Thursday, April 19, 2007

Power Paws Camp Day 1

SUMMARY: A cold day but useful workshops in weaves and serpentines ("Serp City").

This year's T-shirt (just what I need--more t-shirts--): A nice cocoa-brown, with attractive but nonspecific artwork (no mention of Power Paws Camp specifically or of the year).
Boost in her pop-up crate, my purple chair, my black bag for carrying miscellaneous stuff (You never know what you'll need ringside). This is what we'll be transporting from ring to ring every couple of hours.
At noon, it was frigid and windy and threatening rain; three friends from Tika's Wednesday night class (Bobbie, Cathy, Ken) huddle out of the way of Mr. Weather. With my purple chair.
Kathie Leggett, our first workshop instructor, explaining the finer points of weave entries and exits.
Mary Ellen Barry walking along the first serpentine set-up which completely stymied me (as usual).

Mary Ellen demonstrates how the angle of your shoulders (and back) demarks the no-go zone for the dog.
Boost's alternate (and preferred) crate: My chair.

Our first day dawned chilly and windy and threatening rain; 40 degrees F in my back yard before we left home at 7. Fortunately I'm going against traffic for most of my trip, so the drive took less than 40 minutes and I just crated out of my car alongside the ring set-up.

It's very different from camp of previous years, which was a major production with 16 working rings plus several lecture venues and 200 or more campers and all sorts of events going on all the time. This was quite subdued; 8 rings, maybe 10 people per ring, and the check-in area. Lunch space was just a moderate-sized canopy with room for the instructors but the rest of us lunched elsewhere. Kind of funny that I recognized more of the instructors and staff than I did of the participants. Also very different from in the past.

Kathie Leggett taught our first 3-hour session, on weaving. Got some excellent advice on exercises to try. Quite a bit I'd heard before in one form or another, but I particularly like the suggestion about getting your dog to turn and find the weave entries (she credited it to Jen Pinder). Usual training methodology has you working in an arc around the weave entrance, having the dog alongside you, facing the weaves, and send her in. You vary the distance and the angle and the speed with which you're moving and add jumps and so on. But this suggestion was to be playing tug with your dog so that the dog's back (or side or whatever) is to the weaves, then wrestle the toy away as usual and just say "weave!" and let the dog figure out how to turn herself around and still find the weave entrance.

Mary Ellen Barry taught our afternoon 3-hour session on serpentines. I mentioned to her before we got started that she came highly recommended from a blogger--and then I couldn't remember the last name (Amy with Flirt and Bodhi, I said) and she knew the last name immediately. Interesting about all these cross-country, cross-internet relationshiops. :-)

I confessed up front that I've been doing agility for 12 years and I *still* can't do serpentines worth beans. Oh, my dogs learn how to do them as long as I stay out of their way, usually behind them or away from them (as in a gamble), but if I try to do REAL driving serpentines with me ahead of the dog, I bobble it. Which I then proceeded to demonstrate. So dumb, because I can WALK it perfectly every time, with the shoulders turned correctly and everything. But add a dog--pfft!

Anyway, she was very helpful. Again, much of what she said was things that I realized I had forgotten or not practiced as much as I thought I had, and so on, but she had some very specific suggestions for me in particular to work on for myself and for Boost, as well as the general concept that was applied equally to everyone. Another well-spent session. (If I have a chance next week I might try to draw a couple of diagrams and write up text for my own review and post here. TBD whether I'll have time.)

Interestingly, Boost did LOVELY weaves all day today, even on some harder set-ups in the serpentine class, which was NOT concentrating on weaves. Could we have more inconsistency, please? I mean, really--

Fortunately, it never did get around to raining, and it warmed up slightly in the later afternoon. Today we were done at 4:00. Helped set up the ring for tomorrow, frisbeed the dogs a bit, chatted with a couple of friends, and was still home, dinnered, and showered by about 6:00. A nice change.

Next two days are longer; start at 7:45 and go 'til 5:00, with sessions with three different instructors each day. Sunday is only two sessions again.

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