This weekend, Phoenix and I are off to Waterloo, Iowa, for an obedience trial. Jamie will go along for the ride. Connor will stay home and bark at things that are not there. (Or maybe they are there and I just can't see them. Yikes.)
This weekend's venue is going to be a lot different than the lovely, quiet ICDOC trial where Nix made his Novice debut a couple of weeks ago. It's all-breed conformation, rally and obedience under one roof. It's a small show but it will still be busy and noisy, a definite change in environment. I was getting kind of wigged out about this, then remembered we'd shown in Pre-Novice at the Des Moines cluster last fall and he did just fine. Now THAT was a chaotic show site, not to mention the peregrine falcon who had flown into the building via the massive overhead doors and spent the whole weekend swooping around in the rafters, making the chihuahua handlers nervous.
After a super nice start in Novice, we've spent the last two weeks working on heel position and the Maligator and I are in better agreement now about where it is. I suspect we will continue to negotiate on this subject for some time yet. We've had a couple of good workouts at the local outlet mall (their sidewalks are awesome and love their reflective windows), the park and one shopping center, plus at several local training buildings. Speed transitions continue to be a high priority. About turns have improved and recalls are faster, although admittedly not the finished product I really want yet.
Am I being too demanding about a Novice dog's performance? No. It's all about criteria. I know what I want. Whether or not I get it this weekend isn't really the point. I know it will come with more training and trialing experience. But if I don't establish criteria now and insist on it in training, I'll find myself down the road in Utility with a dog who drops his head on the slow or bumps (okay, this is Phoenix, CRASHES) me on the left turns and I'll think, "This is making me crazy. Why didn't I fix it back in Novice?" THANK YOU to Tammy E. and Susan Garret for making me realize how important criteria is!
No training tonight, just ball in the front yard and a nice long walk after supper. It's daylight until 8 p.m., well, kinda, sorta, if you know where to look. After 1/2 inch of rain Monday, the Farmer is back in the field. Had a mishap with an anhydrous rig yesterday that probably would have called out a HAZMAT team and evacuated the area if it had happened in town. Fortunately, no one got hurt. Soil temps are still too cold for planting.
I got a new toy today! The CD of malinois clip art I ordered from www.argostar.com. arrived. She doesn't have every breed but the ones she has are very nice, check it out.