Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Two-Month Countdown

Yesterday I dropped Pongu's very first CPE agility trial entry in the mail, and today the mail carrier came and took it away, so I can't break into the office mailbox and steal it back anymore. No chance for second thoughts!

So we are scheduled to have our Official Agility Trial Debut on Saturday, January 24, at Bella Vista. We're entered in two Standard runs and one Colors run. I have no idea what a "Colors run" actually is, other than what I've gleaned from reading my friends' blog posts on the topic, but honestly my comprehension is not that great so I still have pretty much no clue what that means on the ground. I guess I'll find out.

I'm not expecting greatness. Bella Vista is (I think?) a good choice for our agility debut, since Pongu has trialed there many times for Rally and he's got a mostly-good performance record at that venue. Far from flawless, but about as good as it ever gets for my wildly inconsistent, anxiety-raddled crazydog. I'm told that the judge is a good one for newbies, too, so that helps. And we're only doing three runs, and I tried to pick the easier course options, so that ought to help as well.

But we've only been training in agility since... August maybe? ...and that means it will be just about six months from the time that Pongu and I took our first class in this sport until our first attempt at trialing. Even given that he's got some experience in other sports, and even allowing for the relative ease of CPE Level 1, that's not nearly long enough for me to have any reasonable expectation that we'll Q.

I still want to try it, though. I want to see how Pongu does in a new environment (which this will be for him -- he's been there for Rally, but he's never been there when the place was set up for agility), with the noise and adrenaline of an agility trial surrounding him, on unfamiliar equipment for the first time.

If he can handle it, I think we should have an okay-ish chance of maybe qualifying in one out of our three runs. If I stay close to Pongu and give him a whole lot of support going over each obstacle and never veer away until he's over each jump and through each contact zone, then in two months, we might have a chance.

Or we might not! I have no idea! Both of us are green as green can be. Seasick frogs, leprechaun Packers fans, you get the idea. Pongu's never done more than about 6 to 8 obstacles in sequence, and most of his fake course practice has been at the Zoom Room, where the obstacles are significantly smaller than regulation size and packed much more tightly together.


I know we're not really ready. I don't think we'll be ready in two months, either. I can't read a course map worth a damn, my handling is a perpetual thing of sadness, and my dog is still terrified of half the obstacles on the course.

But I think that part of how we're going to get ready is by doing this trial as an experiment. I want to see what I can get from Pongu in a real live trial environment. And I want to see what it's like, too. I've never even been to a CPE trial myself; every time this fall that there was one reasonably close for me to watch, we had a conflict with a Rally trial or some other project, so I couldn't go.

So we'll just go and try to have fun and see how it goes. Let the countdown begin.

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