Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tuesday Night Agility - Chances

At our Tuesday night agility class Ike and I got a taste of what it is like working with distance requirements, and it was hard! Katrin set up a course similar to what we would encounter in a Chances class. Since I am TERRIBLE at explaining things - I have cribbed from the NADAC site:

Replaces Gamblers. A short (10-15 obstacle) course featuring as many as three Distance, Direction, and Discrimination (DD&D) challenges that must be accomplished in order to qualify. All three types of DD&D challenges are required in Elite; Open dogs are presented with two of the challenges, and Novice dogs will face only one. The judge selects which challenges to present to the Open and Novice teams.

Chances is currently judged pass/fail with a max course time of 40 sec, and there are no placements. Starting in 2007, Chances will be judged and timed just like any other NADAC course, and placements will be offered.

Chances was briefly named “Wild Card” before the class achieved its final form in early 2006. The name was changed to distinguish it from a dissimilar class of the same name offered by another agility venue. The name “Chances” was chosen by NADAC exhibitors in posthumous honor of Amacris Outside Chance, a much beloved member of the NADAC family.

Our Tuesday night course was set-up with three jumps leading into a curved tunnel followed by the SeeSaw, a pinwheel (with an additional jump set-up as a minor discrimination), back to the tunnel (but entering the opposite end requiring a switch in dog lead and handler directionals), 12 weave poles, and a final jump. Katrin had set up tape from the tunnel to the weaves that ranged between 4 - 5 feet in distance away from the obstacle. We did not have an official discrimination test since that would have required having the dog walk out, but Katrin mentioned she might do that next week.

Ike had some trouble doing the SeeSaw without me right by his side, but he was confident enough to get about half-way up/through (after repeated attempts) before hopping off. Eventually I moved past the tape as Ike reached the fulcrum and heavily reward him. Then Katrin had me put him in a "wait" or "moving stay" and move back outside the tape.

We moved onto the pinwheel and I felt like Ike was actually fairly confident about that obstacle series. I had brought Ike's pink kitty and used it at the Pinwheel. Initially Ike was a bit fouled up because of handler mistakes (big surprise!); I just wasn't sure how he would react to having his kitty there - if it would have any effect, etc. so my timing was off. He did not outright play with the kitty, but he did pounce on it and he was definitely excited that the kitty was there (yay!!).

With both the SeeSaw and Pinwheel I was moving too far ahead of Ike. I have to find a balance between staying moving and waiting for Ike. Whenever I moved too far ahead of Ike he blew off the obstacle; Katrin pointed this out. She asked me to stop just prior to the obstacle I want him to do - when I did that he took the obstacle fairly easily. I remember this happening with the tunnel initially. We have a lot to practice. The good news is it gives me hope! And Ike didn't blow by the weave poles entry. Yippee!

This was a tough class for me because distance is one of the major issues Ike and I have, but also because I am a perfectionist and can be (very) impatient at times. I need to take a step back and look at how remarkable it is the Ike was willing to go as far as he did on the SeeSaw without me babying him and how well he did with the Pinwheel and weaves.

So, yay Ike! He continues to move forward and make me very proud.

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