About a month ago I signed Rain up for another “fun run” to keep us working on our agility skills. This event would be held at one of the Columbia Agility Team practice barns, this one near Champoeg State Park. As usual there wouldn’t be a lot of space inside the building so dogs would need be crated in their cars—prepare for heat, they said.
That’s not quite what happened. Instead, we got an afternoon with long periods of rain showers, at times heavy. Regular readers of RitF probably remember how much effort I’ve put in to Rain’s periodic aversion to cars, which appears to be based on rainy weather. As you may suspect then, Rain wasn’t terribly happy waiting in the car while I went inside to orient myself, sign in, and walk the course. I hadn’t brought a raincoat either, so I was less willing to hang out with her outside.
This fun run had significantly fewer participants than the one we went to in September, and that was partly by design. Columbia Agility Team has apparently set some rules on their events: registration was done in advance, a limited number of spots was available, and the price structure was a little different as well. It cost more for us to go, but I think the event ran better overall.
The run order was tall to small (based on jump height) so Rain was roughly in the middle of the group as a whole.
Rain’s first run mostly consisted of her putting more effort into barking than paying attention to my cues. This was quite similar to our prior fun run! I cued going up the A-frame, she went into the tunnel. I cued it again, she jumped on top of the tunnel. Finally on my third attempt I put my leg where I thought she HAD to do the right thing. We didn’t even get through the whole course during our first run.
We exited the arena and the rain had died down so we went to check out the grassy lot around the arena. It wasn’t until I started making efforts to move toward the car that Rain switched into frozen mode, with wide eyes.
When that didn’t work, she switched into toddler mode and decided to lie down and refuse to move.
It was during this time a woman with two small dogs started expressing that she was having some problems with her car. It seems the electrical system was having an issue of some sort. She had a late-model Subaru Forester with keyless entry and ignition, so this was a big problem. At one point her dogs were stuck inside the car, but once that got figured out then she was just unable to start her engine. A mighty problem, given that she lived in Washington.
As for the rain, it did eventually die down and while Rain wasn’t entirely happy waiting in the car, we made it work.
Our second run was better. We made it through the course, but Rain didn’t get the channel weaves correctly, even once. That’s okay though—she’s just starting to get it in class. Shortly after our second run I had a realization: it was all quite a lot to ask of Rain. Taking her to a completely new place, not giving her time to check out the arena, putting her in the scary car with the scary noise and then expecting her to perform shortly after getting her out—it could take a lot out of a doggo, so it’s no wonder she was so discombulated during her first run.
The lady with the broken car and the small dogs had called AAA, who would dispatch someone to help her. In the meantime she ran her second round and I held both of her dogs while she was running the other. They were both cairn terriers, one brown and one black. Both very cute and open to a stranger’s pets.
Once everyone had cycled through the second run there were very few people left and still 45 minutes before the arena needed to be vacated. We did a third run, of which the organizer suggested we “end on a positive note” by only doing obstacles the dog enjoys or finds fun. So that’s what I did with Rain—mostly jumps, tunnels, and the dog walk. Just whatever struck my fancy.
After some of us helped the organizer straighten up the space a little bit, I figured it would be safe to head home. AAA had arrived for the woman with the dead car, but the contractor had a policy of not going on grass for calls—a big problem! A few people were gathered around her and the dispatched trucker to find a resolution to her issue as Rain and I headed back north toward home.