Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goals for Ty and Me, and TKC Today

I showed Ty at the Toledo KC trial today in Open B and Utility B. We were just 1 for 4 at the October Marshbanks trials held at my building - so much for home court advantage! - but we hadn't done a huge amount of obedience after training field from July through early October. The Marshbanks trials did give me a read on the work we had undertaken on all the band-aided exercises from July (let's see, we were having issues with Signals, articles, broad jump, drop on recall, and stays... yeah, we were a mess), and we've been working pretty consistently on those weaker exercises in the past month. Ty is closing in on 7 years old (next month), and my goals have been rather vague with her. Sure, an OTCh. would be a lovely accomplishment with her, but I know what it takes, and I'm not sure I'm willing to work hard enough with her to get there, plus she can be such a worrier, great one day and lousy the next. We've also NQ'ed rather a lot this year. I've just spent time catching up Ty's career totals workbook. With our Q rate at 50%  for 2011 - we've Q'ed in Utility 9 times in 16 tries and 4 times in Open in 10 tries - there is a lot of room for improvement. My most concrete goal has been to finish her OM this winter. Given all the weak exercises, a UDX has seemed a bit far fetched. Before today, Ty had 1 UDX leg, and 81 OM points, and 3 OTCh points, all earned 1 point at a time for 3rds or 4ths.

Ty's Signal Exercise has been an incredibly difficult one for her to master. I did what in retrospect was too much free shaping with Ty related to lying down when she was younger, and she tends to revert to throwing various behaviors at me when we work Signals - rolling on a hip, crossing her front paws, popping into a sit or a stand, putting her chin on the floor, dropping... My long-time student and friend, Raissa Hinman, gave me some excellent advice a few days ago when we were training. She suggested I do a lot of random treating for Ty doing nothing. Well, not quite nothing. But for holding her focus on me and waiting patiently after responding to a signal, instead of guessing what might earn her the next treat. I've tended to focus on the fact that she has failed the sit signal so many times in the ring as her NOT doing something. I think all the guessing has been terribly stressful for her. Ty is very devoted to me, but I tend to lose my patience with her fast. Training in field this past summer without the pressure of soon-in-the-future competitions helped my patience a lot, and was something of an "Ah-HA!" moment for me.

At the Marshbanks trials, Ty went down on the sit stay day 1 before I was completely out of sight, and at about 1 1/2 minutes on day 2. She showed me that weekend that doing stays a couple of times a week in class was not adequate. One would think, given my lousy history with stays, I would devote more time to them. Since Sonic the new puppy has joined the family (that's another post or three), she gets one more meal a day than the other dogs, so Gryff and Ty have to do stays while Sonic eats first thing in the morning. This has led to a few going down on the sit stay, since Ty is usually rather sleepy at that time.

We have been working much harder on the Open exercises in the past month than perhaps ever in her life, and I was actually feeling pretty optimistic about our changes for a Q.

I guess my biggest goal for the coming months is to qualify more often, since we can't get anywhere towards any of the on-beyond-UD titles without that. Reducing my nit picking and working more on attitude and 'do it right the first try' is a bit of a switch for me, but today showed me that I seem to be on a better track. Ty earned a 4th place in Utility B with a 192.5, good for 9 OM points and 1 OTCh. point. To me, she had an unremarkable indivual portion in Open B. I was just trying to concentrate on passing and keeping her attitude up. And of course there were stays to be gotten through. We did order V, which meant the down stay first. By golly, she qualified! When the class was over, I did a bit of warm up, just in case. We were indeed called in for a run off, 1st of 3 teams. I'm not crazy about Ty's heeling, because her position is quite different than my previous Flat-Coats. Parts of the runoff were good, but parts were not. I watched only part of the 2nd teams runoff, but know they are a great team. The 3rd team called in had won Utility today with a very high score, so I didn't even watch hers at all, figuring it would be nice. When the judge was getting ready to announce the scores, he said there were a lot of high scores that didn't place. Then said the 3-way runoff was for 3rd. I thought to myself, "Well, dang, we are 5th." I was ecstatic to earn 4th place with our hightest EVER obedience score with a 198.5. We were the only non-Tanbark Golden Retriever in the placements :-). So we picked up 15 more OM points, bringing her total to 105, just over half way to the 200 points needed.

I almost don't want to go back tomorrow. Almost. My big goal for tomorrow? Don't let today's successes mess with my plan. First, we must qualify.

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