January 4, 2015 by Julia
2014 was a pretty good year for Dash and Delta. Not easy, not simple, but good.
Dash’s year started out enjoying some fun Weight Pulls with the local UKC club and training studio. At the second pull, I was doing my usual management with Dash to get him in and out of the building. When I came back in after our turn, the studio owner, Shannan, struck up a conversation about his behavior and our history. We talked about all the things I’d tried and how I’d learned some management but had never made serious headway with his problem. After his next turn, Jay Jack asked if he could take Dash’s leash for a moment. In the short distance between the end of the pull and the side exit, I saw a glimmer of hope. Maybe Dash and I could move past just managing his behavior.
We spent the second half of the year setting goals. We worked with the BMOD group at Finish Forward on his reactivity and self-control. Not only did I see hope for his behavior, the UKC club were holding a fall trial and I felt hope that Dash might be able to compete in a sport that he enjoyed. I bought him his very own weight pull harness and we spent several months preparing in classes and at home. When I was confident that we could compete, I sent in his UKC registration. He officially became Wynkyn’s Dashing Young Man – a “registered” name 8 years in the making.
While the trial didn’t go the way I’d hoped due to an unknown injury, it was still a success. He’d come far enough that I felt confident sending in an entry fee. We were able to navigate a show site without incident. I was able to move through my disappointment quickly so I could see and appreciate the success that we had. We spent the rest of the year working on his injury and behavior modification.
Delta’s year had shifting focuses and a funky little mystery. We started out focusing on IPO training. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot from the club’s guest trainers. In Spring, as the days got longer and the mounds of snow finally receded, I set my sights on Obedience and getting ready for Delta’s BH in the Fall. I was lucky enough to have the USABOX National IPO Championship scheduled a short 3 hour drive away.
Then in August, our little mystery appeared. Some routine blood screening turned up ALT (liver enzyme) levels that were 10x the high normal value. Her training was put on pause while we tried to sort out the cause of her ailment. Several tests and a lost liver biopsy later, we had to conclude that she was a happy, healthy dog with a strangely high ALT. And now our training was way behind “schedule” for our BH.
When the time came to compete at USABOX, I’d decided that the experience was more important than precision. Delta put on an entertaining and *whew* passable performance. And while many areas were not as nice as they could have been, her recall was just the way I like it. The judge complimented her temperament and happy working attitude.
After that was over, it was time to decide what our next steps would be. A variety of factors meant it was no longer feasible for me to continue with IPO. The (AKC) Obedience classes I wanted to attend conflicted with a previous obligation. A friend had recommended a local agility class and it just happened that the Foundation Skills class was starting that coming Monday. We’re now in our third session of Foundations and Delta is doing a dynamite job. She’s taken to it like a duck to water and soaked up the skills probably faster than I actually learned to teach them.
I’m looking forward to 2015. Dash and I will continue with BMOD and will add Weight Pull in when we can. Delta and I have a whirlwind January scheduled with Monday through Wednesday taken up by Agility, Novice Run-Thrus, and a Heeling Games class. After January, I’ll have to evaluate where we are, where we’re going, and if I can handle evening classes 3 out of 5 workdays.