MAXIE: Most of Maxies NQ's were only one error short of Q's on his part, or totally my error panicking at the slightest bobble, missing the walkthrough, or getting lost on course. That's not so much of a gap to close next year, so I think with consistent weekly practice and better focus on my part, I can reasonably expect to double the number of QQs next year. This year was 5, so 10 next year seems not too outlandish a goal. 10 trials, 1 QQ per trial. At that rate it will take us 18 months for MACH.
"THINK SNOW": In Lake Charles I was talking with Chip G., a competitor who put a MACH3 on his Papillon, Snow, before retiring her. He said they did that by trialing every other weekend for a few years, which put them into "a rhythm with a very strong connection" and they hardly ever missed. Chip noticed that by trialing fewer times a year, the perfect rhythm was lost and QQ'ing was much more difficult. I seriously doubt I'll EVER go to more than one trial a month, but perhaps as long as we're out on the field practicing twice a week between trials, and short sequences in my yard, I don't see why the team bond won't grow. But that's me. I question everything. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.
But this Christmas decoration I've put on my entry table for many years has taken on a whole new meaning this year. I added 2 Papillon pins, and all next year I'm going to THINK SNOW.
LUCKY LUCY: My agility goals for Lucky are the same as I had for Maxie last year, her MX and MXJ, and as many QQ's as we can rack up. She's fairly accurate, but unless a miracle happens and I break the "go slow" code, she won't rack up many MACH points even when she Q's. But I believe in miracles, especially considering her stride is 4 times longer than Maxie's, she runs like a maniac every day when she feels like it, it's just a question of motivation. So my underlying goal is to learn how to "transfer value" to agility for her. (I've never had to do that with Maxie--he's always anxious to take his turn). Susan Garrett's Puppy Peaks and Recallers courses teach that as a fundamental, and I'm enrolled in both of those, so I should be able to do it.
My other goals for Lucky include finding ways to tap into and exercise her inate "cur" talents -- hunting, herding, chasing stuff, maybe tracking. I don't want to spread myself too thin.
MICHELE: I'll be NUMBER 1 in my own estimation if I continue taking charge of my health and performance - keep building up my knowledge, skill, stamina, muscle strength, speed, and focus, not expecting it to be given to me effortlessly. A few days ago I took a backward fall and landed hard on my back on our asphalt driveway trying to help John install our new mailbox. 2 years ago I would have been bruised and sore for days, but this time I instinctively rolled like a ball, got up immediately and kept on going. I never got sore. That's one way I know I'm making progress. I keep running the tape in my mind of the LSU football players whose bodies take such beatings over and over, and they just bounce back uninjured. I now know this can be trained for.
I know now I can shift from a night owl to an early morning person. I've made a lot of progress in the latter department over the past 2 years, so much so that I often awaken around 5:30 and am up by 6, and can actually think by around 6:30. I still don't get dressed until 10:30 or 11. I do so love paddling around in my PJ's. But I've proved I CAN make it to the arena by 7:15. In one case, I was the first competitor there, not counting the course builders who got there around 6 a.m.!
I have a long ways to go, so I can look forward to another year of progress, addressing lots more challenges:
- improve my physical game and handling skills
- improve my mental game
- avoid negatives
- accentuate the positives
- seek out more and wider learning opportunities
- improve my teaching skills, helping other students "get there quicker" than I did
- support the AKC
- learn the ins and outs of running a trial
- Rebuild my dog walk and A-frame
- find a way to afford a motor home
- master my video taking and editing skills
- build an "agility armoire" to house all my dog training/trialing paraphranalia and still look good in the den
- make some more agility friends, and be a better friend
- I plan to be less involved with dog club politics in 2012, more focused on my own training/competing. Still, I can't help but hope the Red Stick Agility arm of our dog club whips itself into some sort of team spirit. I've heard we had that when we first pulled the field together. We each train/compete individually but still have a lot in common, sharing a jewel of a field, fully equipped, similar goals, and showing up at many of the same trials. It's another lesson I'm learning from LSU football -- the players do much better when they pull together, which I'm also learning depends on having a great leader (coach).
The ball is rolling. On top of all that, I have to be thinking of my Mom and Dad's health and living situations (he's recently diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and is in rehab with a broken hip). Both in their 90's and living far away, we'll see where 2012 takes us on that.
Upwards and onward!