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Back in training

The dogs and I played together this morning for the first time in more than a week. Well, two of the dogs–Lyra was being a city girl when we left for training early this morning, and she’s going swimming at the Croatian coast  this afternoon. But since she’s sitting out the next competition she can have a longer break.

Photo (not from today) courtesy of Neja Česnik

 

Oli and Bamm Bamm did a freestyle and a distance session each. Went pretty well. I’m changing a few things in their routines, which is maybe a bit risky so soon before a major competition. Actually in Bamm Bamm’s case it’s not at all risky, because I have yet to come up with a routine that works reliably with him. Still fiddling around and trying to introduce improvements. Maybe this modified one will work a little better. Or not.

In Oli’s case, we have one we’ve been using with only very small changes (adding a more innovative throw here and there) for the past year. And she wins a lot with it, under different formats. A whole lot. So as far as our competition success is concerned, maybe it’s not the best strategy to go mucking around with it, but I’m getting bored with it and moreover I think there’s still room for improvement. Oli does her job well, but our team movement is not nearly as smooth and fluid as I would like. We also have a couple of new things in her catching and my throwing repertory that I’d like to try using. We practiced some of those this morning, reasonably successfully, and we’ll do some work on our transitions in the coming sessions.

If I didn’t play with three dogs, I would probably change our routines, including the music, every season, if not more frequently. However, as it is I have trouble remembering all three under the pressure of competition, and it took me ages to find music that I felt worked for each dog (still not quite there with poor Bamm Bamm). So I have to be more conservative than I would like and stick with the tried-and-true, or everything would fall apart. Sometimes it falls apart anyway. Though not usually with Oli, she makes playing freestyle easy.

The dogs also play more enthusiastically when they can play with confidence,  knowing what’s expected of them, knowing where they’re supposed to go and what to do next. I don’t want to confuse Oli; if she’s uncertain, like many dogs she will partially shut down, blow off a disc here and there (as if to say, “Hey! That wasn’t  in my contract!”), and stop having so much fun chasing down discs.  So we won’t do anything radically different, that wouldn’t be fair to her, but if the changes get her endorsement,  you may see a few novelties the next time we perform. And if she’s not comfortable with it, we’ll go back to what we’ve been doing, and try out some new stuff during the off season.

Still very hot here, we finished up by 9:30 and headed for the river to cool off. Car radio was playing Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances as we drove home. I turned it up way loud–and as always when I listen to music, assessed its potential for freestyle accompaniment. Some segments could work. ;)

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