Posted by: jility | August 23, 2011

From Petrified to Qualified to Horrified!

PETRIFIED!

Many of you already know the story of my young Poodle, Jility Pimp My Poodle aka UPGRAYEDD or Uppity Puppity Piddles When You Pat Her Pankin Pants Poodle or just Pankies for short.

If you would like to read the entire story, here are some links to a guest blog I wrote last fall for Susan Garrett.

1.     http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2010/08/stressing-in-the-real-world

2.     http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2010/08/the-road-to-recovering-from-stress

3.     http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2010/08/finding-the-joy

For those who want the CliffsNotes version, here it is:

Brag x Charisse puppies

I bred a litter of Poodles from my agility dog MACH 2 Durandel Hello Hollywood NF, RN aka Charisse Poodle, to get a young dog to train.

MACH 2 Charisse Poodle

 The stud dog I chose was a large and VERY handsome hunting Poodle, SHR Tudorose Royal Flush JH RN HIC CGC PCA/CKC WC aka Brag. At 26″ he was taller than I like but I loved everything else about him so I took a chance.

SHR Tudorose Royal Flush JH RN HIC CGC PCA/CKC WC aka Brag

 My petite 21 ¾” Charisse produced some humongous puppies.

Sir Cussalot decided he too wanted a Poodle so we kept two. I told Sir C he could have first pick so when we went to visit the puppies (I did not whelp the litter, a friend did), he fell in love with the black female with the red collar. She continued to be our pick until 7 ½  weeks. At 6 weeks, she was a pistol. At 7 ½ weeks, she was a pissed off, sulking, dud with no interest in much of anything. She hid in a corner and wouldn’t come out to see us or interact at all. We were devastated with the drastic change in her.

There were 8 puppies and 8 performance homes waiting. I wanted to pick the two best puppies but there was no way I could stick this puppy with somebody else so I took her. Sir C got the standout of the litter testing. We had no intention of getting a white dog but she was it for him. My puppy’s testing went about as well as I expected. She just sat there like a stuffed toy.

Sir C’s puppy tugged, played and retrieved everything thrown for her, from a small soft toy to a metal dumbbell. Mine sat in a corner sulking with little interaction with the tester at all let alone tug or retrieve.

Once home, she wouldn’t even look at me most of the time and she acted as though I beat her. I couldn’t touch her head or she either hit the deck or ran as she projectile peed and air snapped. I sat on the floor every day trying to get her to play with me but she would just stare off in the other direction as if she was in a trance.

Everything scared her to death, from people to cars to noises to other dogs. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and crying about my situation (and I am NOT one to cry!). There was ZERO drive and ZERO interest in anything I offered her for play.

All she liked to do was chase our BC, Crush, around like a maniac. She and her sister spent hours running after Crushie, who enjoyed the game as much as the Poodle puppies!

There is a lot more detail in the blogs I wrote but you get the picture. I had no drive, no toy interest, no retrieve interest, no desire to work with me and a deeply rooted irrational fear that was unpredictable and incapacitating for her. Pankies’ fight or flight instinct was WAY over the top and I never knew what would set it off.

She was so soft, if she even spit up a treat she would run off in fear then look at me as if I had caused it and as if I was the devil himself.

16 month old Pankies and her sister Barque with the ball

Many times, I wanted to quit and many times it was suggested I give up and place her. I loved her. She was my pet and I wanted to help her to feel more comfortable in her skin.

Without going into great detail, I kept at it. I made a TON of mistakes but we kept going. I corrupted my tugging by trying to force the issue but one thing I did do that saved us was to never put contingencies on her ball retrieving or try to make it happen. It started on its own with her chasing Crush while the other Poodles chased a ball for us. Pankies had no interest in the ball or retrieving. Had I done the same with her tugging, things might have been different.

So at first, she ran after Crush while her sister and the other nitwits went insane for the ball. They fought over who would bring back the ball while Pankies herded Crush. This went on for months and months. Finally, I started to notice Pankies developing a little interest in the ball. I think she was about a year old when that started happening. Over the next few months, her Crushie chasing got less and less and her interest in the ball grew stronger and stronger. Then, one day while I was throwing the ball, she dug in and brought it back to me! WTF? Not only did she bring it back but she put it in my hand!

