Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The big dance gets started

Beginning this weekend, Phoenix has a very full dance card.

This weekend we are auditing the Bridget Carlson seminar at 4RK9s in Cedar Rapids. I opted not to take a working spot for several reasons. First, I had a working spot when Bridget was here a couple of years (3?) ago. I got some great ideas and enjoyed it very much.

But Phoenix is not the young, green, novice baby dog he was then. He and I are starting to come together as a team. What works for us (and what doesn’t) has crystallized. Or at least become considerably less muddy. I don’t want to throw a bunch of new techniques at him when the two of us are finally starting to regain some of the trust and confidence we lost last year. Right now, I want to stick with the methods I’m comfortable with.

And trying new things is pretty much what you need to be willing to do if you take a working spot at a seminar - there’s no sense in having a working spot if you aren’t going to get out on the floor and try some different stuff. I’m certainly not against trying new things but at this stage in the game, I can learn quite a bit by sitting on my behind and watching people work their dogs - it’s a very objective perspective that is hard to get when you’re the one out there on the floor, not the one watching. A couple of friends are bringing puppies and I’m looking forward to seeing what Bridget has them doing.

I have no doubt I’ll come away with new ideas to blend into my own training approach. Plus this club always has really good food and I plan to do some quick training with Phoenix during breaks (hopefully while everyone else is rushing the food table.) This summer I’ve got a working spot at anther obedience seminar (Denise Fenzi) and am definitely looking forward to getting some input on a few things.

The weekend of March 31/April 1, we’re back in the obedience ring at DeWitt. (Is it really a good idea to go to an obedience trial on April Fool’s Day?) The show site is a complete 180 degree turn from the noisy chaos of the last time we showed, back in mid-February. It’s a two-ring event in a school gymnasium. I’ve shown there for years and it frequently has the church-hush going on. I’m curious to see what, if any, effect this has on us as a team.

My club, the Iowa City Dog Obedience Club, has its trials April 6, 7 and 8 at Amana. We’re entered two days and I’ll spend one day stewarding. I’m pretty sure Phoenix isn’t a three-day dog at this point. Heck, I’m not sure I’m a three-day handler, either.

We’ll have one day to recover from the ICDOC weekend before we hit the road for Purina Farms near St. Louis, Mo., and the ABMC national specialty: one day of travel, two days of agility, one day off (with a temperament test) and one day of obedience. We’ll drive home after the obedience judging.

When we get home, I have resisted multiple efforts to get me to enter a semi-local obedience trial the following weekend. No. No! NOOOOO! I’m pretty sure all parties involved are going to want a weekend off to decompress. Multiple weekends on the road in a row are usually not as much fun in reality as they might look on paper.

But we’ll be back in the obedience ring at Marshalltown April 28 and 29, followed by another weekend off and then more obedience at Rock Island, Ill. This latter show was a tough decision because there’s a lovely agility trial that same weekend in the opposite direction.

I remember back in the day when there was only one agility trial a month and it was usually in another state. And it was random draw so you mailed your entry and desperately hoped you’d make the draw. Now, there are dozens of agility trials within daily driving distance of our house year around AND agility and obedience trials are starting to fall on the same weekend. Oh, the conflict!

But I know my dogs have always shown best if I enter multiple weekends of the same venue vs bouncing back and forth from obedience to agility and back again. Training and showing in different disciplines is fun but it's very easy to let the coming weekend's venue dictate what you train in the preceding week and this often makes it hard to make any reasonable progress in either one.

So we're going to concentrate on obedience this spring and see where it takes us. We'll still be training for agility, too, and hopefully can address a few things without the pressure of any trials in the immediate future.

Whew. What do people who don't train and show dogs do with their time?


  1. That is a full dance card indeed!! Sounds like a blast!!!

    Famke and I will see you this weekend at the Bridget Carlsen seminar! Very excited about it. :)

  2. Those people clean house and have immaculate lawns and flower beds. Don't you feel sorry for them?

  3. Good luck! I've been trading my training time for running time.

  4. Well I hope you and Phoenix both have a new pair of dancing shoes. Will see you this week-end with a puppy (sort of). I'm anxious because I have no clue what to expect. Ryelee is my heeling dog, Sophie, not so much so need to make things fun and interesting for Nike. I've told her she needs to use her 'inside voice' this week-end. Hope she listened. I'll see you at the food table!