Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tika in Advanced vs. Boost in Advanced

SUMMARY: When feeling discouraged about one's babydog, take two databases and call me in the morning.

After this weekend, with 10 runs in Advanced with Boost and exactly one Q out of that, I started feeling a bit blue. This is, after all, Boost's third trial in Advanced, with a TOTAL of 24 Advanced runs, with only TWO Qs to show for it. How pathetic is that? I mean, Tika blasted through Advanced from her first Advanced leg to her last in 5 trials encompassing a mere 18 total Advanced runs, 10 of which were Qs.

Furthermore, Jake finished his Advanced title (back in 1998) in only 4 trials, 26 runs, with 8 Qs.

But wait, said a lurking suspicion. And since anything lurking is bound to be worth paying attention to, I double-checked my database.

Boost completed her novice title in under 4 trials (the first of those we entered only one run a day and I concentrated on obstacles, not Qs). She Qed in 9 of 25 runs and they happened to be the right ones to complete that AD (Agility Dog) title.

Jake's Novice life I know nothing about; he had his AD already when I got him. And although he did his Advanced title in only 4 trials, it spanned 9 months, so there was a lot of training and non-USDAA competition around those trials.

But Tika--now, Tika--yes, a different story. After a couple of lovely runs at her first couple of trials, including placing in the ribbons in the Grand Prix (! -- something that we have duplicated only once or twice in the 30+ GPs since), she suddenly realized that she wasn't in Kansas any more (Kansas being a controlled training situation) and that the yellow brick road appealed far more than sticking to the tried and true. She flew off her contacts and we repeated them (in NADAC) or took her off the course. She flew off her start-line without staying and we took her off the course. She ran out of the ring to go see old friends, or squirrels, or hmmm not sure what that is but worth investigating. She grabbed my feet midcourse and there was no distracting her (something she had never done in a year of training, never, not even once), not with bitter apple or trying to get her to Down (oblivious) or feigning the screaming agony of death or anything. We Eed and we Eed and we Eed, and on the runs where we didn't, she knocked bars or I mishandled her for offcourses or whatever.

Tika was in USDAA Novice for 66 runs at 15 events spanning a year and a half. No wonder that, when we finally convinced her to do the job I thought I had trained her to do, she whipped through Advanced like it wasn't even there.

Sooooo I guess Boost is doing her apprenticeship in Advanced rather than in Novice. And it has been only 2 months since she moved up from Novice. She's not being a bad girl (like certain Aussieprobablies whose name needn't be mentioned yet again), but every little flaw or missing element in our training shows up in capital letters because of her speed.

I'll try to remember that. While all of her siblings are competing in Masters and we're still hangin' in the intermediate world of Advanced. (Well, OK, Bette's still in Advanced with us at the moment, but she's far more consistent, as shown by their 4+ Qs--they Qed in Grand Prix, too-- this weekend.)

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