I made a big deal about it and continued trying to get her to tug while having fun with the ball. Had I thrown the tug and not put contingencies in it, I am sure the she would have developed the same love for the tug but by that time, I had ruined her desire to tug consistently. She would tug and sometimes with great gusto but as soon as things got a little difficult for her in a training session, the tugging stopped and she ran off or refused to look at me.

Because I do think tugging is the best form of reward, I kept working at it but I kept failing. Our training was suffering for it as well. Then, last spring I decided it was time to begin 2×2 weave training. She was about 18 months old at the time. I started the training using a tugger, then went to a holee roller with her favorite ball inside. She was OK but the drive I was getting was not what I wanted so, about half way through her weave training, I broke down and went with the ball. I just kept thinking why use a 5 reward when you have a 10?

Once I went to the ball, we never looked back. My body hurt less because I wasn’t tugging, she never quit working once and her drive started to come up a bit. No matter how wonderful you try to make Brussels sprouts, I still don’t like them. If you asked me to work for those nasty little cabbage things or Pizza Fusion, guess which one will get you more enthusiasm? I felt like a failure but I had to put that behind me and continue on the path that was working for us.

QUALIFIED!

About a month ago, I decided it was time to enter her in a trial. Since we still don’t have contacts (I am really taking my time), I just entered her in jumper with weaves. She was 22 months old when she went to her first trial. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know how she would feel about not having a reward or her confidence building ball or treats in the ring. She had never done more than 4 or 5 obstacles in a row without a reward.

To say I was pleased with her first attempt would be the understatement of the century! She was tentative and not very fast but she had grown into a very honest, hard trying dog. She placed second to a BC and ran the course in a pretty good time but had  a couple of big bobbles (Like doing a face plant and going out to the ring fence to a jump on the other side).

Here is the link to her first run:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ7xhIkmYaM

The next day, I was excited to try again. I brought her out to the practice jump early in the morning before anyone was running and did a few jumps with her ball. That really helped her confidence.

We had a nice run. She got a bit off stride and had to abort one of the jumps but she came back and we finished to win the class. She was scared of the leash runner standing behind her at the start. You can see her head craning to see if she was going to sneak up on her and knock her over the head or something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuSzqcXNbno

After each run she was looking for her ball and was a bit confused that it wasn’t there for her. She was still running about half speed but her focus was pretty dang good for a scaredy cat dog. I was more than thrilled and couldn’t wait for our next trial which was a couple of weeks away.

At home, Pankies had started to bark at me on the start line and scooch. What a dilemma! I don’t want to squash her enthusiasm but I can’t have a scoocher either! I would reset the scooch and ignore the barking. I hadn’t seen the barking yet in either of her two trial runs.

On the first day of the next trial, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was close quarters and her fear of dogs was starting to get to her. I warmed her up at the jump with food because I didn’t want to have her ball land in the ring. She was lackluster at the warm up jump and a bit unsettled with the people and dogs being so close. I didn’t know what I would have when I entered the ring. Then, once in the ring and ready to go, we had a slight delay so I had to entertain her for a bit. I didn’t want her to have any down time to think about what was outside the ring and who might be looking at her.

Finally, we were given the “go” signal. The course was one of the nicest novice courses I have seen! We were clean and won with the fastest time of any height except for one blazing fast 12″ Sheltie that was 2 seconds faster. There were some seasoned BCs in there coming over to AKC from a different organization for the first time. The closest time to her other than the Sheltie was 2 seconds! WTF?

She didn’t look that fast but she does have a long stride and the course was so nice and flowing. Her speed was picking up but nowhere near what I knew she could do.

The best part was what happened after the run. They released the next dog before I had left the ring. That dog took off from the start line and ran right up Pankies butt. She didn’t even notice! She was focused on tugging on her leash!!!! That was HUGE!

Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DjuF4Y8XZU

Still looking for her ball at the end but not as long as in the other two runs.

 HORRIFIED!!!

Be careful what you ask for!

Thinking I was hot shit getting our novice title in three straight runs, I moved up to open. How much harder could it be? We do plenty of excellent level sequences.

Sir C walked over to the rings to get our numbers and pick up course maps. He came back in the Global Warmer, handed me my numbers and said with a smirk, “You’re not in novice anymore.”

