I scheduled a lesson with Erin for today about a month ago - prior to any weird Ike foot issues. I really didn't want to cancel the lesson because, 1. I missed our last lesson due to my work being insane, and 2. I can only swing seeing Erin once a month due to scheduling and $. So I e-mailed Erin and asked if Carmen could take Ike's spot. We saw Erin at the trial this weekend and she said yes (!) Carmen could take Ike's spot.
It was a real rush to get to the lesson on time. I left work, picked up Carmie and drove to Seekonk, all in an hour (I work in Newton and Carmen lives in Canton). Impressive. Carmie was squeaking quite a bit when we got there!
Erin had us practice the seesaw a few times since it would sound different at Canine Mastery than at the barn. First she lifted the teeter end and dropped it while I treated Carmen at the bang. Then I asked Carmen to do the seesaw. Carmen ran right by it. Okay. I lured her onto the teeter slowly. The thing I love about Carmen is that she might have HUGE reservations, but once you convince her to do something she leaves all her reservations behind. I lured her once, after that it was like it was HER teeter. She has a really nice teeter performance - lots of drive and her wait is MUCH improved.
Next we did the A-frame because Carmen has really only seen Katrin's A-frame which has no slats and rubber matting versus the Canine Mastery A-frame (slats). Carmen scrambled about two-thirds of the way up and got stuck. After that she really wasn't willing to commit to it. Erin lowered the A-Frame slightly and Carmen flew over it. I will NOT make a habit of this (lowering the A-frame) with Carmen. She has really poor muscle definition at the moment and I think she just doesn't have the strength in her rear to muscle up the A-frame without a lot of steam and confidence.
The course was a typical twisty-to-me AKC-style course. I really had to move it to get ahead of Carmen. Erin and I spoke about how important it will be for me to have lateral distance with Carmen because she can move and also how I can help increase Carmen's speed to obstacles by driving forward myself.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I forgot to include this when I wrote this last night. I was having a lot of difficulty remembering where on earth I was going during a straight tunnel to curved tunnel sequence. One entrance of the tunnel was obstacle #9 and the other end was obstacle # 4. Erin suggested I think about the curved tunnel as two jumps and see if that helped (it did, somewhat).
Erin commented on how I often start to do blind crosses and catch myself. Blind Cross: A handler performs a blind cross when he changes sides by crossing in front of the dog's path with his back turned to the dog as the side change occurs. I didn't notice this until she called it out. It would be one thing if I was trying to do a blind cross, but quite another that I am accidentally doing them. This came up because I turned slightly away from Carmen and the jump and Carmen came off the jump. Carmen is actively seeking information from me and she takes it from minute (and not so minute) body movement.
Carmen was such a good girlie - she has never been to any sort of indoor ring. I was really impressed that she was able to handle an hour lesson in a totally new environment with someone she has met once for 5 minutes. Carmen bounces back from stress and uncertainty in a way that makes me very excited about her potential as a performance dog. I am also excited because I have to become a better handler in order to work with her successfully. Becoming a better handler will benefit Ike so much, too.
It is interesting how complacent one can become without even realizing it. One of the reasons I love training so much is because it is a reminder that there are many ways to work a problem, many perspectives - your job as your dog's partner is to find the way that works best for both of you. I am excited about the new directions my relationships with both Carmen and Ike are going.
3 days ago