On Sunday, Dec.11, 2005 at the
Clarion Obedience Training Club's trial in Erie PA, Copper completed
the requirements for his MACH2 title. When he earned his first
MACH in May 2004, I intended to slowly phase out showing him in
agility. However, his performances got better and better, so we
just kept going. Copper has always been very consistent, sometimes
earning 3 double Qs in a weekend. Our challenge has been to earn
the speed points.
on motivation and enthusiasm has been an ongoing issue with Copper.
He is very obedient and will do whatever is asked, but not always
with the speed I would like. Copper is the king of earning third,
fourth, and fifth place in classes. He rarely made first or second
(to earn those bonus points).
I set many
small personal goals for us in the course of earning this MACH.
I wanted to increase our average points on both Standard and Jumpers
runs. A good Standard run was 15+ points for us. A really good
run was 18, and we were getting more and more of those. A good
Jumpers run was 5 points for us. We even hit 6-8 points a few
times and I was extremely happy with that.
runs met my standards with a very nice 7 point Jumpers run in
the morning and a solid 15 point Standard run in the afternoon.
It was nice to finish in good form.
a dog that needs motivation and speed takes an incredible amount
of effort. Getting and keeping this type of dog in the right mental
and emotional state to run well can be exhausting. All conditions
have to be just right to get the best out of this type of dog.
I discovered lots of little things that could help, or hurt, Copper's
performances. Crating him away from the action helped, as did
playing his favorite game (the two treats game). Very crowded
quarters made him nervous, and being out and ready too soon was
a problem as he would go 'flat' before we ran.
is going to retire from agility now. He will live the life he
was born to; that of a lap dog. I have learned so much in the
past 6 years of showing him in agility. He has given me much more
than 2 MACHs, he has taught me an enormous amount about what it
takes to nurture and maintain that tiny spark of enthusiasm. I
have had to be creative and find ways to fix problems that would
increase, rather than decrease, his motivation. No corrections
for Copper! He was on the edge of shutting down at the best of
times, so a correction for an error in agility would be fatal.
Instead, I found hundreds of ways to build his confidence and
I will miss
that incredible bond you have with a dog you train and show regularly.
But Copper enjoys being home more than showing, so he gets to
have a long relaxing retirement now. He deserves it.
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