Why does it always rain on me?

Even when the sun is shining, I can’t avoid the lightning …

Sunshine was looking at her appointment book and noticed I had some days off coming up, so she went on vacation.

I wonder if it’s going to be shitty for Regionals?  Which are in ONE WEEK.  A week from today, I am going to be running Tweed so hard he’ll be two inches shorter when we’re done!

Say whaaaaaat?

In our absence, TWooie will be taking over cute head titling duties:

I am psyched about running my old man at Regionals 2012.  People keep saying he has a shot at winning, but I don’t even care – I am just super happy and full of kittens and rainbows that he gets to play at all.  I love playing agility with Tweed, he is such a character!  You can officially label me “stoked.”

And then there’s Dexter.


I love this dog sooooo much.

I HATE playing agility with this dog SO SO SO much!!!

I cannot begin to explain to you the magnitude of my disappointment in this dog’s agility performance.  If it is even possible, he has gotten progressively worse at the game rather than better.  Last night in class we couldn’t even make it past the third obstacle – no kidding!  We ate up like half the class time trying to jump correctly and turn the right way over the third jump – unsuccessfully!  I think some of my classmates went to a bar, had a drink and a sandwich (and fries) and made their way back – hitch hiking – and Dexter and I were still trying to get him over the third jump.  This is not to say he is reluctant to jump, or unable to jump – he just cannot jump in the right direction.  For reasons that nobody on this earth can fathom, Dexter has recently decided that all jumps – ALL OF THEM – are rear crosses.  It does not matter where I stand, sit, do the polka or cross my arms and turn red until my head explodes … he does a rear cross.  And to add insult to injury, he then goes on to make up his own course, staring at me the all the while like “Why are you standing there, stupid human?  The course is this way.”

I am mystified.  The Sadist is mystified; he is so confused that last night he threatened to – and this is TERRIFYING, people – and I quote: “pack up some jumps, come to MY HOUSE, and figure it out.”  Sure, it was framed as a nice offer of extra assistance, but The Sadist knowing where I live is the stuff of nightmares!

I declined his kindness too.  Because it has come to the point where I no longer want to play agility with Dexter.  I just am not having fun with him.  I love my dog and I want to keep it that way … if we keep playing, there is a good chance I will drive way out into the country and leave him there, and drive back home again as fast as possible.

Of course with his stride, the odds are pretty good he’ll get home before I do anyway.

In all seriousness though – when do you say enough is enough?  Like, when do you decide that perhaps the sport is not the right one for your dog?  It is particularly frustrating for me because he started out with all kinds of potential and I put so much time and effort into giving him solid foundations, and 3 years later he’s an oingo-boingo mess out there, with no frickin’ clue what he’s supposed to be doing.  He can’t make his weave entries, he turns the wrong way 50% of the time, he ignores all my body cues until a critical moment when he over-responds to some minor twitch I make …. This makes me feel like total shit too; as I near as I can figure it, one of two things is happening.  1) he’s a certifiable moron / lunatic or 2) I blow goats as a trainer and/or handler.

And not to toot my own horn, but I just kinda don’t think the latter is the case.  I mean, I have MADed 3 dogs, ATCHed and podiumed one, and in less than 6 months I have helped make Spring a bonafida rockstar – and nobody thought Spring would ever be able to play.  I have never claimed to be a great handler (I suffer from a syndrome known as “my feet do things my brain expressly has told them not to do”) but I clearly can run a decent course much of the time with my willing partner.  And Dexter is all kinds of willing – but we continue to progress backward, like the regressing alien in Mork & Mindy.

I am |thisclose| to scratching him from Regionals.  Not only does trying to get through a course with him make me mad, but it throws off all my concentration and Tweed suffers the handling nightmare aftermath.  I lie awake at nights practicing Dexter-Zen exercises and he blows them to hell the second we go near a course.

Folks, I am not a bad trainer.  For f*ck sakes, I taught TWooie to roll over!!  This must count for something!

I could already do it.  I was just messin’ with you.  Now scare me a wabbit or go away.

I just want to go to Regionals and have fun with my best dog.

You better be talking about me.

And then there’s the added stress of leaving half my sum total behind.  Piper is going to stay with my old boss.

