I know the numbering on this class is strange, but Blynn seems to think we haven't finished this round and according to my records we have. I've taken my time before blogging about class on Thursday. It was frustrating and inconsistent and I wanted to think about it.
Our first round was an unmitigated disaster. I never had Gimme's attention for more than a few seconds. I knew she wasn't hurting because we had a session with Tonya the day before and she said she was back to usual physically, though she did put a lot more clean energy in her. Tonya left at the crack of dawn this morning for vacation, so I wanted to be sure we had a "last minute" fine tuning, given the recent discombobulation.
There are a lot of reasons why our first run was so bad. First we didn't have much warning knowing we were next. Then there was a new person loitering between both doors with her St. Bernard, so we couldn't get in the foyer for our usual brain-warm-up. Instead we stood in the dark under the trees. They only moved when the other team came out and told them to move so we could come in (they were ignoring me, being focused on what was happening inside the arena). As it turned out, a returning student had forgotten where to crate her dog, so we couldn't have used the area to warm-up anyway. Then we get in for our turn and someone had dropped a bunch of hotdog pieces on the floor in three different places. I finally had Gimme's attention and we were supposed to come off the dogwalk for a 90 degree right turn to the weaves, except the lady with the St. Bernard is back, standing right next to the barrier at our 11 o'clock. <SIGH> The whole round was a waste of time - i.e. nothing positive gained from it.
At one point Blynn said something to me and I grumbled about the "quart of food" on the ground. I was very frustrated and likely spoke sharply because of it. Later Blynn talked to me and asked me not to "bark" at her. I didn't remember doing it and certainly didn't intend it, but I figure this is what she meant. Along with an apology, I said I hadn't intended to bark at her, but I was frustrated with Gimme and I'm sure it showed up in my tone. To which she commented, she thought I was going to have a lot of frustration "as long as the sun and moon have to be in perfect alignment to get Gimme to work with you".
To say the least, I was stunned by this assessment. Gimme loves to train and tries hard. She has issues and so she does have needs which must be met, but I don't think they are unreasonable. In thinking about this, I think Blynn is making a general assessment covering the last few months. Think about it, I was "broken" for about 4 months starting back in April and how I was doing surely affected Gimme. And now with this recurrence of her barn hunt injury, Gimme has been broken for more than a month. There have been times in there when she was brilliant, but I think Blynn is only seeing one long pattern of inconsistent performance.
I don't think we need perfect cosmic alignment for her to do well. For instance, for our next session, I was told at the last moment we would be up first. I cut my walk through short (never getting to the end), got Gimme from the car, potty walked her briefly, stepped in the foyer and had about a minute to do our warm-up game, then on the course for a near flawless performance. I had her attention the whole time and there was only one place where she erred. I didn't know all of the course, but Gimme went everywhere I sent her and her one mistake could have been my fault - I'll know when I get the video.
In thinking this over, in hindsight, it probably would have been better to take a few months off when my hand problem started. I don't think the time was a waste, but it may have contributed less than great agility training to our history. I've decided for the next couple of months to go back to basics. I'll practice heeling to the startline, practice more of Mecklenburg's six recall-to-heel behaviors, and go back to treating every few obstacles. I may work with the course laid out, but getting through it won't be my aim. I also have some ideas about working through the food shopping and starting work on the reactivity, I'll be using our "whazzat" a lot.
I know my plans will work, I just have to work through them and not let myself be lured into doing the course without the basics in place. Blynn would want me to be stricter with Gimme, but its not my style and for heaven's sake, she's not a Border Collie. So, I'm not going to take Blynn's comment personally, though it sure felt personal when she said it. Instead I'm going to take it as a challenge to get back on plan with my brilliant girl. She doesn't have to be brilliant all the time. Still, I do want to see the less than brilliant moments in the "damn good" category. ☺
I don't think I've mentioned I have signed up for a Rally FrEe course on Tuesday nights, starting in October. The class is in Lynnwood, so it will be a long drive, 1:15 going up and probably longer coming back due to rush hour traffic.
Now I'm going to start packing the car and then we'll leave for the drive to our hotel in Clackamas, Oregon. We have two element trials on Sunday, for containers (AM) and exteriors (PM). I'm not as confident with containers because it'll be a field of boxes and we'll be doing them four times. Gimme tends to get more and more stimulated each time she sees boxes, so she could revert to demolition mode. I think it'll go smoother when we get to level 2 container element and then the search will have a mix of containers, not just boxes. I'm certain we'll do well with the exterior element. In any case, cross any body parts you can spare.