This last weekend was Jai and my first trial together. The venue was the Helsley Ranch, the trial The Big Freeze. I believe it was Jai's first ever. We ran novice.
Last year I ran Pat in Pro-Novice because his open dog status put us there. I never really learned to run Pat successfully through a PN course at a trial, but he taught me alot. He is where I really started seeing, experiencing, and beginning to understand the basics of what makes for a good dog and handler team, and how different these good dogs can be; I learned from him timing, and patience, and the power of subtlety … and that when a male dog looks too long at you, ardently, adoringly….leaning against your leg…you should move. Fast. Stop standing still and for the love of Grainfree God…do not give him one final head pat.
Jai is a very different dog, but there are also similarities. She, like Pat, is sensitive and really wants to do the Right Thing. She is a very good dog. Some days when we work everything flows (DD calls it 'floating' when your dog and you work together in such smooth tandem like this) and it all seems too easy.
It is. It's what I call 'bloating'…in honor of my Expectations and Unrealistic mating and producing a child. A fat lazy child who looks like Unrealistic's mother. At least at this point in my training.
It's interesting how we often do not see the obvious in our dogs…I think Jai is sensitive and needs gentle soft handling. Each time I work her, she is better with me, and most of the time she takes my flanks, almost always a stop….P*trick suggested that Almost isn't good enough in any sense, nor is a gentle 'tsk tsk' (or 'God Damn' at the post); that, infact, I am a hippie and need to either get chijuajuas and dress them in civil war reinactment outfits or start issuing some consequences for The Blow Off. (I might be paraphrasing).
Patrick suggested that I need to make sure that I am communicating CLEARLY what I want and that she takes my corrections. Jai is letting her own clever opinion override some of my riskier, in her mind, calls. For instance, the Away whistle…the Away Screech and the Away Pleading had no discernable effect on Jai this weekend. It was as if she were a running (speedily) endorsement for Come Bye, inc.(tm) I expect to see shelves of Come Bye Kibble with her big-eared earnest face on the front at my local petfood store. In the fuzzy out of focus background will be me flailing with my right hand. A post. The words NOW WITH LAMB!! in bold clear font where the panels would be.
We missed most every panel. That was my fault. I overflanked and our run began to look like pole weaving.
I told P*trick that I thought that all trials should have a novice class. The good open handlers make trialing look so easy; handlers like me make it look realistic.
He suggested that I start aiming for stuff in practice. This is precisely what I intend to do. I might also buy a little canon off of ebay. And a General's hat, size hideous small.