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Gracie turned two in December and we’ve been able to continue to trial on a limited basis throughout the pandemic. I have to run with a mask on and either crate in the car or socially distance in the building. Everyone is very cooperative and the host clubs are very clear that non compliance will not be tolerated. I appreciate that. I’ve stayed in my local area for safety reasons, and there have been more CPE trials than AKC. The AKC trials were mostly canceled or postponed till summer.

I’m hoping to start traveling with Gracie this spring as restrictions ease. She’s in level 5 in CPE, with a good start to her C-ATCH , and in Excellent in AKC. Had a perfect weekend last trial. She has gotten past the Zoomies and is focused and fearless during the run.

Our struggle now is a start line stay. She has a beautiful one in class but not at trials. My trainer advised me to meet her where she is and do running starts or drop and go starts for now at trials and continue to work on it in class- and continue to work on impulse control in other settings.

This has worked well, partly because I can stop stressing about the start line and can concentrate on having a nice run....instead of thinking we’ve failed because she broke her stay. I watched the AKC invitationals and there were teams that did running starts or drop and goes, so I guess we’re not that unusual.

I know there’s a school of thought that they should be marched off the course if they break the stay and I discussed that with my trainer. She said if Gracie wasn’t doing everything else so well I could consider that, but she is laser focused and very driven during the rest of the run, and just loves every aspect of agility. I want to preserve her joy, and not create a punitive atmosphere.

All in all, moving along. Here are a few recent pics of the wild child, one with her sporting her new custom collar/ leash!
 

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Wow, look at her fly! I always love seeing pictures of Gracie. :)
Thank you - she does fly! Unfortunately my body doesn’t move quite as fast, although she has motivated me to get more in shape to keep up with her. She’s starting to get some good distance skills, which will help as I am not getting any younger.
 

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Love the pictures! Absolutely love the pink collar!!!!
And I love your avatar with flowers as a head piece! I think the collar fits her personality- splashy and fun! Gracie OTH thinks it is a wonderful new tug toy.
 

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Good to hear that you've found trials to keep competing. I did halt an agility run at a trial when my very driven and energetic standard broke his start line stay, however, it wasn't a march off the field. Just a "too bad, we'll try again next time." The next run that day, and the remainder of runs over the trial weekend, he held the stay. I was ecstatic that it was so easy. He loves agility so much that he deduced quickly how to stay on the course.

I don't believe in punishing at all in training. We're there to play (yes, even in obedience!), and if it's not fun, I don't want to do it.
 

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Thanks for posting the pictures of Gracie! I am always pleased to see a poodle doing agility with style and enthusiasm!
 

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@Scooterscout- thank you for sharing your experience. I haven’t completely ruled out taking her off the course. If I thought it would mean only throwing away a couple runs, that’s worth getting the message across. Although the seduction of perfect weekends is hard to pass up! I’m hoping that the more we trial, she’ll settle down. She does occasionally have a good start line stay toward the end of the trial.

@Johanna- no shortage of enthusiasm in this one! She has such a joy for life and such confidence. Some one asked me at class if there was anything Gracie didn’t like. There isn’t much ...not crazy about grooming (but she is good for it) and she hates sewer grates- of all things! She steers clear and pulls in the opposite direction. She must think they are black holes waiting to suck her up!
Johanna, on another note, I have a question that maybe you can answer as a breeder. I read on another thread that black dogs with a white parent often fade to blue. Gracie has one white and one black parent. Other her distinctive blaze, she is still inky black. Should I expect her to fade as she ages because of her parentage? It doesn’t matter to me I was just curious. Thanks!
 
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