Sunday, November 28, 2010

Year-end Review

Now, you might think it's a little early for a year-end review. However, we just completed our last weekend of trials for the year and thought it was a good time for a review. Our goal for 2010 was to get the UDX title. Well, we fell a little bit short of that goal but when I look back at the year of trialing, I am very happy with what we accomplished - nine UDX legs!

At the beginning of the year I was not optimistic about setting this as a goal. Our first time out last January was going to be a 'do or die' weekend. If he had not done anything at that first trial, I was not going to pursue the title. As luck would have it, he qualified that weekend and got his first two UDX legs. He qualified the next three trials also and earned three more legs. So, five trials - five UDX legs. Then the magic stopped and the wheels fell off. I haven't gone back and counted how many trials it took for the next four legs, but it was a lot. 

Utility is hard. There are a million - well, maybe not a million - but a lot of things that can go wrong to keep you from qualifying. I imagine if it weren't so difficult, it wouldn't be such a great accomplishment to get to this level of obedience. What's particularly difficult for Jackson, and for a lot of dogs, is the stress in the ring that keeps them from focusing on what it is they have trained to do and do so well in practice.  This weekend was no exception. Jackson was very stressed in the ring even though the trial was in the building we train in. Both days he NQd on the signal exercise. He also NQd yesterday on the moving stand when he didn't come all the way to finish. The moving stand is usually the exercise I have the most confidence in. I think it just goes to show than anything can fall apart when he is stressed.

So, that brings me to our goal for 2011. It's going to be to try to get that 10th leg and the UDX title. We've come too far to quit now - and I'm not sure what I would do with my time if I didn't have a dog to train : )


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

9 legs in a year is fantastic!!!!! You need to be very proud that Jackson has come so far and has been so consistent overall. I think you need to set more goals for 2011 though as you should get your last leg in no time!

Kathie R said...

Thanks Laura - I needed that :) I was feeling a little discouraged after the trials this weekend, but I'm feeling more upbeat now as I look back on the year's accomplishments.

Jennifer H. said...

I think you guys have done a FANTASTIC job with 9 UDX legs in a year!! We admire and look up to you guys!!

tervnmal said...

You've had an awesome year! Hope I get to watch you finish the UDX in 2011!

Lindsay said...

I think you guys have done great! Like you said, it's not easy and that's what makes it an accomplishment and not something that just every dog off the street can do.

Soooooo.....I've got a training related question for you.:) Could you do a post on how you train with the dumbell? How did you get Jackson to start holding it? And how did you train the retrieve? I know that you did a post about starting to do some clicker work with Jolie and the dumbell, but I'm interested to hear about how it went with Jackson.

Bess isn't overly fond of the dumbell. I'm not using the ear pinch technique, but I am technically putting it in her mouth. She's to the point now where she will hold it on her own, but she won't take it from me. Heffner's sort of the same, though I haven't hardly worked with him and the dumbell much.