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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why am I faster?

When I was very young, I was frustrated. Wild, crazy, manic - you name it.

In June of 2005, I started agility training. At my first lesson I took the dog walk and jumps like I had been doing them for years. Mum knew this was the sport for me and the very thing that would curb my frustration, give me a job to do, and make my life more balanced.

I started competing in agility in December 2005, then had my second trial in March of 2006. I started out in the Spring pretty fast, but got super slow during the following Summer. On one run, I even laid down at the start line for a belly rub. Mum started to think I really didn't want to do agility. Huh?

I could have gotten slow because of a number of factors that may have included:
  • Adopting Gracie and adding another dog to the house may have confused me,
  • It got hot,
  • Mum was working so hard at treating me like the alpha when Gracie came that she ended up babying me,
  • Mum used the high pitched voice to encourage me to do behaviors or run through a course,
  • I was a young newbie and had to get used to the whole idea of competing and being confident on the agility course,
  • or, fill in the blank......
Then in the Fall of 2006, I started getting faster again, but why? Mum's been thinking a lot about that, and started making a list that includes:
  • I got used to having Gracie around,
  • It got cooler,
  • Mum realized that babying me wasn't good for me and put a stop to it,
  • Mum stopped putting up with my reluctance to 'perform'; perform commands that she requested and 'perform' with speed on the course,
  • Mum started using a gruff, growly, fun voice with me when we played, requested behaviors, or revved me up to run,
  • or, fill in the blank......
In late Fall of 2006 I got injured (broken metacarpal) and had to be on leash rest pretty much all winter. We kept up with the items listed above that got me faster in the Fall of 2006. Then this past April (2007) I came back from my injury faster than ever. But why? Was it because:
  • I got some time off and just couldn't wait to run again?
  • Mum put me through a regimented conditioning program after my injury last Winter to build my muscle mass?
  • I was put on a new food with a bit higher protein content (Fromm's) and is more nutritionally sound than my previous food (Wellness)?
  • Mum is allowing me to work more independently on the course and trusting me more?
  • or, fill in the blank......
Well, whatever it is, we're glad it's here. But, we think there are things to be learned as part of this process. Throughout the entire time, Mum watched my behavior very closely - what made me sad, happy, nervous, anxious, driven, etc. And came up with plans every step of the way to modify our training, handling and her behavior towards me to get to more speed and more drive.

I have to say it's worked so far, but as I'm sure you all know - things are always changing and we will always have to adapt as we go - keeping in mind the goals; happy Johann, fast Johann and driven Johann - because as a herding breed that is what I'm all about and it's what makes me a happier and more balanced dog.

3 comments:

  1. Oh you dogs. :) You can be such a mystery to us! I'm glad you are getting faster again. My boy Levi, the collie, is just not a fast dog and sometimes barely makes preferred times. But after I went to collie nationals and saw other collies run, I learned that he is a typical collie. :) Collies are just not fast on the agility course!

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  2. I have a friend that runs two collies - Grace and Rose, not fast, but not slow and real steady! I love to watch them run!

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  3. Too cool! :) I don't see collies run very often, there are only a couple around here in training, none running yet.

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