Well this last week has been a massive learning curve! I've been watching the viodeos I made at the KC show the previous week of other handlers and dogs and comparing with me and Epic. It has been invaluable having this tool as I can see from the slow mo that he's very accurate in picking up on the cues I'm giving. Unfortunatly a lot of the time my cues are wrong but at least he's doing pretty well everything I'm telling him to! I was fortunate to meet up with a couple of friends who are experienced competitors at the show and they gave me some very useful tips and advice that I was determined to put into practice at our next show. My aim this weekend was to get fast confident runs from Epic and not worry about going off course. But I was also going to try for some clearer handling and in particular to work every obstacle rather than just run alongside! This was the Paws in the Park show - a really big 'fun' show which draws large numbers of people and dogs and hosts a large variety of competitions from the normal agility, breed etc to unusual Dash n Splash and Frisbee. So here is how we got on in the Agility run: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg1fTuAeR3Y I must have told myself 100 times to WAIT at the teeter and let Epic get the entry on the weaves and what did I do? Run on...every time! Could have kicked myself for this. The issue in the corner which happened behind the A frame was he was rather taken by surprise by one of the scouts (who were ring partying) sitting on a chair in the corner as he was coming over the jump. He's never seen someone sitting on an agility course before so he had to have a proper look but then was OK to carry on. Typically, our best run of the day wasn't filmed as the camera shut off after 5 seconds. It was the Helter Skelter which went brilliantly and had I remembered to be at the 12th jump rather than hanging round the end of the tunnel facing off course - could have been even better! Another irritating error on my part but thrilled with Epic - driving round confidently all the way, no hesitation, no running out. It seems to be when I'm stopping realising we've gone/going wrong that this happens. I think he believes because I'm not running he must have finished the course, which is fair enough. Lesson learned - don't dither and worry about mistakes just carry right on. Better positivly wrong than trying to be right and confusing the dog. Our Jumping round: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_9ul8ZhLFI Now I'm sure you're wondering about why I didn't do this course. The third jump was the first of a four jump serpentine, that required calling off the obvious jump immediatly ahead of 2 to the back side of the serpentine, then diagonally out of the serpentine to 7 then pulling round to the weaves. The end section would have needed a double front cross or some nifty rear cross action. After walking the course twice I was going to withdraw from the class as it was well beyond either Epic's or my capabilities to even attempt. However one of the expereinced sheltie handlers suggested I ran the nice easy route round the edge so Epic got a really good expereince and didn't miss out on his run. I thought this was an excellent idea so that's what we did. I even unintentionally layered a couple of jumps as I couldn't get to the inside fast enough! We both had a blast and were much happier than if we had attempted the course. I didn't realise I could do the 'wrong' course deliberatly - another good lesson learned. The second day of the show I had decided to just do the Steeplechase course with Epic because I wanted to do other things with the other dogs. Actually Epic had a little routine with hoops to perform for 'My Dog's Got Talent' and although he was a bit jittery in the environment, he did it very well so proud of him! Yogi was placed 4th and 5th in the advanced obedience classes, although he did decide to bark part way through both rounds. He did his stays which I was pleased abAnd out as he went through a period of being lazy and breaking.And Dear Revel did the 'Dogstable' course (tiny jumps, going through a gate and slalom cones etc in a very respectable time of 1.04 - not bad for a senior!! He loved the jumps and lept so high he would have easily cleared the height Epic was jumping in the agility!! He also got a nice third in the Veteran Breed showing class. Because I was rushing from one thing to another I forgot the camera for our Steeplechase round so you'll have to take my word for it that it was one of the best - no the best run we've ever had. I handled it just as I had planned and Epic ran beautifully. The only mistake was right at the end when I used the wrong arm to send him over the last 2 jumps and he took the off course one as well. I could have just about pulled him off but I decided to not worry and let him go happily wrong rather than spoil such a confident run. I was very proud of all my boys for their achievements over the weekend but especially Epic who woudn't have even been able to come to a show like this six months ago. He was a bit nervious around the general show but relaxed and happy in the agility section - wonderful to see! Footnote: Unfortunatly tonight while practicing weaves with Epic, he was chased across the field and accross 2 roads by someone's black lab that literally came out of nowhere. I was pretty desparate (and used some very choice language on the dog) as Epic bolted off. However, when he got away from the lab he stopped and came racing back to me when I called. Although a bit shaken, we returned to the field and after getting our breath back Epic was able to play with his toy and even happily went through 6 weaves a couple of times. I thought this was important as I didn't want him to associate the field or the weaves with something so negative. The lab's owner didn't even bother to stick around to make sure my dog was safe - another dog walker we met on the way back said she had left very quickly. Probably just as well as I was livid as you can imagine, but I think all the CU work I've done over the year has really helped him deal with situations like this (sadly which are almost going to be inevitable in public places) much better.