Today’s highlight: a nice long nap with all four of my dogs.
Got up super early, but it’s no longer o’dark thirty. It’s not even dark at all. Even on a super cloudy, kinda rainy day. Yes indeed, 5:15 am is disgustingly cheery and light. Headed off to run the BCBs (for the uninitiated, that’s Borderline Collie Boys) in a few runs at a NADAC trial.
Yeah, so this was supposed to be “Camm’s weekend,” but due to her presently being on the injured list, subbed out her runs. The boys were game, the handler… maybe not so much.
Despite a vat of coffee on the ride there, I was very fuzzy-brained. Did manage to be nearly perfect for Brady in his weavers run, as evidenced by his silence. (I did receive a quiet comment from him that I should have signaled a straightaway a bit sooner, but it was barely a grumble). And then jumpers happened.
So I have a curious thing with how my brain works sometimes. More often than not, if I cannot connect to a course immediately – as in it doesn’t make sense on that first walk through, then I have a hard time remembering it properly and positioning myself correctly for how to handle it with my dogs. Thankfully, that rarely happens. I’m not one to take forever walking through an agility course and memorizing it. I basically do three run-throughs. First, I walk it as the dog – something a couple of instructors have taught me to do. As I’m doing that, I take note of where the numbers are. Second walk-through, I walk as the dog again, taking more note of off-course opportunities and where the handler should be and don’t look at the numbers. Instead, I take note of the patterns of the course. On the third walk-through, I plan how I am going to handle it for my dogs and walk it in the manner in which I will run it as the handler directing my dogs through the course. Because I have different dogs with different skills and needs, sometimes I have to have as many as three different options in my head as to how I will handle a course.
All that sounds tremendously complex, and memorizing agility courses is actually great brain exercise, but most of the time I can walk a course and do all of the above in five minutes or less. I just find that for me personally, obsessing over how I’m going to handle a course does me no favors and I end up second guessing things. There have been times when I had time to walk a course once and handled the run far better than when I had multiple walk-throughs and plenty of time to analyze and plan. There’s also something that my Canadian friends have named as a “pirate run.” That’s when you don’t walk a course at all and run it. I rarely do it as Brady is a dog that needs (and deserves) some amount of precision (or I hear it … or get bitten). I’m proud to say though that I have done a few pirate runs – with Youke and Brady, and they went spectacularly. My favorite was when I got to an event much later than planned, saw they were running Brady’s height division and quickly asked a friend for a run-down of the course. I then watched one dog run it, asked the gate steward to move me and Brady down to the last dog of the height division, and ran to get him. We arrived, breathless, at the gate for our run with barely a second to spare and freakin’ nailed it. Still not sure how we accomplished that. The stars were aligned I guess.
The stars were not aligned today.
Back to me being fuzzy-brained. The jumpers course today seemed a bit off. I had a hard time reading the course numbers due to the glare from the overhead light and the material of the markers. While I ended up quickly assessing most of it, there was one section that even on my third walk-through I kept going in the wrong direction. I ended up walking it a fourth time. Then I headed to the car and practiced in my head how the course ran. I did that several times. I call it “the invisible dance.” You see many handlers at agility trials doing “the invisible dance.” It’s marked by silent lips moving, hand flailing and turning in small circles in the middle of an aisle or a walking path to the vehicles.
Youke was up first. He was moving beautifully through the course, sailing with ease and stretched out over the jumps. And then I forgot where we were going.
Tre embarrassing. I rarely forget a course, but I did today. Poor Youke. He is so incredibly forgiving and adores me so much. No argument, not even confusion. He trusts me so much. So I just made a bunch of crap up and fled the course with him.
Luckily, today’s jumpers course was in NADAC’s “double-run” format, where the team gets to run the exact same course for a second round, and can still qualify.
As I headed back to the car with Youke to get Brady, feeling terrible as Youke had been so beautiful on course up until my fugue state, I told myself that could absolutely not happen with Brady.
Brady is not forgiving. Brady would be mad. Brady would bite me.
And guess what? Got my freakin’ act together and ran the course perfectly with Brady. In the space of less than 10 minutes I went from Super Crappy Brain-Dead Handler to Super Awesome Knows-Her-Stuff Handler.
So I figured I’d get to redeem myself on Youke’s second jumpers run.
Yeah, not so much.
I forgot the fucking course AGAIN. Worse yet, I forgot it in the exact same fucking spot. And the very worse thing of all, when I recovered, and pointed Youke in the right direction, I sent him straight into a jump standard. Youke, the sweetest, most accommodating dog of all, went where I sent him and nailed a jump standard, knocking it and the whole jump assembly over.
I was horrified.
Luckily, he was fine and was not hurt. I think in all truth he barely noticed it. I stopped for a second, played with him and then we completed the course.
I’d say I was humiliated, but in all honesty, my dogs, and my own dumbassery, taught me about humility a long time ago.
So Youke and I went to play Ball for a while.
I remembered the course with Brady, but was late signaling a few times and he ended up knocking a few bars. At least I didn’t forget the course again.
Since those were the only runs I’d entered for today, left with the boys just as the rain started pouring down.
A client had asked me to walk her two dogs today, so I dropped the boys off at home, checked on the girls and then went on a nice leisurely walk with two favorite dogs that are not my own.
But I couldn’t shake the fuzzy-brained feeling despite all that. Therefore a nap was in order.
If there’s one thing that my dogs do well, it is taking naps.
I announced to them while I was upstairs changing clothes that it was “time for a nap.” Youke raced downstairs to secure his nap spot on the couch. Camm, who is not supposed to be racing anywhere, raced downstairs to assume her post with a chew bone on the floor next to the couch. Brady, already downstairs, curled up in his nap spot beside the couch on the floor as well. Jasmine, who thinks naps should last a maximum of 30 minutes, accompanied me downstairs, then jumped up beside Youke on the couch.
I arranged a fuzzy coverlet over myself, leaving plenty of fuzzy softness for Youke to share and didn’t even pretend I was going to read a book for a while. We ended up napping for a couple of hours. Even Jasmine, who usually gets restless and often downright rude after an hour, was quiet today.
Maybe I wasn’t the only one that was fuzzy-brained today.