Day 1 – Beachside! Going to a Beachside show is rather like coming home to a group of old friends. It’s both fun and comfortable running, which is what I needed after a difficult week with Merlin. I was only running Sparrow, but she kept me busy and we had a great time testing our skills. I now know that the two big areas I need to work on in our training is pull-ins and rear crossing tunnels. But more of that later!
Novice Agility – 1st
Our first course was rather a tester. The biggest challenge was pulling Sparrow through jumps 1 and 3 when going from 12 to 13. It was nasty because my natural line would have put me straight into jump 3, so I had to either layer 3 (which I didn’t think would work) or squeeze through the gap and risk pushing Sparrow around 1 again. This happened to a lot of dogs and it was a near miss with Sparrow. Sparrow also had a mishap with the seesaw. The line from the tunnel to the seesaw was not straight, Sparrow came out to the right of the seesaw and I commanded her late which meant she had to readjust her footing and took the seesaw at an angle. Being a fast dog she found herself slipping off the contact because of her line and, despite doing her best to hold on, including crouching down, she came off. She did however perform her ‘stop’ just on the ground. I couldn’t fault her for trying her hardest and it was my late command that had hampered her. I had wanted to front cross while she was on the seesaw, instead I did it while she was on the ground, which meant I could take her into the off end of the tunnel. Her final straight run to the finish made me smile as she went straight and avoided the traps of jumps to her side.
Novice Jumping – Eliminated
I liked this course, but it had a few traps, the first was pulling the dog off what was a straight run to the tunnel – almost a near miss with Sparrow. Then I had to pull her between jumps and the near tunnel entrance to reach the far end. Actually it was a cracking run until the second to last jump which was a backside. I got her round the jump but failed to move, giving her nowhere to go Sparrow back jumped! Oops!
Novice Double Dogwalk – Eliminated
Sparrow had a bit of a naughty moment in this one! The course was three jumps followed by a right turn up the dogwalk. In the far corner of the course was a tunnel. I never expected Sparrow to drive up to that tunnel, but that is what she did! Of course, as soon as we were eliminated we ran the course correctly. Some good running RCs, but I did not execute my rear crosses well at all. I also suspect that Sparrow remembered the earlier agility course as she turned very determinedly right after the first DW, which was exactly what she had to do in the first agility. Never mind, all good practice.
Novice Helter Skelter – 1st
I love a good helter skelter, and this was just that. A big loop, followed by a smaller loop and then turn back on yourself to finish. I fussed over the wing wrap because Sparrow was back jumping them at Dog Vegas. I got a frustrated bark from Sparrow in response. Otherwise I can’t fault this run.
Day 2 of my weekend was spent at RVA, part of the Just Dogs Live show in Peterborough. This was a KC show and I would have liked a few clears, but it was not meant to be.
Our first run was a C1-4 jumping, sadly the video didn’t come out as it was possibly one of our best runs of the day. It involved two tunnel rear crosses. Sparrow hates these, though I am not sure why. I suspect it is because she loses track of me and doesn’t know where I have gone. I snuck in the first rear cross and she came out looking for me on the wrong side and I had to call her name. The second rear cross on the same tunnel she was having none of it. She would go in and spin and come out. I ended up having to reset her so we ran the tunnel without a rear cross. This mishap was going to follow us through the rest of the day.
Small C1-4 Jumping – Eliminated
The course had 9 weaves. I so rarely do these that I don’t often train them. The problem with 9 instead of 6 or 12 weaves, is that the dog comes out on the right side, rather than the left. Not only can this seem odd to the handler, but it seems to confuse Sparrow who will always pull out one pole early when there is 9 so she ends up on the left side. Could this be how she has patterned the weaves? I am not sure, but she was not alone.
Sparrow had still not forgiven me for that rear cross earlier and when I sent her into a straight tunnel, with no intention of rear crossing, she doubted me and turned around and came back out. I didn’t bother to resend her but carried on. Things then started to fall apart, Sparrow was arguing with me and questioning my commands and the more she did that, the more I began to laugh and fail to her handle her well. It was pretty much a disaster, but I came out of the ring chuckling to myself. Gotta love that spaniel!
G4-5 Agility – 10f?
I went straight from jumping to the agility course. I thought this was a nice course and I was hoping we would go well, but Sparrow spotted the seesaw and very near eliminated us on a straight run. She made it into the tunnel, then I was too close to the weaves and she fluffed the entry. We carried on and she went up the DW fast, but came off the side and then argued with me over the tunnel again. So I asked her to come to me and sit, gave her a moment, then carried on. Actually, this seemed to settle us both and the rest of the course was ok.
C1-7 Brillo Bounce Qualifier – 5f?
We had barely caught our breath from the agility and had to run our next class. In hindsight I think resting Sparrow in the car for half an hour or so would have served us better. As it was she came out at pole 10 of the weaves (I think she spotted my dad filming us). We then lost a bit of our flow, I put myself in a horrible place for the tunnel and she spun. I eventually got her in the tunnel and the end wasn’t so bad.
While this weekend wasn’t perfect, my baby girl certainly tried her heart out for me. On Saturday I felt we really connected, on Sunday we did not. I did wonder if being in an environment she had only been to once before rather blew Sparrow’s mind. It was a big, unfamiliar show and Sparrow did not show her usual confidence, especially after the tunnel rear cross fiasco. However, we did some brilliant stuff and we are always learning. I told her she was amazing after each course, no matter how badly it went.
Meanwhile, Swift met some of her family members, including her half-brother and aunt, while Merlin got to patrol the trade stands with everyone remarking on how handsome he is. And, even if we failed to get clears on Sunday, I had a great time and came home with a smile on my face, knowing my dogs had had a fab weekend.
Which is surely what matters most?