Monday, May 28, 2012

I attended my first trial

I attended without Marley. I feel a little guilty because I had so much fun.  A long time ago I figured it would be a good idea to volunteer and get a good feel on what to expect without having to worry about Marley.  I was pretty flexible and didn't request a specific task, I figured whatever they assigned me would be a great learning experience.

I was assigned the Gate!

When I first saw the schedule I expected to see my name under pole setter or leash runner, something that made sense for a newbie.  After looking up the Gate, I have to say I was totally intimidated and figured it was a mistake.

It was not a mistake.

I was given a sharpie and hustled over to a gigantic white board with lists of dogs.  My instructions were:  Call the dogs in order and make sure they enter the ring at the right time.  Umm...ok, I guess I could do that.

Then I was swarmed with people who had conflicts and wanted to move up or down on the list.  So, I was trying to talk to everybody, call dogs and make sure everybody knew when to enter the ring.  And, somebody would inevitability say, "you have to make sure to watch X handler/dog."  

As I was questioning my sanity, a friend saw me and said, "you need to speak up nobody can hear you and during your break you need to find Joe."  Eventually, I found Joe, who was totally calm and he gave me some great advice.  

After observing Joe, I found my groove and since nobody complained I figure I must have done alright.  I was able to watch some amazing dogs.  

I was totally inspired and I think Marley would enjoy a trial.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Favorite...

I totally love watching Marley when she the lightbulb goes off.  Her eyes brighten, her grin gets huge and her whole body wiggles. Those moments are my reward.

The whole body wiggles started during weave training (I didn't want to write about weaving but I just can't help myself).  We were working the arch around two poles.  She skipped the poles and ran to the robot.  She looked around wondering why there were no treats.  Upon noticing the poles, I saw her eyes brighten as she scampered through the poles.  Of course she went in the wrong direction but I somehow managed restrained myself and wait.  She looked around and realized she was in the wrong spot so she turned around and went through the poles the correctly.  The robot rewarded her and I started jumping up and down in excitement.  She rewarded me with the grin and whole body wiggles. 

Yesterday, we were working on combining two sets of poles and she kept skipping the first set on the right side.  After analyzing my set-up I realized it may be confusing and I decided to slightly change the angle of the first set of poles. The angle made it easier for her to see the direction she needed to run and she rewarded me with a huge grin and whole body wiggles.

I hope everybody gets those magic moments from their dog.  It totally fills my heart with joy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am in Love...

...with a robot!

I don't know if you recall how frustrating I found weaving.  I will not bore you with the details of our weaving trauma; however, I was in tears and ready to walk away from agility.  Marley just couldn't weave consistently, more importantly she wouldn't weave in front of our instructor.

Our instructor told me I was making all the classic newbie mistakes and I needed to go back to the beginning with two poles.  I was ready to cry when she brings out the Manners Minder.

It has revolutionized our weave training.  It has pretty much removed me from the equation. All I have to do is play with Marley.  How awesome is that!

Within a week she was entering the two poles from anywhere on the arch.*  We now have distance and drive through the poles.  I've recently added the second set of poles and within two sessions she is driving through the poles.

Why didn't anybody tell me about this fabulous invention?   

Marley resting after our training session.

* For our non-agility friends:  The arch is the area around the two poles, excluding the front of the poles.  Think of a pie with a slice taken out.  The empty space caused by the missing slice is the front of the poles and the remaining pie is the arch.