Very few of my runs are “flawless.” I do have screw ups just like anyone else, but at last weekend’s Canadian Nationals I had a lulu of a fiasco, the likes of which I have not experienced in a while. Encore and I are pretty solid in our teamwork so when she has a jumpers run with 35 faults I had to do some hefty dissecting to try to find the source of the debacle.! To tell you the truth I did not, it was Lynda that suggested a possible reason for such a catastrophe.
Before I get to that, I need to give you a bit of background. Let me take you back to a Sunday night in 2006. It was 9:30 at night in Vancouver. We had just wrapped up the AAC Nationals and with a late awards ceremony I had just given DeCaff and Encore their dinner. About 5 minutes later Encore collapsed. To me it looked like she was having a seizure, she was unresponsive and her eyes where so dilated all you could see was black, she couldn’t move.
I of course freaked and called Lynda who called her vet (Alex Soltan who was also in Vancouver at the Nationals). Alex was staying with a classmate from Vet College, so the two of them went to her clinic for some supplies and came back to the hotel to look at Encore.
In the end, it turned out that Encore’s blood sugar had plummeted and she was diagnosed as being hypoglycemic. A bunch of cookies later she was almost back to normal. Since I raw feed my dogs they don’t get a lot of grains or carbs. However ever since that day I have experimented with various brands of dog cookies at Alex’s advise, trying to find one that would keep her blood sugar up during a weekend trial. I have been really good at taking Encore’s cookies to each trial and feeding her throughout the day. Problem solved.
Now lets go back to my disastrous jumpers run. To set the stage for you you need to watch the video. Normally I run my dogs with virtually no verbal cues at all. My dogs follow my body language without the need for me to help them with any supporting words. I do use a verbal release from control positions (like contacts and start lines). Other than that the only thing you may hear me say is the odd “check, check” cue where appropriate and the word “w-e-e-e-a-v-a-s” just because it still makes me smile and reminds me of my friends from down-under.
As you can see from the video, Encore does not follow my body at all. She is loopy! I came off the round at told Carol Smorch, (who at big events does Encore’s massage and energy work), “you need to put her brain back in her head, I think it is gone!” Take a look, to me during the run it was like I was running someone else’s dog. A dog that had never worked with me before so didn’t understand what I was asking of her.
I think you know where I am going with all of this. Before Encore’s next run Lynda asked me if I had given her cookies that day. It was hot, humid and the atmosphere was exciting. I admitted I had not. I had left them back at the RV. It was about an hour before my next run, Carol was working on Encore. I walked over and fed her a bunch of Lynda’s cookies (her Golden Spirit is also hypoglycemic and also has collapsed without cookies). About 10 minutes later Carol asked me what I had fed Encore because she almost immediately started to change and relax. For the rest of the weekend Encore got her cookies and her and I were flawless. Her only fault over her next 4 classes was 1 knocked bar in next day’s jumpers class where she tried to bounce a 17′ distance in the close (a bit optimistic bounce for her).
No one will know for sure if my diagnosis is correct. Perhaps Encore and I where just not communicating well enough with each other during that run I have labeled the “nightmare on Corkstown Road.” However I feel very strongly it wasn’t just a matter of a brain fart by either or both of us. Sure Encore didn’t collapse as she did in Vancouver but hypoglycemia isn’t an all or nothing affliction.
I felt it important to post about this in my blog in case there is someone out there that are having troubles explaining some of your own dog’s behaviour at a trial. Don’t immediately think your dog is a butt head, look for another source to this issue.
Encore is a dog that gives her heart to me any time I ask. I feel badly that I let her down and forgot her cookies that day, but I am grateful to Lynda for her suggestion and for the difference it made to my girlie for the rest of the weekend.