But resting wasn't an option because we went to my new handling class with Jenn. I had one class session with her last summer (and then her mom taught the rest of the classes - which was cool - we love Susan) but this is my first time signed up to take a seven week class with Jenn. She is a really good teacher - it goes without saying that she knows her stuff (she and Blaster got MACH 9 at the trial over the weekend!) but she also knows how to say things and what to say to each handler. She presents her thoughts in a very orderly fashion and has the 7 weeks planned out ahead of time so that it all makes sense. This class is handling so it's mostly jumping and not much contacts or weaves. And it's not a lot of running and exercise for me - it's a lot of exercise for mom's brain! Yesterday Jenn told us we are going to work on the basic turns (push, pull, rear cross, front cross), sends, and recalls. Each week we alternate - first week was turns - specifically rear cross on the flat and at a jump and forward motion front crosses - then next week will be sends, and turns will be the 4th week and then they will be more advanced. This gives you time to practice each skill before it comes up again in class. (Unfortunately with this winter weather it's kind of tough to practice much).
Class started out with a lecture about the turns and the two we would be working on. Then we got to try some sequences using just jumps and tunnels. First we tried a sequence with a rear cross on the flat before a tunnel. Rear crosses are difficult for us because mom is usually ahead of me. (We seem to do one at every trial somehow though). We did the cross on the flat but it was forced, unnatural and not at all flowing. Then we tried the rear cross before the jump in to the tunnel. That went better but still not our strong point. Finally then we got to work on front crosses - mom does those for me all the time - but we didn't realize we were doing forward motion front crosses. Say you have two jumps in a 180. Most people can send their dog over the first jump and move laterally to the landing side of the second jump and do the front cross there. But since I am usually behind, mom runs to the landing side of the first jump and does the front cross between the two jumps. Mom does this all the time - you can see one between jump 2 and 3 in our standard run from Sunday. But she didn't think about rotating her dog-side shoulder into me and then getting her outside arm ready (like a precue) in order to tell me more specifically where to go. The handler's motion is forward so it would be telling the dog to go forward and the dog needs the extra turning cues in order to know that a front cross is coming. This is especially true for fast dogs - you have to rotate your shoulder and get your outside arm ready before the dog even commits to the jump. This is a learned response for the dog (not a natural cue based on body motion). See - I told you it's a workout for mom's brain! Any way we did much better on the front cross exercises. Mom also needs to remember to pick me up coming out of tunnels so that I know where she is and where to go next. Lots of info for just one class! It was great!
Yesterday I also started my emergency recall lessons. Grandpa gave mom a whistle that he used when he was an air policeman in the air force when mom was a baby. She decided to use a whistle for the ER since she doesn't trust herself to be able to yell a word without panic in her voice. You are supposed to start in one room of the house and practice there for a whole week. The first time she blew the whistle I was standing right there - it's a small room and I knew she had turkey meatball in her pocket so I wasn't going any where - and I thought, "What the heck?" But as soon as I figured out I should look at her and then go running to her when I heard the sound, I loved the game!!! What could be an easier way to get meatball? So mom couldn't manage to stick to one room for even one session because she was sure after a few tries that I would come flying to her any where in the house when I heard the whistle. And I did! But we will not be moving outside or trying any distractions until after a week of practicing every day. In order for this to work, I have to automatically respond to the whistle - no thinking involved or necessary! So then if we ever need the ER, hopefully I will immediately stop what I am doing and just react to the sound!
Busy Monday, huh?