“Why?” I asked feeling cocky that we could handle anything.

All he did was hand me the course map.

F#@K! A long ass run across the ring to a tunnel discrimination! I HATE THOSE!!!!! Only the fleet of foot can handle those crappy, shitty F#@%ED up things! Oh well, whatever. MEAN JUDGE! MEAN MEAN MEAN JUDGE! He should have taken old, fat, crippled women into consideration when he designed his course! Actually, the judge was very nice, just young and fit with no understanding of what it is like to have your fat old feet nailed to the ground.

The excellent course was actually a lot easier than the open and Charisse and I had no problem with it.

I went to the warm up jump with my ball this time and really got her going. What a DUMB ASS THING TO DO! She got higher than high!

 We walked into the ring, I set her up and took her understanding for granted. I often set up Charisse all wrong but she saves me. Pankies still believes that what I ask is what I really want. Young dogs are funny that way. They haven’t learned that we want one thing but show them something else and expect them to read our minds.

The opening line was tricky and I put her in an awkward place so she didn’t even see jumps 2 or 3. She sat at the line while I let out. As I walked away, I heard the barks of excitement from her. OH OH. I thought I might be in trouble.

I was right. I released her and she blew by 2 and 3. I yelled “PANKIES!” in my best play voice to keep it light and called her a cheater. Then I brought her back and sent her to 2. I turned and started trudging along and, like a moron, said “GO!” That is her signal to fly ahead of me and wait for further instruction. What I meant to say was, “PANKIES! WEAVINS!” TOO LATE!

She turned around when she heard me calling, back jumped (GOD HOW I HATE THAT! I think back jumping is THE most embarrassing thing a dog can do in agility) and flew back to the weaves. She LOVES her weavins! They are her favorite obstacle!

She got a bit hung up on the first couple of poles, then she took off like a rocket through the rest of them. I tried to get into position to call her out of the tunnel to bypass the poles but she saw those weavins and shot like a heat seeking missile into the poles!

“THERE’S NO WEAVINS again!” I yelled. She looked up at me and smiled, then went towards those dang poles again. I wondered whether or not to abort the run and go back to the tent and lick my wounds but then I thought of Pankies. She had turned on and I was about to let her down yet again because I couldn’t keep up or react quickly enough.

Now her mother starts cheering her on from the set up! Yo ucan hear her barking nonstop in the background.

So, I sent her towards the tunnel knowing there was no way I could manage to get the correct end. I tried a feeble “RIGHT” as she sped towards the opening but too little too late (as usual). Into the wrong end of the tunnel and out the other.

WTF was I thinking as I tried to handle it the same way I had intended to handle it had she actually come out of the correct side? DUH! I once again tried verbals. I best get working on those! She shot in front of me and headed once again to, YES, YOU GUESSED IT! THE WEAVINS!

Now completely out of position and on the wrong side, I managed to once again send her in the wrong direction. Finally, I got a clue and brought her back, refocused her and we finished up nicely. The speed was not there as much at the end but she was still moving right along.

I was laughing the entire time and made sure she was having a blast!

As I walked towards our tent, Sir C looked at me and said with a devilish grin, “You’re screwed.” A friend standing nearby mentioned that being screwed at my age is not necessarily a bad thing (did I actually write that?).

Yes, yes I am screwed. However, watching my once petrified of life puppy turn on and have a blast was worth every agonizing second I spent in the ring on that run.

And, I am horrified when I think about trying to keep up with Pankies. I do have good distance skills but not good enough for this one! I am going to have to spend a lot more time on the aftermarket training that is for sure!

A friend suggested I try losing weight so I could run faster. AS the visions of me bashing in her skull left my head, I tried to explain that because of the polio, post polio and the two surgeries on the broken knee, I could weigh 100 pounds and still be slow. She went on to tell me which diet I should use and how to do it BLAH BLAH BLAH! Again those head bashing visions crept back into my head. Finally, she walked away. She has no idea just how lucky she is.

Here is the link to the run. The laughs are on me. I LOVE MY PUPPY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olNHe-GCkqk


Responses

  1. Wow Helen I luv her you have done a amazeing job with her you must be very proud

    • THank you Neta! I am! I can’t believe she even made it into the ring let along be fast! I do adore her :).


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