Sunday, September 21, 2008

Praise the dog, slap the handler

I can not remember a weekend when Ian and I were 0 for 4 ... until this weekend. And even worse, of all the stupid things Ian has done (like falling off the dogwalk three weeks ago), I have to say I likely caused every one of the errors. I'm much more forgiving of my dog than myself.

Saturday in Standard I thought he was committed to a tunnel and I stood up to get into position for his exit; and he saw the chute out of the corner of his eye and turned to question if he was right. Handler error and his only error on course. We kissed 9 points goodbye there.

Saturday's JWW run I said tunnel the first time when he was in the air at the jump before the tunnel. I said tunnel two more times with increasing volume as he was headed towards an off course jump and screamed tunnel so loud the entire building heard it right before he sailed over the off course jump beside the tunnel. Then he took the tunnel and finished the course. We lost 4 points on that one even with the extra jump. Even worse, on the way to the crate a phrase ran through my mind: "The verbal is the least reliable cue you can give your dog." Oh yeah. I run Ian silently with only encouragement and no obstacle verbals other than weave and tunnel. I have a feeling my body was pointed directly at the off course jump he was locked on. Bad handler, with help from the dog.

This morning's Standard run was the worst handler error yet. I wanted to get a lead out from the table. I knew it was risky. I knew a twitch from me would pull him off the table. He had nailed all the hard parts including a demotivating start of pinwheel to weaves, rear cross to the dogwalk (he least favorite approach) and the judge standing 3 ft from the teeter on the opposite side as me and he still did the teeter. I heard "...2 and 1 and" from the judge and I see Ian lean forward on the table AND I JUST STOOD THERE AND LET HIM COME OFF! I could have turned and at least kept him on the table and only lost a couple of seconds as he re-sat and the count ended! Of course, that was his only mistake and most everyone thought we Q'd. Only 3 dogs Q'd out of all the 24 inch dogs and Ian would have placed. UGH!!! We lost 9 points on that run. BAD, BAD handler; very good dog!

And to top off our weekend, Ian ran a flawless, fast JWW course and dropped the bar on the third jump from the end. Can I tell you he's dropped maybe 8 bars in his entire career! This judge was wheeling very tight, and most of the fast dogs were earning at least 2 fewer points under her. Ian ran that course in 34.02 seconds and the SCT was 39. Even though Kim saw the jump from the perfect profile angle and said he took off way too early (which was his error), I had just said "GOOD boy" with an emphasis on the "good" and I think he thought I was pushing for speed. I was just so thrilled with the run, that I was trying to keep him going. UGH!!! I think we were even on that one.

So to the shock of most of my friends who couldn't believe the consistent team of Deb and Ian was 0 for 4, we packed up and came home. Connor had a great weekend, and Ian had some very, very pretty runs that he deserved to Q on had it not been for me. I pulled a hip muscle Saturday during one of my runs, and my back spasmed this morning, so I could barely walk when I got out the of van once we were home. Some "Icy Hot," three Advil and a 20 minute nap later, I was ready to groom dogs, work Devon in agility, do laundry and make dinner. While my back and hip are still killing me, at least moving around seemed to help. Now I'm headed to bed to forget about Ian's weekend.

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