Notes of a Sportswriter's Daughter
by Donna Haraway

© Donna Haraway

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Novice Play, Novice Players

September, 2000
Dear C.A. (Aussie health and genetics activist, dog world mentor, and friend),

Roland was inspiring on Sunday. Most of all, he was patently happy all day (we were at the agility trials for 9 hours total, plus 4 hours of driving). He basked in all the attention, thought his exercise pen (a new experience for him) was a fine place to rest and watch all the dogs between walks and runs, regarded the brace of barking Jack Russell Terriers next door to us with detachment, and met the performance demands on & around the course with very few signs of stress (a few yawns was all) & lots of evidence of enjoyment. His runs were solid and bode well for his getting his novice titles without too much fuss in the not-so-distant future (or so I dream).

We did not get a qualifying leg in the standard course because we missed the entry to the weave poles, entering at the 2nd pole on each try. In the Novice Class in the USDAA rules, you get to retry the weave poles as often as you need to get the *#@!* things properly negotiated, but after the 3rd try for a correct entry I just let him weave and went on with the course. We'll just get more practice on weave entries at home and in class. He wasn't fast overall, but still within allowed time, and he stayed with me mentally. I have a tendency to get physically ahead of him, partly because working with Cayenne is so different and partly because I am a Border Collie at heart myself, but I am learning to pay better attention to Roland's rhythms. He sticks too close to me, and we need to do some more distance targeting exercises over 2 or 3 jumps in succession to get him running out with more drive.

His jumpers run was very good, marred only a little by his losing momentum at the first pinwheel after the wing jump and needing some strong pushing to get over the next jump, foiling my plans for a clean backcross and fast pivot. I need to remember who he is and keep us a team. I think I confused him at the wing jump right before the 1st pinwheel jump and slowed him down at just the wrong point. The last 2/3 of the jumper course was a real high for both of us. He was much faster and sailed through the 2nd pinwheel and the hurdles, with a fun, fast finish over a double jump. We were both excited by the end and that made us more accurate and clean.

A couple of friends from local Aussie rescue stayed almost 2 hours after their runs just to watch Roland's last run (our class was the last event of the whole day), and that felt really good. Susan Caudill (Willem the Pyr's person, who now lives on our land) filmed the runs, along with several others, on her videocamera; so it was useful to look at the runs afterwards to see what we all did. Our next event is the AKC Sir Francis Drake trials on Sept 16. I think I am getting hooked on agility!

Cayenne will have her 1st birthday before long-how can a year have gone by? Watching her entice Roland into playing with her this morning was a stitch. She just kept squeaking her toy in his face and running off until he gave in and chased her and then played tug-of-war with the toy. She runs circles around him and is uncatchable unless she lets herself be caught. I have the impression that just to keep him in the game she deliberately gets herself into parts of the yard where Roland has some advantage because of his weight & strength and so can pin her momentarily against a fence or into a gully. If she just keeps beating him to toys or runs too fast and pivots too abruptly, he loses interest. If she gets him into a really playful state of mind, he'll go belly up for her and wrestle with her for a long time, handicapping himself by staying in a down position and chewing gently on her proferred parts while she assaults him with abandon from above. With her Pyr buddy Willem, she hangs onto the base of his feathery tail and gets dragged across his yard; then she lets go and circles him furiously, herding him where she wants. It's hard to be grumpy myself in the morning watching this kind of joyful doggish beginning! Of course, coffee also helps...

Learning to be a novice,

Entries in Chronological Order

MetaRetrievers on the Beach
Novice Play, Novice Players
Baby Weaves
Home Study
Klingon Warrior Princess
Marco's Story
Tales from the Crypt
Cats for Dog People
Blood on the Path
Personals Column
Touching Comfort
Hell's Aussie
Somewhere Off 34th Street
Daemon Tear

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