It turns out that if you’re massively overworked and you don’t back off before an agility trial, you just may not be at your best.
At the point this becomes evident, the best you can do is make sure the dogs have as much fun as possible.
Belle ran standard agility this past weekend (the one with all the climb-over/tipping obstacles, as opposed to the one with mostly jumping obstacles). She hasn’t done this for a year, since she got her PAX2 title; she’s just been running jumpers in semi-retirement, as she approaches twelve years old.
But to my great surprise, when the AKC handed out PACH titles in July, Belle was pretty darned close to earning her PACH2, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a little dog who was partially paralyzed at age five and has spent the years since then being benched for flares as often as she was able to run–especially when she, along with all the other PACH-eligible dogs, didn’t get credit for her placement multipliers as the MACH-class dogs running during that time period did.
(Gee, no, this doesn’t crisp my cookies much, why do you ask?)
Not to mention, she was also #2 lifetime ranked Cardigan Welsh Corgi in her competition class.
So I said, “Belle, if you’re going to run, let’s run Standard classes and go for the PACH2. If you don’t think that’s a keen idea, then maybe it’s truly time to retire.”
Belle on Friday’s Standard Course: “Wheeee! This is FUN! Giggle!”
In fact, it was so much fun that she forgot a decade of teeter training and missed her tipping point, and had a rather ugly stumble complete with face plant. But I cheered, and she kept right on running. “Wow, didn’t seem to phase her!” said those who saw. Well, I know Belle–and Belle feels it’s really important to be PERFECT.
Belle on Saturday’s Standard Course: “Wheee here I co–oh wait, is that the teeter*? Oh! I was NOT PERFECT on the teeter yesterday! What if it happens again! I don’t know what to do! Mommy! I’m melllllting!”
Me to Judge: “Thank you very much, we’re done!”
Me to Belle: *kisshead kisshead huggy* “You did that one jump PERFECT! Let’s go make you feel special.”
(two hours later, jumpers course)
Belle: Wheee! I’m still special!!
*Actually, it was the dog walk. But they go up at the same angle, and her self-avowed imperfection of the previous day made it too scary to risk.
And Sunday? I didn’t enter her for both courses back when I was making my master plan. I wanted to give her an easy day.
Well, it turns out that if you’re massively overworked and you don’t back off before an agility trial, by day three of running three dogs, you get a nuclear-intensity migraine. Under those circumstances, the difficulty of memorizing a course, running it accurately, and–most importantly–making your dog feel special along the way…well, something’s gonna go. It also turns out that Belle–
Belle: HEE HEE HEE GIGGLE!
Belle may not have the speed she had as a young person, but she still knows how to grin. And I have it on video–along with that last second at the end where Belle, as she is wont when she’s especially exuberant and her human doesn’t strongly support the final jumps, takes off early and lands on top of the final jump.
What the video doesn’t show is that she circled around after that jump and leaped right into my arms, just as she did in days of old, completely full of Being Special.
Belle running, me lurching. That funny bit starting at 18 seconds is what it looks like when a short little dog goes through weave poles that are obscured by the jump between the poles and camera.
The blooper is a bit hidden by the tunnel, but watch her take-off at 45 seconds…and the distance to the jump standards…. I wish we had the leap-to-arms, but the camera did a swooping whoopsie at that point, which I have mercifully cut…