Yesterday I went to the Ontario Regional Agility trials to watch some of the competition. It’s fun to watch others doing agility and seeing in action the techniques I am trying to learn. This last few months we have been doing a lot of gridwork. I didn’t really understand the purpose at first, but now I see a really big difference in how Hannah and I work together as a team, and also how we navigate around jumps. Watching the jumpers course that was on while we were there made it very obvious how handy this is all going to come in!
The vendor’s booths of course are always fun. Last year I bought a Compact Fire Bungee tug from Crash Test Toys and it is still going strong even with Hannah’s rip-your-arm-out-of-its-socket tugging. This year I wanted to get a bungee handle with no toy on the end so I can attach it to my holee roller to it, which is Mira’s favourite toy. Mira has never been very confident at tugging, but will tug on the hollee roller. Attaching it to a bungee I expect will make this more fun for both of us.
Speaking of Mira, I have to brag about how she did yesterday. I brought both her and Hannah to the trial for socialization purposes. I knew it would be relatively quiet late afternoon (spectators are not supposed to bring dogs), but still have enough going on to be worth going. Last year I brought the dogs and Mira was an absolute nightmare. She alarm barked at every dog as if it was her last chance at survival, and lunged and barked non-stop until she pretty much collapsed from exhaustion.
I have only brought her to one other trial since, so it’s not like I’ve worked at desensitizing her. Yet she could not have been more different yesterday than if I had exchanged dogs. With how dramatically she has changed, I feel that’s almost what I’ve done. Seriously, if you knew Mira last summer you would not think this was the same dog. At the trial yesterday she looked around at the other dogs, and then lay down at my feet, bored. Granted she did bark at a pair of giant long-haired German Shepherds, but otherwise she was pretty disinterested in everything that was going on around her. Hannah was actually more of a pain because she was trying to greet everyone and drag me to every dog or person who’s eye she caught. Mira, on the other hand, was just mellow and bored. And I was thrilled.
I know I keep saying this, but I am so pleased with how much Mira has changed. She’s even turned on to sheep – which reminds me, I need to post some old entries I wrote while farm-sitting two weeks ago. I will never know if the change in Mira comes from her own maturity, the homeopathic treatment I have given her, or the chiropractic adjustments. Oh, and regarding that, the chiropractor said she can no longer feel anything wrong with Mira, who apparently held her last adjustment for the 3 months between appointments. What a far cry from her diagnosis last November where she said she expected Mira would never be able to even run like a normal dog!
Tomorrow I leave for my first sheepdog trial with Hannah. Well, my first sheepdog trial ever. First trial of any sort for that matter. I am doing my best to not think about it so that I don’t get nervous. Everyone tells me that novice-novice is not that hard, and that everyone expects it to be a train wreck so no pressure. All I want to do is walk out on that field and see how Hannah and I do. We have been training very hard lately, and I’ve been feeling much more confident about working sheep. Unfortunately we haven’t been out in over a week now, so that will work against us. But I plan to give Hannah a good run before we go to the post to help keep her head cool. I’ll post with the details when I get back. Wish us luck!