I took last weekend and went through some old video tapes. Many of you that have read Shaping Success have been asking to see Buzzy perform when he was in his youth. I wasn’t able to find the ones I wanted (where he won Championships) but I think I found enough to give you a good representation of who he was. The clips are at least 10 years old. One is actually from 1998 I think.
Things that made me smile as I put it together included Buzzy’s start line criteria. Particularly in his later years (there is a clip from 2001 in there). Buzzy always massaged criteria. So MY start line criteria for him included that he could not grab grass. Buzz’s interpretation of this was “I can not grab grass while da mama is watching.” He knew exactly where my peripheral vision ended because even though I never saw him do it, more often than not when I turned to release him from the start line he was spewing grass from of his mouth!
I cracked up when I heard the guys in the crowd chanting “Bee – You – Zee- Zee – Why , Buzzy, Buzzy he’s our guy!” during the Great Outdoor Games. Looking at the videos critically I won’t comment on my poor positional cues while handling, or my hair cut or choice of shorts but wow Buzz was a crap jumper. I really had no idea how bad he was until I had this stroll down memory lane. I certain knew he knocked a lot of bars but now I can see why! Poor buddy, definitely a lack of education. It is obvious to me which video clip came after we started working with Susan Salo. Although his jumping never became brilliant it certainly did improved.
I am also very proud of his contact performance. To think his contact training foundation came in 1996 – ’97 –almost 15 years ago. Of course this training was maintained while we trialled (as best I could with the knowledge I had at the time). But what is amazing is that throughout his career Buzz’s contacts never needed re-training, he never missed a down contact and yet even by today’s standards, he was pretty stinking fast and accurate! I considered naming Shaping Success “Getting Control of the Out of Control”. These clips pretty much tell you why. Even though he trembled violently waiting for a release Buzz never did break a start line.
It is too funny how when Buzz comes to the line all of the dogs outside the ring start to bark as well. Such a fire started he was, got me in a lot of hot water with is big screaming bark. It was not like I didn’t try to stop him both as a youngster and throughout his career. Eventually I learned not to be intimidated by the people or by the bark but there were when times when it was a bit unnerving.
Occasionally, (the later clips document what I mean) when Buzz’s arousal level went over-the-top he would forget his job and just explode with excitement, coming close to killing us both in the process (as evident with his tire acrobatics at the end of the video). I can remember ducking out of the way of more than one head-height flying jump bar that Buzz had sent airborne while I stood motionless on a leadout. Although their were many of these potentially career-ending, possibly life-ending spills during Buzz’s career he luckily walked away from them all unscathed. One can only imagine that these spills must have taken a physical toll on Buzz’s body even though he showed no immediately signs. Regardless, I can tell you they certainly took a psychological toll on me to see them happening. This over aroused state that Buzz lived in was the reason I never allowed him to participate in flyball. He could just not be thoughtful enough. I did train him for flyball but the fear of him injuring himself prevented me from ever allowing him to run in a tournament.
Back when Buzzy was a puppy (1996) there where no reinforcement only type trainers out there to help me. When I reached out most of the answers where those of force but the more experienced handlers (from Europe) would just tell me “we would not select a dog as this for agility.” No one had solutions to the problems I was having. Yet with little knowledge and a lot of experiment Buzzy and I survived our competitive agility portion of our journey. God bless Bob and Marion Bailey is all I can say.
I am not writing all this to brag, but rather to let you know all problems have solutions, you just have to keep looking until you find yours. The good news is there are now tons of resources and many other success stories to draw strength from during your journey with your seemingly-out-of-control dog.
Coming up at the end of the week I am going to have available an awesome resource to help every one with any type of dog. Very exciting, mark my words each of you are going to be thrilled.
Today I am grateful for old videos, what a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night!