Monday, August 07, 2017

Archie the Agility Monster

I've not put up an agility update in a while. I only trial at venues along the Oregon I-5 corridor. Even so, the AKC circuit is pretty active in Oregon so there have been plenty of opportunities for Archie and I to explore our relationship in the ring. He's now in the Excellent classes for both Standard and Jumpers. That's quite an accomplishment for a pup who is not yet 2 years old, whose first trial was in late December. In fact, he earned his first Excellent Q, in Jumpers, on Sunday. He even placed first in the 16" class--a truly amazing win.

Archie often takes a little hop at the last weave pole. It doesn't seem to slow him down.
Both of us are learning. If I am excited and tense, he is all over the place, blowing contacts and boinging over jumps. The latter is crowd pleasing to be sure but it is stylistically and energetically shit. When he starts boinging (running up to a jump then levitating over it), he is far more likely to knock bars. On Saturday, he took out entire jumps, wings and all, in his Standard run. Sigh. At least he was having a good time. 

No boinging here. Still having a good time.
If I am calm, able to give calmly voiced commands early and clearly, he runs very well indeed. I was a bit stressed on Saturday when I realized that I was finally running alongside all of the people that I usually watch in admiration and awe, and my mental state affected our runs (thus boinging, thus many knocked bars). On Sunday, I did my best to stop thinking about that. And it showed--placing first in Jumpers was our reward. Even with a short diversion away from the course to check out...I have no idea, really, it's Archie, it was his puppy terrier brain...he still beat experienced dogs of all breeds for that placement.

Laser eyes on the triple ahead.
I am learning to trust him. He is starting his runs more and more like he does in class--excited, focused. I have stopped choking up on the lead as we enter the ring, afraid that he'll run off when I remove it. I take it off as soon as the other dog is safely out of the ring then I play with him a bit before I send him to the first obstacle. No start line stay for this pup. He wants to be fired up then go go go. I am becoming much less worried that he will leave the ring during a run. That doesn't mean that he won't leave the ring, it just means I am getting less worried about it.

I love this picture. Every single muscle in his body is engaged. He's a lovely dog.

More and more, the dog that I see in class is the dog I have in the ring. 

(All the photos in this post are from a trial in July. My favorite photographer Joe Camp was there and I bought all the pics he made of Archie. Nice photos and very fair prices. Judging by the lines of people wanting to buy photos from him, I'm not the only one who thinks this.)

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