Well, this weekend was supposed to be a two-day trial. It's one of my favorites held in Winchester, VA, by the Blue Ridge Dog Training Club. It's in a nice indoor sports center. It's a one ring trial so the days are long. The weather forecast was for temperatures well over 100 degrees (38 degrees C). (I think Washington, DC hit 106! Brutal!) Unfortunately, the air conditioning system could not keep up with the hideous temperatures outside and the building went from stuffy in the early morning to downright hot by afternoon.
Our first run of the day was Jumpers. Jimmy was acting a bit odd as he did not want to be in the area by the ring where we queue up. He kept trying to lead me away and was nervous. This is very unusual as I normally have to shield his view of the dogs running before us so he won't bark his fool head off in enthusiasm for his turn. I played little games with him and he focused, and in we went. It was a nice easy course and despite some clumsy handling by me, Jimmy saved the run and we Q'd, coming in 7th. Yea! He ran for his post-run peanut butter reward and chowed down. I walked him around a bit to cool off and then took him to the crating area which was getting so warm, yuck!
Several hours later it was time for our Standard run. It was an interesting course with some tough challenges. I got Jimmy out of his crate earlier than I normally would because I wanted to hang out in the large bathroom as that was one of the only semi-cool spots. With about 10 dogs to go, I headed for the line-up. Again Jimmy did not want to go. He tried even harder to lead me away. I grabbed my bag of tiny treats and sat in a chair near the ring. Jimmy sat right at my feet and would not so much as nibble a treat. He wouldn't play any games, either. When I needed to get in line three dogs out from our turn, Jimmy started to shake with his tail tucked as tightly as possible. It was the kind of fear reaction he has to thunder storms or fireworks. Totally NOT his normal behavior for agility! He toughed it out and we went in the ring. I thought he might loosen up when the game started. I put him in a start-line stay, went out past the second jump and released him. He just sat there, looking miserable. I released again, and he bee-lined for the exit! (I give him a lot of credit here for being a smart boy and knowing where to go to leave the ring!) All I could think to myself was WTF? I had no idea why he was so scared. I tried to reward him but he was so scared he had no interest in food. He just wanted away from the ring! As I left the area, one of my corgi-owning pals came by and suggested I get Jimmy to a vet and check for pain. She felt his body language suggested that. I definitely hadn't thought of that as his reaction was so exactly like thunderstorm fear. Fortunately, a canine masseuse was there and as luck would have it had a break in her very busy schedule just when I needed it! She checked Jimmy out and both his hamstrings were balled into tight knots, probably from clenching and shivering so badly. She worked to relax them and as Jimmy calmed she also found that his iliopsoas was knotted. This is very definitely NOT a muscle you want trouble with! It is painful and takes months to rehab! She worked and worked, and was able to release the knot. She could tell it was not a full blown muscle strain based on Jimmy's reactions. He eventually relaxed so much that he lay down on his side, tongue lolling out, eyes closed. He didn't even get up when she stopped the massage! She felt he was probably dehydrated
from the heat, combined with the normal stress of a trial, and had tensed up badly. She also recommended no more agility or heavy activity for a while. So of course I pulled our day-two entries! The heat wasn't going to ease and I certainly won't take any chances with his muscles!
So all in all, very odd! I don't know if his fear was related to his muscles. I guess only time will tell. He's got a chiro appt in a week so I will get the vet's opinion then as well.
Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 21 (out of 10 needed for his MXJ) Now he's working on his MXJ3!
Excellent B STD legs: 7 (out of 10 needed for his MX) Better than halfway to our MX!
Double Q's: 5 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH.... 25 Percent!)
MACH Points: 396 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH...... 53 Percent!)
Time 2 Beat legs: 4 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 32 points (out of 100 needed)