Monday, July 2, 2012

Second Novice Leg

Yesterday Tessa and I went down to Beltsville, Maryland for the Star Spangled Swing.  It was certainly one of the more interesting competition experiences I've had in a while, but it was very much a positive one.

This past Friday a lot of severe storms moved through Maryland.  We actually had just a tiny bit of it, as we were at the tippy top end, but compared to what they got to the south, we got nothing.  I was surprised, as we got near the competition site, to see a lot of tree branches strewn all over the roads, and one tree down that covered half of the road.  That was my first clue that the storms that had gone through there were a lot worse than normal "bad storms".  When we got to the competition site, we were met with an even bigger surprise - there was no power!  That meant no lights, no air conditioning, and few ways to keep our dogs cool in the close to 100 degree weather!

I have to give major credit to the host club, though.  They made it work.  The facility had sky lights in the ceiling (never even noticed those before!!), so there was plenty of light in the rooms.  There were battery operated lanterns in the bathrooms and changing rooms.  There was running water.  They couldn't run the sound system, but they had a battery operated boom box for our music.  And a small pool was set up outside under a tent, so we could have our dogs dunk to get cool.  Everyone was cooperative, accommodating, and supportive, and I actually think I may have enjoyed myself more.  There was a real sense that we were accomplishing something good together.

I got there at about the middle of the first group, and we were close to the end of the second, so I had plenty of time to bring in my stuff, get set up in the crate building, and then Tessa and I went into the performance building to watch some of the other competitors.

Tessa loves lying on her mat, listening to the music, and watching other dogs perform.  She is just an absolute delight to have with me at a competition.  Her one and only "problem" is that I still have to have someone sit with her while I used the restroom or got changed.  But she is making great progress with being left in her crate.  I can do it at our regular training building, and I don't think it's going to be long before I can do it at competitions, too.  I will take that "problem" any day of the week over a dog who is bothered by other dogs barking, or has issues with noise.

When our turn came, Tessa was a bit on the warm side.  I did cool her in the pool, but she wouldn't lie down in it like she does at home.  She did put her feet in and I splashed the water on her belly.  But warm or not, when our turn came, we were all ready to go.

I was very, very, VERY pleased with her performance.  She wasn't as animated as she usually is, but she was willing, she enjoyed herself, and she did almost everything I asked her to do.  And when she didn't do what I asked, she was trying.

We even got applause when Tessa did her pivot on her pedestal!!  That has been one of the tricks that we have been working on in Tricks 2 class and it is becoming one of her best!!

Here is the video of her performance:

I knew that the performance had a chance of qualifying, depending on whether or not the judge considered the content sufficient.  In a way I didn't care if it did or not, but of course I was thrilled when I got my scoresheet and saw that we had!!  8.0 Technical and 8.3 Artistic.

The judge recommended using the prop more, and even doing our ending on the prop.  I had actually been considering that, so I think I might.

After lunch we watched more of the competition, and at the end we had our Innovations performance.  We did her jumping routine.  She did a really nice job.  Again, she was warm.  She did stop at the jump on the Rally Move jump, but she did take it.

At the very end of the day, after everyone had finished, almost everything was broken down, and we were waiting for awards to start, the electric finally came on!!!  It was nice to have air conditioning, even if if was just for a little bit at the end!

I don't feel ready to be thinking about Intermediate with Tessa, but apparently that is where she means to go!  We only need one more Novice Q to finish the title, so we will be working on getting ready for that for Barkaritaville in November.

There is a lot of work to be done.  After watching the video several times, I have these goals:

  • Work more on prop tricks.  Lengthen the duration of the pivot, and teach a few more
  • Re-choreograph the routine, breaking tricks up somewhat to create more interest
  • Work on bringing more "bounce" to duration heelwork
  • Work on moving cues she knows to verbal
  • Work no backchaining to teach her to move from one move into another without needing to think a lot about it
I think I will stick with this music for this routine.  I don't want to create something entirely new for just one leg.  But I do mean to change it up a bit and try to make it more fun.  I might even add a second prop . . . . 

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