WHAT?  But I’m all packed to come with you!!!

And the WooTWoo will be tormenting their grandparents for a few days.

Early graves for grandparents!

(and no mum, they still cannot sleep outside!)

In other news, Tempus The Tough Toy Testing Terrier has claimed another victim:

After (less than 2 minutes):

I won’t be blogging from the trial site as I am not all wired into the world like other people, but I promise to update you all as soon as I get back.

XOXO!!  Thanks for making this happen!


  1. Scratch Dexter. Stop even taking him to classes for a while. Go have fun with Tweed. Have the funnest time ever. That’s what it should be: fun. :-)

  2. Beth F. says:

    Sometimes its time to just step back. For whatever reason its not working and its no longer fun. Take a 6 month break and see what happens then. Maybe something will have changed, maybe it won’t. Its just a game, if it stresses you out, its not worth it.

  3. cinnamondog says:

    Yeah, I’m on the ‘scratch Dex’ list too. This year belongs to Tweed. Have a ball. Your cross-eyed bear will be there, and he may actually become a decent or good agility dog in the future. I say this as a woman who has spent two years taking Rowley Rowley Border Collie out to the sheep and is still not doing actual herding work with him. Don’t give up. But do take a breather. :)

  4. If agility with Dexter isn’t fun anymore, take a break from it for a while. You have a great time with Tweed, and it sounds like Spring is coming along gangbusters, so play agility with them and try something else with Dexter. Or just enjoy him for his Dexter-ness. You can always come back to it – after all, it could just be that his brain is undergoing a growth spurt, or maybe he’s mislaid his OBM (optional brain module). Give him some time off and yourself a break and focus on making Tweed’s Regionals awesome. That’s my two cents – mind you with pennies being obsolete, it could be that my two cents are worthless, lol!

  5. I tried agility with Turbo when he was 2.5 and all I got was frustrated. I tried him again when he was a bit over 5 and there was a huge improvement. He actually somewhat pays attention to what I’m doing now. Maybe Dexter just needs more time to mature?

  6. I will throw my opinion in and say scratch Dexter from Regionals and TAKE A BREAK from agility with him! Let yourself enjoy loving him for who he is! He may be like the guy in college that still acts like he’s in junior high, then you see him at a reunion 10 years later and he’s the coolest guy in the room. Or he might just be a loveable agility-dork forever. Give him, and yourself, some space.

  7. Cricket says:

    It sounds to me like Dexter needs a break- like he gets super excited and anxious and just forgets everything because he’s in GOGOGOGOGO mode. I’m with the others on this- it’s not fun for you, it’s just a frustration, and it’s supposed to be a sport. Take some time, and maybe when he’s had a bit of time to forget what he *thinks* you’re asking him to do, your fuzzy giraffe will be unsure enough to *ask* you for (and follow your) direction again.

  8. Good to know I’m not alone!
    My 3yo with all sorts of potential seems to just get worse instead of better as well. She’s the fastest thing I’ve ever seen but CANNOT seem to hold it together. I am actually leaving her at home and just running my BestRedDog at Regionals in August, because I want to have a good time with my heart dog — not a frustrating time with her younger, louder, faster sister :)

    So, I feel ya :)

    I think I’m going to put her on the shelf for another year and try her again when she’s not quite so ridiculous :)

    Maybe Dexter just needs time to…marinate :o)

  9. What they said; forget about Dex next weekend and have fun with Tweed.

    Apart from that, souns exactly like my problem with my younger dog in agility, and also not my first BC in agility. Have you heard of the Control Unleashed program by Leslie McDevitt? That worked wonders with her, that and her becoming more mature, around 4-4,5 years old (today is her 5th birthday). And I’ve known people with the same problems, either in agility or other performances, and they’ve been helped with it too. Took me a while to accept that even with my ‘experience’ with dogs I still needed help with a dog of mine, but I’m glad I went for it. Perhaps you could look into it too, and it souns indeed like he’s a slow dog to mature (though with my dog it’s definitely in her lines, how are Dex’s siblings doing?).

