Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Practice today!

There is nothing better than starting off your birthday with some agility practice! And that's just what Gracie and I did this morning.

Gracie ran most of the hour, because Mum wanted to give me a little break from agility this week since we've been trialing so much. And next week with two seminars and regionals, I'm gonna be busy.

Gracie's training is really coming along. A few weeks ago we needed to join classes, since our private hour was just the day before trials and Mum doesn't like us doing too much practice the day before. The first few times Gracie was in classes she wasn't focused at all, and she was kind of slow for her usual. Gracie also got that virus that's been going around and just didn't feel good.

But the past two weeks she's done really, really well. We think there are a few reasons for that...
  • She's over the virus and feels loads better.
  • Gracie is stubborn and tries all the time to get away with stuff with Mum. So Mum has taken a more demanding stance with the Gracester lately and it's really working. She doesn't get by with any little thing, anymore; and always has to do what Mum asks of her. And she has to be with Mum, all the time...either laying by her side when Mum is working, or playing with Mum in the backyard, or having Mum feed her dinner, or relaxing on the couch when we watch a little TV.
  • Also Mum and Gracie have been doing little sessions of agility a lot more. 10 minutes in the morning with weaves, 10 minutes later in the day with jumps and sends to the tunnel...other days they just go out and play chase, tug, or whatever Mum decides. They race to targets and work on quick releases. They do really short sessions about 2-3 times per day and have loads of fun. And Gracie's big reward is chasing the water from the hose - her favorite.
  • Mum's goal is for Gracie to get in her stubborn head that she and Mum are a team, whether it's with agility, playing, or just hanging with the pack. Running agility is not an individual sport...it's a team sport!
Over the past two weeks, Gracie has come to love, love, love being around Mum...she follows her everywhere, always wants to know what she's doing - just like I have always done.

So then...here's a bit about how much better Gracie is at agility practice because of all this. (Well, at least we think these are why.)
  • If Gracie does get distracted and tries to go see something else on the course, Mum quickly calls her and she's been coming right back.
  • She is way speedier running the sequences now.
  • Only once or twice in the past two weeks has Gracie not bolted off the startline to run with Mum.
  • Gracie is working more at a distance, and Mum is now able to get her timing down better with Gracie to let her know what to do earlier.
  • Gracie wants to do her weaves so fast she's missing some poles in the middle...she's hitting her shoulders on the poles too and it's confusing her. But she's starting to really get the weaves, and the entrance. It will take her some time to figure out how to move her body the speed she wants and still get the poles, Mum thinks. And Mum is willing to take the time for her to get it.
  • Gracie's biggest run off place in a course was after a long stretch of jumps (or other obstacles) and then she had to turn, like in an arc. Gracie would just keep going straight. But now that she and Mum are communicating better now. Mum can hang back when the turn is coming, and say...Grace, Grace, Grace...while Mum turns her body and Gracie has been taking the arc of jumps like a pro. This is a huge breakthrough with the Gracester.
Now that Mum and Gracie are communicating better, and Gracie is running at training more like she would at trails (speedy, speedy, speedy), Mum can hopefully get some good practice done with Gracie now. And teach her some more advanced stuff! Yeah!

So what did I get to do at agility practice? I got to watch them do all these great sequences. I was wacko wild to run myself watching all the other pups. So then Mum set some bars in the other ring, and I barked at her the entire time - it's my turn, it's my turn. She took me over there to run, and what did I do? I sniffed the ground (just like last weekend!). Oh, Mum didn't like that at all, picked me right up and took me back to where I was waiting before. Then she took Gracie over there to run. Can you believe it?

Well, I got the clue right away. So after they ran, Mum came over and got me, and not only was I speedy, speedy, speedy, I got a really nice gamble that included a jump, tunnel, then a serpentine, then I ran a long series of jumps into a pinwheel. I almost always hate pinwheels, they can be slow, but I was speedy throughout itl, and went right into the weaves, bop, bop, bopping along! Mum was impressed!

Then, after everyone in the class started to disperse, our Trainer said we could do a whole course. So we did! I was fast, accurate, made all my contacts, did the weaves fast, and made it through just in time before we had a huge downpour! What fun!

5 comments:

Morgan in Pittsburgh said...

Oh,geez Johann. My moms gonna read this. Im starting to feel some changes coming....

e said...

Hi Johann
Nice to meet you.
We came over from Charlie's blog.

My name is Fei and my ma is Eve.
We live in Tokyo for the moment.
Fei likes agility training too but seeing that we live here; it's hard to get to big open spaces.
I think when we leave; that might be more possible.

Come visit sometime.

Fei and her human, E

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

Wow, you must be very proud of Gracie and all the training you've done with her. I'm glad she's coming along so well with agility. It sounds like it takes a great deal of dedication to the sport.

By the way, if I had gotten a girl puppy when Levi came along I was going to name it Gracie. That's my absolute, favorite girl name.

Levi's mom

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Hi Johann! Sounds like Gracie is really progressing in her training! Good for her! Your mum's idea of keeping Gracie with her all the time seems like a great one. My mom did that with me when I was much younger, but maybe she needs to do it again. I still have a tendency to blow her off. Does your mum use a leash to keep Gracie nearby?
Sorry that you didn't get away with sniffing the ground in practice - that's something I love to do too - your mum is too smart for you!!

Have a good weekend!

Ricky

Pacco de Mongrel said...

gracie sounds really great to us..

but for my barkday, i would have prefer a good rest and lotsa eating... me pig