Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tika in Advanced vs. Boost in Advanced

SUMMARY: When feeling discouraged about one's babydog, take two databases and call me in the morning.

After this weekend, with 10 runs in Advanced with Boost and exactly one Q out of that, I started feeling a bit blue. This is, after all, Boost's third trial in Advanced, with a TOTAL of 24 Advanced runs, with only TWO Qs to show for it. How pathetic is that? I mean, Tika blasted through Advanced from her first Advanced leg to her last in 5 trials encompassing a mere 18 total Advanced runs, 10 of which were Qs.

Furthermore, Jake finished his Advanced title (back in 1998) in only 4 trials, 26 runs, with 8 Qs.

But wait, said a lurking suspicion. And since anything lurking is bound to be worth paying attention to, I double-checked my database.

Boost completed her novice title in under 4 trials (the first of those we entered only one run a day and I concentrated on obstacles, not Qs). She Qed in 9 of 25 runs and they happened to be the right ones to complete that AD (Agility Dog) title.

Jake's Novice life I know nothing about; he had his AD already when I got him. And although he did his Advanced title in only 4 trials, it spanned 9 months, so there was a lot of training and non-USDAA competition around those trials.

But Tika--now, Tika--yes, a different story. After a couple of lovely runs at her first couple of trials, including placing in the ribbons in the Grand Prix (! -- something that we have duplicated only once or twice in the 30+ GPs since), she suddenly realized that she wasn't in Kansas any more (Kansas being a controlled training situation) and that the yellow brick road appealed far more than sticking to the tried and true. She flew off her contacts and we repeated them (in NADAC) or took her off the course. She flew off her start-line without staying and we took her off the course. She ran out of the ring to go see old friends, or squirrels, or hmmm not sure what that is but worth investigating. She grabbed my feet midcourse and there was no distracting her (something she had never done in a year of training, never, not even once), not with bitter apple or trying to get her to Down (oblivious) or feigning the screaming agony of death or anything. We Eed and we Eed and we Eed, and on the runs where we didn't, she knocked bars or I mishandled her for offcourses or whatever.

Tika was in USDAA Novice for 66 runs at 15 events spanning a year and a half. No wonder that, when we finally convinced her to do the job I thought I had trained her to do, she whipped through Advanced like it wasn't even there.

Sooooo I guess Boost is doing her apprenticeship in Advanced rather than in Novice. And it has been only 2 months since she moved up from Novice. She's not being a bad girl (like certain Aussieprobablies whose name needn't be mentioned yet again), but every little flaw or missing element in our training shows up in capital letters because of her speed.

I'll try to remember that. While all of her siblings are competing in Masters and we're still hangin' in the intermediate world of Advanced. (Well, OK, Bette's still in Advanced with us at the moment, but she's far more consistent, as shown by their 4+ Qs--they Qed in Grand Prix, too-- this weekend.)

7 comments:

  1. Aussieprobablies??

    I hope you are still having fun running? Sometimes it sounds like it isn't much fun.

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  2. I'm bad, aren't I? When I'm with the dog in the ring, I'm focused on the dog, and both Boost and Tika are absolutely fun to run. I can always find the energy after the run to play enthusiastically and tell them what clever dogs they are until they've gotten their special goodies and are put away.

    But I so easily give in to self-recrimination when I make errors that I really think I shouldn't be making. I know that everyone makes mistakes. One just has to watch the finals of any national or international championship to know that even the best of the best aren't perfect all the time. I just seem to make so many.

    So my weekends are definitely up and down. Love running the dogs. Enjoy the many friendships I'm lucky to have. Get pleasure from watching my friends have lovely runs--even complete strangers have lovely runs. I've always liked dogs, so I love being around all those pups. I just really wish I had more to show for it, despite all of the reminders that we're doing this just for the fun of it. If I were doing it only for fun, I wouldn't be doing USDAA any more, I don't think. I'm doing it also to take new knowledge and improved physical skills and more time invested in training and working with my doggie teammates--all of which I enjoy, by the way--and apply them to the new mental and physical challenges that agility always presents--which is also what appeals to me about the sport--and succeed. And when I feel that I don't succeed because of something dumb--especially if several in a single day--no, I don't enjoy that.

    -ellen

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  3. Oh, also--"aussieprobably"--I and quite a few others think that Tika is an Aussie. AKC's ILP process says she isn't, and I get questions all the time--more as she gets older, interestingly--about what mix she is. I have photos of other similar Aussies that say she really could be Aussie. So I say she's an Aussieprobably.

    -ellen

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  4. You know, of late, I am so grateful to my dogs for all they have given me, that every run is another gift from them. While many friends talk alot about how talented Flirt is and how we'll get her MAD and ADCH (once she starts hitting her contacts again), I couldn't tell you what we need for either. I just stopped paying attention, ever. It's been an interesting transformation of my attitude about agility.

    Probably because of my health. But also because there is no such thing as friendly competition in this part of the country. I feel fortunate to have made a handful of friends in agility that are like minded. People I can do DAM with and agree that we're all training in the ring and if the Q comes, then it comes.

    Life is so weird.

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  5. Tika is either part Aussie or Australian Cattle Dog. That is evident from her coloration. But she is also part something else. Her coat length is very uncharacteristic of an Aussie. Much more like a cattle dog. The shape of her head isn't very Aussie either. It's not broad enough in the rear. But she is beautiful anyway and a really good agility dog, so who cares. And who would want to do AKC anyway. :-D

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  6. Here are two photos that help me support my theory that Tika is Aussie (and mind that I do this all in good humor since it's a mystery that will never really be solved):

    (From a book about Aussies)
    (AKC-reg aussie from Tika's Wed night class)

    -ellen

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  7. I know what you mean about enjoying yourself at trials but wishing you had more to show for it. It's so difficult not to compare your team to other teams and to wonder sometimes if you should even try to Q in USDAA. I know I've often felt (and still do sometimes)that as soon as I feel like I've learned enough to "catch up" to the best handlers, they take a leap forward and leave me in the dust.
    But the feeling passes and I keep training and trialing and having small successes. Try to be thankful that you have such a fast dog, when you do have success it will be that much more exciting and rewarding :-)

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