2-minute dog trainer – brave new world

It’s been 3 weeks since my last blog.  My bad.

Tempest and I had a 7-week stretch of travel and trialing, and we made great strides at improving our communication. I also felt like we were living out of suitcases. My weekly check-list included “unpack car, refresh dog food, repack car.”  It was a little tiring, and very exhilarating.

As a minor matter, we completed our stint of AKC trialing with two titles (Novice Standard and Novice FAST), a Q in Novice JWW, 2 Qs in Open Standard, and a Q in Open FAST.

I had resolved that we’d get back to our AKC trialing in the spring, after a winter of building confidence with jumps, and developing the skills to work technical jump sequences (our weakness).

Bud Houston, my husband and instructor, initiated a series of technical jump handling class lesson plans (Nancy Gye’s Alphabet Drills – Clean Run magazines March 2005 through October 2006 — book and CD available from www.cleanrun.com).

We adjusted our class offerings for Fall and Winter to reflect our shifting emphasis, from writing and teaching to trialing and focusing on our own dogs (and Bud’s “Gather and Go” handling system).

We had a weekend off, due to our entries arriving too late for a 3-day trial, and we were looking forward to a little decompression after all the traveling. I was wanting a quiet weekend for Tempest, as it was the full moon and 4 weeks since his last seizure. Then an old friend of ours passed away, leaving a USDAA club in Oregon in a lurch and in need of a masters judge. Bud headed off to Oregon and I was left home alone.

Bud’s trip was followed by 3 days of advanced agility training on Nancy Gye’s highly technical jumping sequences, with Tempest keeping the majority of bars up and surprising me with his capacity to understand and respond to technical handling. I was literally left slack-jawed, saying “where’d he learn that?”

Well, of course, he’s a dog and he follows handler motion, and all I really need to do is learn and perfect the timing he needs from me.

Having missed just one weekend of travel, having Tempest remain in excellent health, and having conquered (for the most part)these marvelous complex training sequences, I just couldn’t stay home any longer.  Our return to AKC trialing will occur in September instead of March, while we continue to prepare for Tempest’s debut in USDAA in late September.

At the same time, we’re getting our house in order. Literally. We’re doing a spring cleaning in the log home. I’m a proponent of use-it-or-lose-it, so a few plastic bags of accumulated junk have made their way to the curb.

And we’re continuing to nibble away at TDAA’s system improvements while keeping up with the day-to-day work coming in.

All the time I’m working on the house and on TDAA registrations, memberships, trial applications, and events calendar, I have this excitement and obsession on the back burner.

I completely understand something now that I didn’t understand 12-10-8-years ago — the obsession with dog agility trialing.

For the first time in my life I am blessed with a dog who loves the sport, who can go from calm and relaxed in his crate to 100% on the start line, and who is physically capable of supporting our participation.

Having done all of Tempest’s training I have been able to build my own agility dog. And I’m absolutely loving this blessing at my side.

I do not take him for granted.  His love of the sport and ability to ignore all distractions on the field makes running him a total pleasure. Nature AND nurture, not nature VERSUS nurture, have created a perfect storm, my Tempest.

I know my future will hold another dog with issues. But, for now and for a few years, I’m praying to continue enjoying the blessing of Tempest.

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