  10. Do you think Dexter might be bored? I know I don’t post to your comments often, but if you do remember me you probably remember that I have Aussies. What you’re describing here happens to Aussies quite frequently. They’re done with doing it that way, and would like to try doing it a different way. If you don’t like their different way, well, they don’t much care because they do. Perhaps Dexter has a little too much Aussie in him for a purebred border collie and is just bored and trying this his way. It can become really frustrating for everybody because the dog does what the dog thinks is good, then mom gets frustrated with what the dog thinks is a good job, and then things start to roll down hill. Going back to ‘baby steps’ only hurts you because then the dog is REALLY bored and voila – total explosion of frustration.
    Stop agility for a while, and find him some different activity to try. Even if you find it totally boring, he might thrive working in obedience where so much preicision in positioning is demanded. That is often a new thing for a strictly agility dog and they find it interesting. Rally obedience might make an even better thing to try because of the variety. As an added bonus, its really good for their rear end awareness. There are so many other activities out there – go ahead and try them all. Come back to agility when you have both had a good old time doing something else and agility seems fresh again.

    I know what its like to have expectations for a dog, and have the dog just not be what you wanted. That could be thee case too. Ollie was supposed to be for conformation and work with me as a medical alert dog. He’s got a terrible front, no hair, and he barks incessantly. There is NO way this dog could be used for service work and he’s even more hopeless for breed. It took me maybe a year to start to like this dog after I realized he wasn’t what I wanted, and the main reason he wasn’t placed is that my fiance wouldn’t part with him. Now though, I’ve started to work with him and I think I have my first utility obedience competitor here, maybe even an OTCH dog. To appreciate him though, I had to let go of what I expected him to be, and instead embrace what he is. As an interesting side note, he’s actually an out of this world medical alert dog in that he, you know, alerts to medical issues. He just can’t be taken out like a normal service dog. Yet he didn’t become that until after I had stopped all serious service dog training with him and let him be him.

    It will all work out with Dexter. You just might some day find yourself wandering in to the ring of the totally wrong sport and winning ribbons.

  11. ahhh I left a long supportive post and it vanished…ugh

    short version:
    scratch Dexter
    do something different with him for at least 3 months
    get his eyes checked asap – wouldn’t be the first bttw dog that had an old, unknown injury that could really affect normal response to visual cues at speed

    Enjoy Tweed..this is his year

  12. I agree with Kate (comment #1). Have fun!

  13. Riosmom says:

    I just want to wish you and Tweed luck – and FUN – at the Regionals. As for Dexter, I can only pass on two things my agility instructor has done to help me in the past. The first was to take a break from agility – just not do it at all for a few weeks or months and then come back with no expectations, i.e., no frustration. The second was to go back to a beginning class where the other dogs were just learning to sequence so the course was just a big loop and there was no place to go but ahead. Both of these worked to restore interest and focus for my dogs – don’t know how they would work for Dexter. That said, if Dexter blows a course at the Regionals, don’t fight it, just run with him and get it over with w/o upsetting yourself. There is also the option of taking him off the course – I have never liked doing this but other folks have had good results IF the dog really wants to play agility. And as so many have said, you could scratch Dexter and enjoy this time with Tweed.

    We will have all paws crossed here for a fun filled and successful Regionals for you and Tweed.

  14. Schnitzie/Andrea says:

    Of course I know nothing about dogs, but I do know a lot about cats and a little about Dexter. My cats will never do *anything* that only I want them to, but they will do an amazing amount when I find ways to want what THEY want. That is the key to “cat training” — ha ha, what an oxymoron!

    I’m thinking about some of the extraordinary things that Dexter has seemingly taught himself to do…such as positioning himself between Twoo and other encroaching canines…and didn’t he recently, without any bidding, assume a protective/shielding posture towards you?

    The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People counsels investing one’s time, energy and focus into areas of strength. That approach should also work for dogs. I know it works for cats. When my cat avoided the litter box in favor of strategic corners in the house, I set up wee wee pads in those corners and let her stay out of litter boxes. Problem solved.

    Are there any activities in which Dexter’s shielding skill…and the sensitivity it reveals in him … would be necessary to excel?

  15. Scratch ‘im.

    If I had the choice, and I knew I would be infuriated to the point whereI couldn’t run Emma, I would.

