Saturday, August 20, 2011

"What a summer!" Part 1:

In which Hoagie visits his happy place and doesn't invite Mommy...

Holy patootie!  What a summer.  Full of dog related ups and downs!  I think because I have so much to tell (and because I have a slightly sub-par attention span) I will split this up into a couple posts.  I'll start with the not-so-great news.

Sad Hoagie doesn't like bad news.
In my last post mentioned the COAST ASC trial in Cayucus.  This was our very first Rally-O trial, and well...Hoagie and I bombed.  Hoagie essentially shut down.  After lots of thought, I believe there were two main reasons behind our double NQ (two non-qualifying scores).

First, I think the trial environment was way over Hoagie's current distraction threshold.  We were out on a working ranch, with a herding trial going on in the next field over.  In addition, Hoagie had the spectacular "luck" of having two cows walk right by the trial ring just as we started our first run.  *awesome*  In addition, the coastal wind through the little valley we were in was incredible; like sent-a-soft-crate-with-cattle-dog-inside-tumbling-across-the-field, incredible.  That poor dog may never trust his soft-crate again. 

Evil crate is evil.
The wind was so bad that the judges started taking down their shade tent during my second run to prevent it from blowing away.  The environment was definitely not ideal for a first trial; however I really don't think that was the main issue.

Unfortunately, I think the main problem was that I was way too stressed out, and Hoagie picked up on that.  I couldn't get him to pay attention, on- or off-course.  Poor guy wouldn't even look me in the eye, and I could tell he was feelin' my nerves.  It really would seem that Hoagie said to himself: "Wow, Mom is super stressed about something.  I guess there is something to be nervous about, so I am going to send lots of calming signals to everyone and everything."  He averted his eyes, sniffed the ground, and simply sat down mid-course and wouldn't move.

Between the environment and my stress, Hoagie demonstrated the doggie equivalent of: "screw this b.s., too much drama."

Exhibit A (please excuse the hiney picture.)

I tried everything to get him to pay attention, or even move, but he wasn't having any of it.  Thankfully the judge was really nice about it and told me that I got the persistence award.  I kept my cool, gently encouraged Hoagie, and never once pulled on his leash.  All my friends competing, even my Rally-O instructor, Cindy, said that I did the best I could, given the circumstances.  It just wasn't Hoagie's day.

So, moral of the story: I know what went wrong, I know what we need to work on, and I know that in the end, it was an educational day.  I won't pretend that I wasn't really disappointed.  That's probably why it took me so long to get up the nerve to write about the trial.  I learned a lot form the experience however, and I got to watch some great dogs compete.

Congrats to Cindy Decker who got High In Trial in the morning trial with Slick, and in the afternoon trial with Twill.  A very talented trainer with some spectacular dogs!

Yay Slick and Twill!
So, I shall save the good news for next post, and leave you with a picture Cindy took of one of the rare moments that Hoagie was actually paying attention.  At least he looked good in the pictures...

"Oh shoot, someone's taking pictures.  I better look like I'm paying attention."
*Hoagie: Selective Attention Pro*