Asher had his agility debut! And my first trial in a year, so my first look at the infamous ‘COVID trial’. I do think that it’s very easy with these trials not to come into close contact with anyone, as long as you are being cautious it is absolutely easy to stay away from everyone and be in the arena minimally. That said, there was a LOT more hanging out than I would have expected! Which, I understand too, people are happy to see their friends and get to catch up. At least everyone was wearing masks. I did actually find it kind of ironic that I ended up having to get closer to someone than I have all year when they did the temperature check and put on my wristband. Go figure. That did not seem well thought out to me. And I liked the agility gating app, so you could always see where they were. I liked the uncongested aisleway in the middle, which had become clogged with people putting their chairs there in recent years, which seems silly considering there are bleachers RIGHT THERE. So COVID trial, I think, overall, a relatively low risk activity to take part in, assuming you don’t end up clumping up with everyone else there to catch up!
Anyway, so that was a big hurdle, but my baby trialed! We did two weekends in a row, but just one day each trial, and just two runs each day – just a FEO T2B run and a Novice JWW. We passed the first major hurdle, Asher did NOT measure over 22 inches thankfully! He seemed fine in the environment too, and in fact was being pretty calm until I got the tug toy to bring into the ring with us for his first run. Then, ZING!, super dialated pupils! Yeah, he just crashed through the first few jumps, and as that’s not cool with me, I put them up, and tried again, and he knocked it again, so I put them up, and tried it again – and he finally got through the first four obstacles! Then into the weavepoles, where he pulled out to stare at me … and, time. Not really a run, his little brain had just exploded – but he was certainly not stressed, not worried about the people or judge, focused and happy to be there. I’ll take it.
Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, our first ever jumpers run started off MUCH smoother – no toy in my hand, his head was more level, he was doing great, no knocked bars, and about halfway through the course … he stops dead, barks and and runs away … from the timer. Not the sound of the timer, the movement of the numbers on the timers. Like, WHAT? And I could not convinced him to go anywhere near the timer, so we had to skip the weaves and the finished awkwardly. So, huh, what on earth was THAT about?? I have never in my life seen a dog afraid of the TIMER NUMBERS. And Asher is not the sort of dog that has issues like that. I mean, he was weird about the tv when he was a puppy, which I also thought was strange, but that was a puppy phase. Anyway, he did look great until that point, and he still finished happy, but that was bizarre.
Luckily, the next weekend they used DIFFERENT timers, which are not apparently so scary, so not an issue at trial #2. We were both a little more comfortable with the routine and he had some great stuff in his FEO T2B run, kept all his bars up, nice aframe, self released on his teeter (but confident!) got his weaves the first time and stayed in, and did his go-on (which he did not the week before!). He did try to take me out on a recall to heel move in the opening, which was interesting, but overall I liked his mental state a lot better, especially with much stopping to tug. His second jumpers run he went immediately off course at #2 coming out of a tunnel, and almost did it again when I swung him around and tried it a second time. But lots of good stuff, missed his weave entrance and then kind of froze when I asked him to fix it, but got through it and, once again, acted like he never heard go-on before. However, I do think he was looking for Carol at the end. It was so funny, he saw her at the trial and he just went NUTS to see her. Which he likes her, but he never, like, is super excited to see her. Well that has changed, apparently.
So agility-wise, we had some nice progress, I was happy he was staying with me and wanting to play. He’s definitely higher and kind of twitchy and feels a lot different than at home or practice. But I still couldn’t really explain his weirdness, and then suddenly he couldn’t walk on the laminate flooring at home. You know, the flooring he’s walked on HIS WHOLE LIFE. I had to carry him from room to room, he just couldn’t do it. And that’s when I think I finally realized that he has hit the infamous border collie fear stage. Pretty much all my dogs have gotten WEIRD around 2 years of age, it really freaked me out when I saw it the first time with London. He became afraid of things he knew his whole life, like vacuums and my dad. And that dog was SOLID, it was just weird to see him afraid of ANYTHING. Since then, I’ve seen it to various degrees with my border collies after him. But they will be weird for a few months at least, it’s not a short phase.
So this is a different side of Asher, it’s definitely weird to see him all wussy, as that’s not who he is. The question is, should I continue to do a few trials with him, or just wait for him to get through this? I decided to go ahead and do another trial, just a couple runs, even entered him in standard, see what that dogwalk does in public – ha! And that will also be Navarre’s first trial since last January. We’ll see how it goes!