I shall describe a brain fart for you, since you probably haven't seen it. It entails Seri, after a random obstacle such as a see-saw or tunnel, hooking a turn away from me (or simply running straight when I've turned), running forward, screaming at the top of her lungs while I yell back "lie down!" or "come!!!", and after about 30-50 feet of running/screaming, she stops and comes running back (still screaming). She often doesn't take any obstacles when she does this, just runs off yelling. I'm not sure exactly what she's thinking when this happens, but I suspect it's something like "WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!", and not much of "gee, I think this is where I'm supposed to go next". She's done this at quite a few trials - not all of them, and she often stays on course, so it's not an E, but I'd feel awfully silly if I went to Tryouts and she did that, and even sillier if we went to Europe and she did that.
So I will continue to work with her. She doesn't do that in training, although she still is not quite up to the level of coursework that Drifter can do - her "engine" is too large and she drives forward a little to easily sometimes, not to mention the restrictions on my handling due to her needing help with deceleration *before* the bar - but working her on difficult courses seems to keep her brain better engaged. This is partially why I'm thinking lower jumps may help - she really sails through the air at 26", so perhaps less airtime means less time to lose her marbles? I'm not sure. We shall see. By the time winter rolls around, after a complete year of trialing in Tournaments and Excellent B, I will have a better idea whether Seri's head is in the game or not. But she's a frustrating dog, and just goes to show no matter how talented the trainer or handler, a lot of success in agility depends on the right dog, not just physically, but also mentally.
Naughty baby Seri tugging on my couch cover
For now we continue to rehab her shoulder jam. Yesterday Ria said it is looking better, but considering she put that same shoulder out over the winter on the ice, and now has tweaked/jammed it, we will be concocting a regimen to strengthen the rotator cuff just in case.