Saturday, December 1, 2012

9 to 5

Most of us “dog people” have a regular 9 to 5 job that pays the bills so we can support our unnatural addiction to dog sports. This job, for me any ways, is a life draining, soul sucking, and daily reminder of how fast my life is passing me by.

I don’t mean to sound negative, I am just so disappointed with the [professional] direction my life took. I never wanted to sit behind a desk; I wanted to be up and about, working hard, helping people every day. My passion has always been animals, and my first job aspiration was to be a vet.

It’s a long story, with many twists and turns, but eventually I ended up here…but, this is actually a happy story, or at least a happy one in the progress of being written.

A few months ago I decided I wasn’t going to let another day go by, not perusing happiness. I took a leap of faith, took a chance, and did something completely out of my comfort zone – I took a step towards making what I did with my life count.

I was luck enough to be given the change to begin pursuing my new dream – to be a dog trainer. I know it will be a long process to prove my “chops”. I know I still have a lot to learn, but it is going to come true.

I’ve been assisting with obedience classes and a few weeks ago started teaching agility classes. It’s be eye opening as to how much “dog training” is really “people training”. Keeping students interested and engaged has been a challenge for my introverted, self-conscious, personality.

I can honestly say that having class to look forward too each week is making me enjoy my life more, work harder at training my own dogs, and find my 9 to 5 a little less painful.

So, not only will my blog be about the new adventures I have with my own dogs, but also helping new agility handlers as they explore the great world of agility training. I figure most blog cater to the seasoned agility handler, but there are few too many that encourage new handlers to take up the sport, or help them “learn the ropes”.

It’s a great adventure and I’d like to help you along in your journey…

Setting Goals

Yup, away from the blog again – you’d almost think I was unreliable. Truth is, I am just crazy busy and I have no time for most things, let alone blogging.

I do however, want to make more of an effort to write more about my training and what the boys are learning, so here we begin – again.

I think a great place to start is by setting some training goals. For simplicity sake, I’ll stick with agility goals in this blog, but I will address training goals for [rally] obedience, nose work, tracking and therapy work in the near future….see I AM BUSY!!!

Now that it is winter, there is plenty of time to dedicate directly to training without all those pesky weekend agility trials getting in the way. December and January will be rededicated to retraining our TOTO contact performance, teaching absolute directions (left/right), obstacle discrimination and distance handling. Phew…that’s a lot of training! But we can do it! So, that the training plan, but what do I want to have come from all that training?

2013 Agility Goals

1)      Have Travis earn his ATChC before Ontario Regionals in early June 2013. This means distance work and perfect contact performance! (9 Q’s to go)

2)      Have Indie earn his ATChC by the end of 2013. This means directional, perfect contact performance and obstacle discrimination! We still have a few Advanced Q’s to go, so he gets more time to earn them than Travis. (18 Q’s to go)

3)      Have Indie place top 5 overall at Regionals, in 16” Regular – also qualify for Nationals if it wasn’t obvious. Why top 5 and not top 10? Well this year it looks like it will be another split Ontario regional – I am NOT complaining – so if there will be half the number of dogs (in theory) then he needs to be top 5 in Ontario West.


4)      Have Travis qualify for Nationals. Why not set a Top 5/10 goal like I did for Indie? Well, I want to be realistic. Travis isn’t the fastest dog and he tends to be “over” the fun of agility after about 2-3 runs, even if over an entire weekend. With 6 runs at Regionals, it isn’t likely his stamina will carry him far in to the standings. It isn’t an excuse as we are always working on building drive and stamina, I simply have to accept it as part of his personality. He is a couch potato that does agility because I ask him to.

5)      Contemplate Nationals. It’s unlikely that we would go because we would have to drive there and back, and that would be too much time off work. Seems like Nationals will be in Edmonton in 2013 and I simply can’t afford to take 10-14 more days off work next year when I am already planning for 7 weeks off at other times of the year. Not to mention the money….’cause I ain’t made of it.


6) Maintain a minimum 70% Q rate over the entire year. In 2012 the goal was 50% which I exceeded, so with all the extra training and dedication I should easily be able to get the boys up to a 70% Q rate each.

We won’t be trialing as much in 2013 because I want to start competing in rally-o, obedience, nose-work and hopefully (if we can close to ready) tracking. See, no time! I have already entered the dogs in their first rally-o trial in February, thing is, I have no idea how rally-even works. Eeeks! The boys are not ready, but like with agility, we have the winter to perfect our skills. Maybe I can get a crash course from someone or find a group class to get in with. <sigh> Who am I kidding, I don’t have time for that!