I have always liked to use the end of one year and the beginning of the next as a time to reflect on what’s gone well (and what hasn’t) and to plan for the coming year.

So: 2011 has been a good-but-not-quite-as-good-as-I’d-hoped year in agility competition and training. Dancer and I are still struggling with her contacts, although Debbie recently made some very helpful observations about Dancer’s contacts (more below). Dancer qualified for CPE Nationals in June of 2012 (two weeks before my daughter’s wedding!). She turned five in June, and she seems to really be coming into her own, with confidence and verve. I look forward to next year.

The observation Debbie made is that Dancer stops when I stop and starts when I start; she jumps the contact if I pause and then accelerate. I experimented with that today, at a NADAC funraiser (just did Chances and Jumpers and then left–there are three more days to come!): I stopped dead while she was on the dogwalk, and she stopped dead too. Okay, I can work with that. I’ve known for years that Dancer is very sensitive to my motion; I hadn’t realized she’s that sensitive!

Looking ahead, of course a lot of what I’m thinking about is the CPE Nationals and getting ready for that: I need to make sure Dancer’s teeter and contacts are the best they can be; I need to train the double and triple jumps; I need to train the chute.

Besides Dancer, there’s training Rush. At seven-and-a-half months, Rush is starting to show his boy-ness. (I’m trying hard not to think of it as testosterone poisoning, but it’s pretty obvious the testosterone is kicking in.) I think (looking back) that I’ve done a pretty good job on the basics. He mostly listens to me; he pees on cue; he’s fit and happy; he loves Jay; he cooperates with most things (although right now he’s not fond of his vet at all!); he understands that if the clicker’s out, it’s time to try new things. But 2012? If all goes well, he’ll start competition this year! That’s a scary thought.

Does all that add up to New Year’s resolutions? I suppose these are they:

Be completely consistent about Dancer’s contacts.
Prepare myself and Dancer thoroughly and appropriately for CPE Nationals.
Make sure Rush’s experiences with learning agility are consistently rewarding for him. (Corollary: try not to worry about when he’s ready–just make sure that he is ready before we enter our first competition!)