There is nothing I like more about agility then the BEGINNING of things, I just love the baby dog phase. Pretty much my idea of winning nationals is taking a baby dog out and doing ALL THE THINGS for the first time. So today was my baby dog nationals at the B Match after the trial in Salem, and Navarre rocked it. Keep in mind, it doesn't take much to rock Baby Dog Nationals.
Navarre was such a good boy! He was pretty chill hanging out by the rings, interested, but not obsessed by the other dogs running. Happy to focus on me, tug on his leash, do tricks, take treats, visit with folks - and would eventually shut up, he was just barking at me, not at the agility. He did not seem overly concerned about the other dogs, he excelled in the 'Waiting To Run' event - gold medal!
Going into the ring he was happy, a little baffled what we were there for, but quickly figured it out. In the Sit-Stay competition he came in first - another gold medal! Uh, well, you know, mostly. There may have been some getting up, but it's okay, you can still go for the gold in Baby Dog Nationals with some standing up as long as the INTENT is there.
We started with jumpers, we made up our own course as this was on the premier jumpers course. So mostly big loops, and he did most of the jumps! And only knocked a couple of them! Gold medal for Taking Many Jumps! And guess who nailed his weaves? TWICE. Yes, that's right, Navarre was a weaving fiend. Once we did a serp to blind threadle thing into them and the second time serp to rear cross - nailed them. Gold medal for weaving! We did a front cross - gold medal! Layered a jump - gold medal! Big long loop around the outside of the arena into the tunnel - GOLD MEDAL! Getting the correct side of the tunnel and leaving all the jumps up is totally optional in Baby Dog Nationals. Totally gold medal material in jumpers.
But what about standard? Would he recognize the dogwalk, the teeter, the aframe? OH YES HE WOULD. Gold medals all around! Now, keep in mind that maybe he didn't recognize them the FIRST time, but that's okay at Baby Dog Nationals. Who had a lovely 2o/2o teeter (eventually)? Navarre! Who ran his dogwalk like a boss every time? Navarre! Who did a MUCH better aframe with a turn to the chute than Bright? NAVARRE. And, once again in standard, weaves - no problem! Navarre is the Michael Phelps of baby dog national medals. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF.
Front crosses? Check! Rear crosses? Check! Blind crosses ... well, maybe next time. He did ALL THE THINGS. I don't think he recognized the triple (he was jumping 16), so more work there is needed with spreads, I think. Actually stopping on the table in sequence - uh, maybe should work on that. Ran his dogwalk with a sort of offset jump exit and he looked fabulous. Also a bit of a push onto the dogwalk from a tunnel and he handled that without an issue. Just so many things! All the things!
So, yeah, this is really what I love about agility, when things start coming together. I was really happy with his attitude, focus, confidence and obstacle performance. And it is rather surprising, if there was a graph of Navarre's progress it would be a very slight, gradual climb for a long time with a sudden surge in the last few months. It still very much takes me by surprise when he's so ... grown up. Sometimes. About some things.
So puppy had fun! And I had fun too. Ran him once in jumpers and twice in standard. The first time in standard just lots of breaking down and rewarding each piece of equipment. The second time we mostly just ran a lot of the course, just like, FOR REAL. At Baby Dog Nationals actually doing the course in order is not required - GOLD MEDAL! ALL THE MEDALS. And he was just so relaxed about it all, before/during/after - that is one unflappable puppy.
What a great opportunity to get him into that type environment, we have work to do, but feeling very optimistic we can play the end of September. Though, good lord, there was the most evil novice standard course. I'm just amazed at the courses AKC has for baby dogs, this was just a nasty piece of work, SO MANY OFFCOURSE OPTIONS, and the dog was never actually pointed at where they were supposed to go. So mean! Time to get prepared for that sort of thing ...
So, yeah, I thought as long as I was going down the match, I might as well bring Eva and Bright too. Which SOUNDED like a good idea. Much like signing everyone up for a couple runs SOUNDED like a good idea. Then it was 7 runs where I was just going from one ring to the other with this dog or that. So exhausted - I obviously haven't been RUNNING agility in quite some time! Puff-puff-puff. And it's not like I was just out there for 30 seconds, I was using all the time. Puffpuff.
As for the girls, they were not at Baby Dog Nationals, which is too bad, as it's much more fun there. Bright I ran the premier course and was thrilled to get through the opening with all blind crosses ... and then she didn't respond to my threadle. DOH. I like how the fact that she NEVER does respond anymore doesn't stop me from expecting her to. And in standard had to take her back to restart the dogwalk as she didn't have a lovely dogwalk like Navarre. Or the aframe! But she thought it was all great fun.
Eva ... ugh. I was actually feeling pretty optimistic about her, as we had practiced a little and her jumping wasn't too bad. Well, scratch that, in this environment it was HORRIBLE. Crashing, early jump everything, just ugly all around. Sigh. The good news is that it was better in standard, though there were only like 4 jumps in standard, and everything was on a turn there. I had her all signed up to go to the Summer Cup next weekend, but I'm rethinking that now. She had a good time, but she should not be doing agility if that's what her jumping looks like. Poor Eva, always gets the shaft.
I had grand intentions of setting up my go-pro knockoff camera to immortalize Navarre's first match doing ALL the equipment. I was much too busy running back and forth though. So you'll just have to imagine the magnificence of Navarre doing ALL THE THINGS in a completely adorable way.
You don't have to imagine with London looks like when he refuses to move when I'm trying to make the bed though: