I Want a Do Over !

Jake, Lil and I attended our first trial in Colorado last weekend, hosted by “Dog Agility of the Pikes Peak Region” (DAPPR).  The site was gorgeous and everyone was so nice and  friendly, it made for a very fun weekend.

I think this might be the first time I attended a trial with “real” grass vs. what we call grass in the NE.. which is more like cut grass-like weeds.    Plus this was the thickest grass I’ve even seen.  Lil had to really work to plow through it, which slowed her down quite a bit (as evidenced by her YPS) but that didn’t seem to dampen her spirits too much.

Lil ran a whopping 14 courses, and attempted 4 bonus boxes.  No Bonus Qs but she ran very well all three days Q-ing 9 of 10 non-bonus runs.

Jake also had a great weekend.  He Q-ed 6 out of 9 runs but more importantly his start line stays were impeccable.    I had really let them slide over the past couple of years (for no good reason) and decided a few months ago to get Jake’s SLS back on track.

Sharon Nelson demonstrated a fantastic Start Line Stay game at her Distance Seminar at Yellowstone Dog Sports in July which I now play here and there at home and last weekend I played the game before each of Jake’s runs and it worked brilliantly.  I had no question that he would stay and when released he blasted off the start line.

Now onto the main topic of this post:  Why I want a do over.   I screwed up and said OVER LEFT when I should have said OVER GO ON and blew what might have been a successful Bonus Run with Lil.  Here is my excuse :)….  I was mentally and physically exhausted.  Its been a long time since I ran 2 dogs at a 3 day trial.. up to 9 runs a day to boot.  Plus the site was very large so all the treks to my tent, RV, bathrooms, ribbon tent, and 2 rings took its toll on me.

But actually the “do over” I wish I had was not related to the actual run… although I would love to run that course again someday to see if we could have gotten the bonus from behind that tunnel.  But my bigger wish for a do over was based on a short conversation I had immediately following that run.

A fellow competitor came up to tell me that her instructor encourages her students NOT to use verbal directionals (left and right) because people make mistakes with them.   My response (while having a post-run party with Lil) was “I rarely screw them up.”  What I wished I had said was:  “I rarely screw them up….but when I do, my dog doesn’t know I screwed up because I follow through as though everything went perfectly well.  Granted I was a total bumbling idiot with my directionals in the opening sequence of this particular run, but Lil didn’t seem bothered by even this extreme level of confusion on my part, as evidenced by her confidence and speed… and this was the 2nd to the last run on day 3 so I think we were both tired.

(above) the video that shows my bumbling idiot moment in the opener.  At 0:40 seconds, I redeem myself re: verbal skills and Lil does a great job with what I considered to be the trickiest part of the course.. an interesting serpentine-like distance challenge.

Even with an occasional mistake using LEFT and RIGHT, I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me and my dogs.. not that I’m suggesting everyone should use LEFT and RIGHT.   I personally love that there are as many different ways of handling as there are different types of handlers!


4 thoughts on “I Want a Do Over !

  1. We LOVE left and right. I think the more cues, the better. And yes, I have called a tunnel the tire and messed up left and right (very infrequently). I have also called a directional too soon, and was very proud of my dogs for responding immediately! It’s all good

    • I agree Pam. Its all good as long as we reward our dogs for following our cues.. even when we give the wrong cue! On another note, I just fixed the link so it is of the correct run… the one I really screwed up! 🙂 😦

  2. I just giggle when I think r/l. When I taught kids and hunters they begged me just to number the fences and NEVER use right/left. Wrong way into the oxer every time! Totally right/left delexic

    • Sheila, I didn’t think I could keep LEFT and RIGHT straight in my mind either and resisted using them. Trust me when I say VERBAL SKILLS ARE NOT MY FORTE.. but once I committed to training MYSELF to using LEFT and RIGHT in training sessions, I realized I could keep them straight, especially when my dogs were facing the same direction I was facing. Plus if I don’t know which direction it is for MY DOG, I say HERE or TURN instead of using R or L.

      One thing that really helped with R and L was practicing using them while watching other dogs running the course before I ran it (if we were not the first team running, which we often are one day of each trial due to not many mini-dogs). I’d mutter all my verbals under my breathe so I didn’t appear to be crazy 🙂 and see if the words were coming out correctly and if the timing of my verbals were early enough to be useful to my dog!

      I think the hardest directionals to name “on the fly” are when the dog is running towards the handler so the dog’s RIGHT is the handler’s LEFT and vice versa. But if I practice when walking the course (and even better if I can practice while watching a few other dogs run first) my verbals fly out of my mouth correctly most of the time.

      Excuse my long response to your comment Sheila but I think there are a lot of handlers who think they cannot use LEFT and RIGHT and I feel if I can learn how to do it and get it right most of the time I think most anyone can. 🙂

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