioner had to be running nonstop. I wore pants and a long sleeve fleece everyday. Riley was wild! I have never had a greyhound with so much energy and be so deceptive about it. Number one, she rests really well. It is an excellent quality to have. She normally sleeps all day while I am at work, but I don't think she misses a wink at noisy agility trials. She is a hard sleeper and undisturbed by barking dogs and constant commotion. Number two, at the start of each day, I would play fetch with Riley and take her for a long walk around the venue. Sometime during the middle of the day, I would take her for another long walk in the sun. We also walked in the evenings at a local park. All of this exercise didn't tone her down a bit. So here are the runs. There were some really nice moments here and there. I am learning that she works very far away from me at times.... like 30 or 40 feet away. Generally, you teach the dog to do the obstacle closest to the handler. It helps to remove the confusion of having other obstacles to choose from. But if your dog works 30 feet away, you will eventually have to layer. I recall layering a jump with Travis many years ago. This weekend I layered a tunnel (end of 2nd run) and a jump (end of 5th run). I tried to point it out on the video, but it just happens too fast and I'm usually not in view anyway. If you get bored, skip to the last two runs as those are the best ones.