Yesterday was no fun. Both ways to the drive to bumfuck egypt was miserable. Looking across the vast prairie towards the mountains, home seemed so far away. It was 76 degrees when I pulled away from that metal agility building at 5:30. My phone was at 15%. With no charger is the car (palm face) I was left with my thoughts to accompany me on the miserable drive home.
Front crosses were the subject of the workshop. Oh ya, if only I’d had a dog to run. Instead both of my dogs worked on remedial stuff. WTF?! Backchaining Edie. Stupid. So, so stupid. She was hot. She was miserable. She runs better first thing in the morning. I knew I didn’t have my dog. In retrospect, I still don’t know what I should have done. Asked to be excused from our floorwork?? It’s not that it hurt her, but it sure discouraged me and felt a bit disrespectful to Edie’s knowledge. Maybe I should have asked to run Loretta…like Megan had me do when Zopa was overwhelmed. At least I could have experienced front cross timing.
Speaking of Zopa…it sucked, totally sucked that the start line was literally less than 6′ from the seating area. And that Zopa was first on the line, so people were still coming and going through the door in that area. And that we weren’t suppose to set up crates inside because of limited space. Miserable. We struggled through, working remedial stuff. Loretta suggested I keep Zopa inside so she could acclimate. At least that gave me permission to bring in a crate. Too bad it was so hot up against that metal wall. 😦 She was miserable. I should have moved her to the other wall…perhaps behind the dogwalk. But then I would have been on the course.
On the miserable drive home I contemplated why my dogs performed so badly when less than two weeks ago we had that stellar weekend of all clean runs three days in a row. What was the difference? A new place? Surely that contributed, but Edie and Zopa ran great in Lincoln at a facility they were unfamiliar with. Something Melissa said years ago, the summer she finished Elliot’s Championship entered my mind. She stopped wheeling him ringside in a crate and plopping him into the ring and instead tiptoed her way into the environment. She walked him inside a few feet and immediately back outside, continuing to do that over about a half hour, each time going further and further into the building. It worked.
We’ve had a ritual at every trial which included Zopa and Tanner from the get-go. We have our ‘space’, defined by the mat, the crates, the backpack, my chair. It’s our place within the environment they’ll be running. We get there. We hang out. I spend lots of time sitting on the mat playing games with them. We walk around. We play games. We did all those things in Lincoln, giving the dogs lots of time to acclimate to their environment.
Given that the Lhasa Apso is, by nature, a watch dog it seems that the very real possibility of the inability to perform yesterday was the lack of opportunity to acclimate. In all fairness Loretta recognized that Zopa needed to acclimate. In all fairness Loretta says she’s a dog trainer first, an agility trainer second. Next time I think about spending $110 for a workshop, if I’m not able to provide ritual and acclimation in the work space I’ll either pass or audit.