Sport foundation, 2-minute routine (part 1)

In an effort to prepare for the TDAA Petit Prix in Wisconsin this October, I’ve implemented a few changes in lifestyle.

I’ve been swimming 3-4 times a week for 90 minutes (about 2 miles of swimming each time). My knee is feeling really strong and I’ve lost some weight.

But the most important routine is yet to be established. I need to start setting aside time each day to prepare Blue for the national event, and renew our partnership which was begun 2 years ago.

I plan to begin with the sport foundation 2-Minute trainers again. Blue has most of the skills but I figure it won’t hurt to begin with foundation work again.

Additionally we’ve begun working the girls through Susan Garrett’s 2×2 weave training. for the Petit Prix we want to add some area rugs to duplicate the footing dogs will experience at the nationals.

Additionally (!) I need to take Blue’s pause table “on the road” so she can work through her fear issues with men. These issues manifest on the pause table at trials, mostly.

Additionally (!!) I need to begin adding weight-bearing exercises for my knees. I want to work Blue dog jump chutes, pairing her jump conditioning with little wind-sprints for me.  I’ll begin with a straight line of jumps and progress to a large figure 8 so I can add distance jumping for Blue and front crosses for me.

Sound like over-kill?  Here’s some background information which will explain my mild obsession with Blue’s performance at this year’s Petit Prix.

When Bud created TDAA I was running Australian Shepherd’s exclusively. When I first heard the plan for TDAA I must admit I was a little offended. When Bud asked if I’d be interested in participating my response was, “help out an organization that excludes my dogs?”  Later I got excited about the games approach, the titling paths, and the whole concept of a little-dog venue.

At the time we had a trial group (at Dogwood Training Center) and we were holding meetings to prepare for upcoming trials. For our first TDAA trial we had ZERO entries.  I was shocked!  I said, “I can’t believe all of you with little dogs haven’t entered our trial!  If I had a dog eligible I’d have entered already!!”

Bud immediately said, “You can run Bogie.”  From that point on, whenever we had a TDAA trial I entered Bogie, Bud’s clever and biddable sheltie. We had a blast in TDAA, winning the first Petit Prix in the 16″ division by .29 seconds over Kathy Duffy’s Bobbie.

When it came time for Bogie to retire I figured I’d better keep my eyes pealed for MY teacup dog. Since I work with rescue and was considering volunteering at the local shelters, I figured a dog would fall into my lap some day. I wasn’t interested in seeking out puppies, but just had a mission in the back of my mind.

We moved to Country Dream (March 1) and engaged in a frenzied preparation for our first camp (April 31). We had the meadow bulldozed, the building put up, the cottages gutted and rehabbed, the guestrooms set-up, and I was able to find everything in the kitchen. <g>

On the last day of camp Sue Sternberg and I decided to visit the local shelters so she could arrange to become a transfer site for dogs from our area.

At the Parkersburg shelter she was greeted like a rock star. The staff knew of Sue, supported her efforts, and were excited about working with her. At the Marietta shelter the manager hid in her office, refusing to meet with Sue, until she got on her cell phone and called the staff of the Parkersburg shelter.

She had just received an e-hate-mail suggesting that Sue Sternberg is a dog-hater, a dog-killer, a dog-stealer, etc.  “Don’t let this woman into your shelter!” the e-mail warned. Of course, the folks in Parkersburg told the Marietta manager to ignore that e-mail and talk with Sue.

In the meantime, Sue and I had gotten out of my truck and both locked in on a dog in an outside kennel. She was the strangest looking dog either of us had ever seen. “Spook” had been turned in at the shelter just that day (I found out later) and clearly was expecting her family to come get her.  She was about 12″ tall (and about 30″ long, but that didn’t matter to me <g>).

Sue and I met with the shelter manager.  We returned to camp. For 2 days I thought about that little dog.

And, on that Saturday, I drove to the shelter and adopted Spook.  I decided her new name would be Blue, and that I’d see if she liked to train. If she did that would be great. If she didn’t that would be okay, too.

Thus began my journey with Blue.

In a recent e-mail to a teacup list (unfortunately folks rarely edit themselves on e-mail lists and often don’t understand why anyone would be offended by their words or tone — it’s something I try to remember when I write) several people indicated that it might be “unfair” for some of us to practice the ’09 Petit Prix games ahead of time, or work through strategies at the warm-up workshops in Wisconsin.

I thought about how agility organizations work diligently to “level the playing field” and how there is absolutely no way to make the playing field level or to make it fair, unless each and every exhibitor has their own category and only plays against their own performance, and in an environment devoid of people and distractions.

When one handler is judged against another there are always injustices. Add to that equation the wide variety of dogs and doggie histories, and the injustices mount up pretty quickly.

Unless and until there is a separate class at dog agility trials for middle-aged, overweight handlers with dogs rescued from the shelter after 9 months of being terrorized by a teenage boy — it will be unfair to compare our performance to that of other teams.

Fortunately for all of us, this un-leveled playing field allows us to make countless excuses for our shortcomings or failures. “My dog is afraid of men.”  “My knees are killing me.”  “The photographer scared my dog.”  “For some reason my dog doesn’t like the timing system.”  And on and on and on ….

My intention is to arrive at the ’09 Petit Prix as prepared as I can be, as fit as I can be, and to apply my skills and knowledge as completely as possible to each run.

In the back of my mind, however, is the desire for Blue to place in her division this year. More on that later …

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2 Responses to “Sport foundation, 2-minute routine (part 1)”

  1. Michelle Says:

    You are so right Marsha; there is no way that at any given competition all players (dogs and handlers) all start completely even. Anyone attending with that mindset has already a disadvantage. We all know the games to be played; we all develop our own training schedules and we all develop our own relationships with our teammates. The champion team will be the one that “clicks” the best, has practiced working as a team on a variety of skills and understands the rules of each game. The championship team will also be the team willing to risk pushing the edge and not running conservatively. I applaud your efforts with Blue and hopefully will be in Racine to watch you run. Good Luck!

  2. Bonnie Schuld Says:

    Say Marsha if you get a trial for OLD 74 yr old handlers and over weight and bad knees and running rescue dogs let me know. I’ll be second to sign up right after you. Bonnie

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