    Go have fun with you old man and give Dextera break from agility. I’d bet you’ll all be happier.

  16. Scratch Dexter and go and run Tweed and have a blast.

    Dexter may just need a nice long break from agility, or he may just not be an agility dog. Breaks my heart that my youngster won’t lure course, but that’s who he is. And he’s having fun in agility and rally and obedience and nosework. We’ll likely never get to the top in any sport, because we dabble in so many, but that’s my choice. But if Dexter were my dog, I’d be doing something, ANYthing, with him that’s not agility. Let him mature a bit more, and he may surprise you.

    Good luck!

  17. Laura in California says:

    I have nothing helpful to offer on Dexter, maybe he just isn’t ready. But we all know that Tweed is and you are going to have a blast with him no matter what.

    I look forward to any pics and video you can get of your runs. Your folks are very brave to take on the WooTwoo, I assume they know what they are in for and are hiding all small, furry consumables in their area.

    Good luck, you’ve got a whole community here cheering you on!

  18. onlyonewoof says:

    Ugh, I’m so happy for you and Tweed, and so sorry about Dexter. Really I am. If it helps any, by letting you know that others share your misery,…I have a Dexter of my own. She’s good; if I was a better handler and she hadn’t partially torn both cruciates by the age of four, she’d be able to compete pretty seriously (not win at the big trials, but around here the 22″ BCs are freaking amazing, so I don’t hold that against her). My dream was just to go to Nationals. Just once, with my first dog ever. But she can’t do A-frames. She just can’t. We’ve had lessons with multiple instructors, tried almost every method of training a RC under the sun, and after over 2 years of trying have made almost no progress.

    So I’ve given up on my dream. I don’t really compete with her any more either. We still play agility, still work to make progress in other areas. She has a blast, I have fun, and we’re always growing as a team. I feel badly that she’ll never get the recognition she deserves, because she can’t compete. But really, the competitions are for us, the people. Not the dogs. I guess if agility is your career, then it really is important to get those ribbons. But it’s not my career (ever though I am a very competitive person, and it still makes me SO depressed and irked some days, when I think of how great a competitor she could have been). Those days, I just tell myself the important thing is to have fun, thank doG for every day I have with my girl, and learn new things (including new agility things). I’ll let you know when I accept and let go of my competitiveness completely, but I’m getting there ;-) Chin up.

  19. I vote for scratching Dexter from the Regionals and having a ball with Tweed. You need to enjoy the weekend, too, and not be stressed.
    It does sound like maybe Dexter needs a good long break from it and maybe he’ll return with focus. (or not!)

  20. kt and Mitzi says:

    Give yourself and Dex a break from agility, and maybe return after a long stretch of time (maybe a few years? When he’s not so GOGOGOGOGOGOOMD all the time). Enjoy Tweedles, give us all the lovely details and have a blast! Maybe Dexter would like a different activity better, and be less psychotic (or maybe there’s a sport FOR crazy pooches).

  21. My agility dog is 14 years old. He is incontinent, has DM (and many other things), and is in a wheelchair. I would love to have one more trial with him. This is your chance with Tweed. If Dexter is not performing in the way you’d like, scratch him. Concentrate on a lovely, memorable weekend with Tweed. You have the rest of Dexter’s life. Take this chance to just be there with, and for, Tweed. You won’t regret it.

  22. I rescued a border collie a few years ago who has great toy drive and fast as a dickens that I tried (note the word tried) to make a flyball dog out of. I had several people help me and it still didn’t work out. And, I decided why put him and myself through all the turmoil. I decided to stop trying to make him into something he wasn’t and I felt so much better after making that decision. I’m sure he does too.

  23. Evie Douglas says:

    My Aussie, Stash, was a rockstar in obedience, until one day when he decided 1. to never, ever release a dumbbell again, & 2. if there was no dumbbell in his mouth he would bark, & bark, & bark….. I doubt we will ever attempt obedience again, but I am thankful that he learned so much, including signals, before he became psychotic.
    No matter how fast Dexter is, maybe agility just won’t be his sport.
    Just enjoy Tweed as long as you’re both having fun!

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