Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trial Report: APDT Rally hosted by the Minnesota Mixed Breed Club

Maisy and I attended an APDT rally trial today, hosted by the Minnesota Mixed Breed Club. We entered in two level 2B runs.

I was really proud of Maisy today. She was initially quite stressed when we entered the building, and did some minor growling (but no lunging, so yay!). She quickly settled in, though, and it seemed like the longer we were there, the calmer she got. By the end of the day- about three hours- she was flopped on her side and quite relaxed.

The other cool thing came from Jeff, who is a provisional judge, and who we met last summer. Because he's a rational human being, he remembers and is smitten with Maisy. (Or at least, he seemed to like her an awful lot.) Anyway, he commented about how much more outgoing she was today than she was last year. He said last year, he couldn't get close enough to touch her, and this year, she was really into him.

After he said that, I realized that she was really interested in seeing the other dogs, too. She's never been one to initiate greetings with other dogs, and today I had to keep calling her off the other dogs, lest I run the risk of being the "rude" dog that has to say hi to everyone. What a change!

We did have a bad moment, though, and it was in the ring during our second run. Even though it's kind of embarrassing, I decided to upload the video for you guys to see:

I chose to upload this video for two reasons. First, because this is a blog about reactivity, I wanted you to see what her reactivity looks like. It used to be worse, but this is pretty typical for her these days. I'm actually pretty proud of the reduction in intensity.

Second, because I am so stinking proud of her. Okay, I know that's a weird thing to say, given that she was reactive in the ring, but look at her ability to bounce back from stress! What you can't see in the video is that she was startled by a dog who suddenly came through a doorway near that corner... a large black dog who is paralyzed, has no use of his back end, and who was in a sling and being carried/pulled by his owner. So, there's a sudden environment change, which is an iffy proposition for her anyway, and it's a dog who looks like a dog, and yet doesn't move correctly and is wearing weird stuff, and... that can't really be a dog, can it? But then what is it? OMG I MUST FREAK OUT!!!

Right, so, I thought the reactivity was understandable (if a bit embarrassing). I chose to put her on leash for safety measures (she's never gotten into anything with another dog, and we certainly don't need to start), and then finished the course. I wanted her to end on a good note, for both our sakes. And she bounced back really well. If you look carefully, you can see that there are a few instances where she looks back at that corner, although they seemed more obvious at the time than they do on the video. I used extra treats to reinforce attention, mostly because I could, what with the fact that we'd already NQ'd and all. But overall? She was very focused on me and generally relaxed, which is evident both in her body language, and by the fact that her mouth was very soft as we moved through the remainder of the course (she gets "sharky" when stressed).

So, even though we NQ'd, even though it was a bit embarrassing, I was still so incredibly pleased with her performance. I mean, barring that bit in the middle, it was a beautiful run! And then, afterwards, we hung around the trial site for another hour and a half. I expected her to be edgier as a result of the cortisol that was surely flowing through her blood because of that outburst, but instead she was on her side and quite relaxed. How cool is that?

Oh, and our first run? She scored a 205 and 4th place! We lost three points because of a handler error (well, tactical decision- I chose to move inside the six foot line for the send over jump exercise since I've never really properly trained jumping), so really, that's like a 208!

I was also really happy with me- my ring nerves were the lowest they've ever been. I was just a teensy bit nervous prior to going in the first time, but since I wasn't working on a title or QQs or anything, there was nothing to lose, and everything to gain. And we did gain it. We worked together like a team. Despite stress, despite reactivity, we were both able to bounce back and act like the champions we want to be someday.


Eliz said...

YAY! Maisy came back like a champ!

Eliz said...

When your there in the moment and know your dog has just not qualified, it takes confidence and strength to break out of the box and do things like using the leash, giving treats, or whatever else it takes to make sure your dog finishes on a positive note. (BTW, when I didn't qualify, it was just one more sign, and I just left, in hindsight I wish I had followed your example).

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

She really did quite awesome today! I was extremely impressed with how relaxed and happy she looked at he trial, how attentive she was in the ring, how quickly she bounced back from that "frightening dog," and how long she just happily hung out after you were done! She really is looking amazing and you should be quite proud of her.

Oh, and Adam took videos of your runs today as well. Would you like me to send them to you, or do you already video?

Dawn said...

Yes you sure did look like the champions you will someday be. Maisy was looking more relaxed than ever. Even whe she was giving you shark teeth, it looked more like excitement that nervousness. And she was very interested in meeting Magic, which is a first too. Very good day I thought.

Megan said...

Look at what a good dog you have! She was most excellent today, and you handled that SO well. I was so impressed with how well you both recovered. YAY!

andrea said...

proud of her and you :)

that would set MANY dogs off

you guys are already champions in my book!

Crystal said...

Thanks, everyone!

Elizabeth, it really is harder than it seems to decide when to give up and make a cookie run. Today was easy for me (being reactive in the ring is generally a clear signal), but at other times, I've really struggled with the decision.

Laura, thank you so much for the offer of video! But I made Megan do it, so I've got video. That's really cool of you, though.

She really did such a nice job of bouncing back, but I have to tell you all something: After that outburst, I figured there'd be some cortisol or other hormones in her system that would make her edgier than usual afterwards. When she was so calm and relaxed while at the trial site, I was quite surprised.

Well. She completely fell apart when we got home, barking at everything, dive-bombing the cats, chasing the neighbors along the fence (she loves the neighbors!), and she wasn't even very interested in her Kong. I have no idea if she did it on purpose, but I'm glad she held herself together until she got to a socially appropriate place to fall apart.

Anonymous said...

Crystal, not only did Maisy recover quickly, I must commend you on how you handled it. Much better than I would have, I'm sure. Your body language stays calm and you carry on like there's nothing to be concerned about. Brando and I are going to a Rally trial in two weeks and I am so nervous about how he'll react. He's been doing very well overall, and it's not as if he's never been to a show, but he hasn't been since the reactivity started. We have a series of shows coming up, so I thought the Rally trial would be something a little less pressure than a typical show for us to get used to being around other dogs in that environment again.

Crystal said...

Thanks. Believe me, that's been a hard thing for me to learn!! I used to freak out/tense up a lot more, and I've worked a lot at being calm.

Good luck with Brando- It's always harder to be relaxed at a show/trial when you don't know what your dog is going to do.

Cinnamon said...

I am very impressed by the way you handled and responded to Maisy's reactivity, which I think helped her to concentrate again after the incident. Cinnamon's reactivity is just like Maisy's in the video. Your video showed me the importance of the handler's attitude. Thank you for sharing it.

Cinnamon's mum

Crystal said...

You know, I was reluctant to share the video because I thought it was embarrassing. I'm glad it's helpful to people! :)

Robin Sallie said...

Thank you Cinnamon and Bonadeaaussies for pointing out how Crystal's non reactivity was helpful for Ms. Maisy the Muppet dog. I've been *beating* that into her for about a year now.

Nice job, Crystal. I am proud of you.

Crystal said...

We both struggle with being calm. I have no doubt that Maisy's reactivity got worse because I also overreacted. *sigh*

But thanks, Robin. :)