29 May 2011

Deep Thoughts (without Jack Handy)

First, before I mull things too boringly, I am working on building a website to promote myself and brag on my dogs. Link is in the list already. Yesterday I had trouble getting it to update properly, and so the schedule page and the linke for Strafe's page are currently not working. I will get on that soon.

Second. Mulling. A rambling post about Seri follows:
We are lucky in this country to have so much choice about what height our dogs can jump. For instance, Seri can jump 20" or 26" in AKC, or 22" or 26" in USDAA. Most of her career I've spent at 26", because with her insane athleticism, I have had hopes that she would be a World Team candidate. Last year she strained her wrist, which took 4+ months to heal. That wrist now "pops" if flexed, but doesn't usually cause her pain. Sometimes her "good" wrist does, but it's still rare. This year she jammed her shoulder, 6 weeks rehab, and will need a good few months to really strengthen it before she will be ready to be successful at 26" again. We trialed this weekend at 26", but only 2 runs per day. Her shoulder held up, but she hit several bars each day. She did improve after the first run (where she hit THREE bars), only hitting one per run after that, and in her usual difficult places where I know she'll have trouble. But I am at a bit of a mental crossroads with Seri. Not only did she hit a few bars, but she still has those moments where her brain simply seems to take its leave and run off for a vacation for about 5 seconds. She jumped off the table early in both standard runs, which she normally doesn't do. She turned away from me and started weaving in jumpers due to no handling cues that I gave. She plowed through every single bar where I was front crossing, or facing her - which is normal, sadly. She did do several blind crosses really nicely, on straighter lines than she's done in trials before. She did hold her stays, she did stop on her dogwalk. She also stopped on her seesaw. But what I'm really wondering, is if she really will ever be a World Team dog, and if not, why don't I just drop her to 20"/22" where she will almost certainly be less likely to drop bars. The single trial I ran her at 20" last fall when she was coming back from her wrist rehab, she qualified in JWW two days in a row. That's never happened at 26". And what it really all comes down to is this: I want to do world team. Me. But Seri may not be the dog. I may have to wait till 2013 to attend Tryouts again. I guess I will have to wait and see, but i really hate that attitude - I really, really prefer to have my next year or so planned out, at least in a general fashion, as far as the goals for each dog. Kiba, due to her size and jumping, has already been designated a "Nationals only" dog, Drifter is "International" but no longer at 26", and Strafe is obviously too young. Seri was, in my mind, classified as "Future International". But perhaps she should be in Kiba's class instead? I think the thing that really gets to me is that I am sure that on actual, international-style courses, she would not be having nearly as much trouble with bar knocking. But our local regular AKC trials have pinwheels and straight lines all over the place, and almost always, the spacing is tight. Usually between 15-18 feet. I think this is why she's better at USDAA Tournaments; they tend to have larger spacing, followed by interesting segments that require her attention. She can do those. It's the plain old lines/pinwheels that are too close together that get her every time. Regardless, though, she still has impulse control issues mid-course. I suspect they may be better if I can handle somewhat more aggressively, keeping her focus, which lower heights may allow. But it's impossible to know for sure. At what point does one adjust high goals with a dog? When the dog tells you it's not for them? When physical issues prevent it? When you feel like you're just not getting the consistency? I do believe any dog taken on World Team SHOULD be consistent. Seri is NOT. Perhaps a year at lower heights might improve this? Impossible to know. I do know I'd like to take her to Reno for AKC Nationals, at any height, and she is certainly fast enough to be competitive in 20"...

Sorry for the ramblings, just putting it all in writing. I think every handler should try to do what's best with their dog, for their dog, and at some point, the handler's goals and the dog's ability might not match up. It's recognizing that point that is difficult.

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