a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Jake Weekend Report

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Jake Weekend Report

Not nearly as good as with Tika. This is the first week in class and the first weekend of competition where I have been completely certain that Jake is deaf. He did very well in class Wed. night, fast and happy and we didn't mess up more than usual, I don't think. But in competition this weekend, he seemed slow and uncertain at many times. I tried very hard to plan courses where I could get in front of him or cross in front of him on difficult passages, and it occurred to me to wonder, after a while, whether I'm overhandling in an attempt to compensate, when in fact he had been doing quite well in previous weekends considering that I didn't *know* that he was deaf.

We got 0 for 7 Qs this weekend, and it is very rare for Jake to get zero Qualifying scores in a weekend. Admittedly, the Masters classes and the Grand Prix Qualifier were among the tougher ones I've seen in a while, but still--

In the Snooker class, he did much better than any other Performance dog, but we were half a leap away from finishing obstacle 7 in the closing, which is what we needed to get a Qualifying score. He'd have made it in time if he hadn't kept charging straight ahead on 2 occasions when i needed him to to make a u-turn and come with me, and I do blame that on his deafness--he's not looking at me, he seems to be waiting to hear my voice commands.

Both of his Standard runs were nice except for snafus with the table, which is not usually a problem for us. The first day, he ran onto and then right off the table instead of doing a Down, thinking, I believe, that it was a gamble and we were done with the run. The second day he stopped before the table and turned and looked at me, for a refusal fault. I don't know whether I can blame either of those on overhandling or on deafness; they just seemed like weird mix-ups.

Saturday's Gamblers class was, coincidentally, almost exactly the same gamble that we had practiced in class last Wednesday night--dog goes into a U-shaped tunnel to your right and blasts out parallel to you at the gamble line, then you have to flip them into weave poles going straight away from you. He flipped very nicely into the poles but then turned back to look at me--probably because he couldn't hear me saying "weaveweaveweave" which has always been the accompanyment to finishing the poles.

Sunday's Gambler's class was probably doable except that in the opening he flew off the dogwalk while I was waiting for him to stop at the bottom and proceded to land on the table, which was part of the gamble, which meant that my planned navigation path through a gamble tunnel could no longer be used without negating the gamble, so we went back over the dogwalk--and he flew off the other end, and at that point I just wanted him to get a da**ed dogwalk contact (plus our options were pretty limited by then, too), so I tried again, and he blasted off of it for a 3rd time. By then, we didn't have anywhere near enough opening points even if we had gotten the gamble and I tried an approach to the gamble that let him get ahead of me a little and when I tried to turn him it took too long because he wasn't looking at me and then when he came back to me he had no momentum. Popping the dogwalk contacts has nothing to do with him being deaf. But having trouble turning into the gamble had a little to do with it.

In the Grand Prix he also blew off a dogwalk contact and continued straight out over an incorrect obstacle of an offcourse elimination.

But he did some very nice moves on the standard and GP courses that caught a lot of other dogs.

Actually in the run after the Gamblers run, I backed way off on the dogwalk, rather than pushing him through it and pointing down and yelling "Contact!", which is what I've been doing in class and he's been getting them almost perfectly. Instead I ran a little behind him and away from the dogwalk and he slowed down and stopped at the bottom like he's supposed to (well, he's not supposed to slow down, but he is supposed to stop) and then looked up at me. Danged dog. So that particular style of driving & overhandling, which I had used in Gamblers, apparently is counterproductive.

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