Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy day at our house

Karma competed in her first agility trial today.  The world of agility competition is a complex thing, with many different sponsoring organizations (AKC, North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC), U.S. Dog Agility Association, Canine Performance Events), and with many different varieties of events at each competition at many different levels (i.e. courses vary in complexity/trickiness).  Not all of the organizations allow mixed breeds to compete.  Karma competed in a NADAC event at the least complex level (Novice).  She competed in two events today (regular and "touch-and-go") and will compete in another event tomorrow morning.  This event was indoors.

The whole experience was intensely stimulating for her:  dogs everywhere, her first exposure to Astroturf, strangers in the ring doing the judging, her fear of the unknown, the inexplicable (to her) schedule of sitting in a crate, then competing, then going back in the crate, then competing again.  Her doggy brain had a lot to process.

It's not at all uncommon for dogs new to competition to completely wig out and just zoom around the course paying no attention to the obstacles or their handler.  I had very low expectations going in, but Karma did amazingly well in her first run.  She ran fast and clean through the first 14 of the 16 obstacles (A-frame, tunnels, wickets that she's never seen before), but then she came upon the dog walk and froze.  The dogwalk is an elevated level plank with inclined planks on either end.  She's never had any issue with the dogwalk in practice.  I suspect that from her vantage point as she was getting on, it looked like a teeter-totter, something she hasn't completely conquered yet.  In class, she gets a chance to see all the equipment as we get warmed up before class, so she can tell where the teeter is and where the dogwalk is.

So she took two steps onto the dogwalk, got scared and jumped off.  That's a disqualification.  Also, at some point when I was trying to coax her back onto the dogwalk, I reached out to her and ruffled her neck, not to physically maneuver her onto the walk, but just to give her some encouragement.  That too, though, is a disqualification; there is no touching your dog during a run.  It's a habit I'll have to break.

I was very pleased with her performance for the first time out.  Lots of more experienced dogs ran around completely out of control.

We sat around for a couple hours before the next event, and by that time Karma was pretty much mentally exhausted.  She ran her second run poorly, running around the jumps and getting distracted by smells on the ground.

We'll compete in one more event tomorrow if I can get her out of bed in the morning.  She is one tired pup now.

No comments: