It was a warm one this week for agility! In the upper 80s, according to the National Weather Service. In fact it had been warm enough all week that Rain’s mudhole is officially dried up, possibly for the season. As Rain is showing her age a bit and I didn’t want her to get overheated before class, we mostly walked around the park during our pre-class visit.
Rain has definitely shown signs of warm weather bothering her more than her Uncle Atticus ever did. She does have a thicker coat, tends to run more as a default, and when it’s warm she is clearly happier once she has had a dip in some water. That said, doesn’t seem like a bad idea to go back to visiting Wilco (which has air conditioning) over the summer.
When we arrived for class we weren’t surprised to see the kiddy pool out, but we were surprised when we went into the pen and it was empty! There was a hose that seemed to be unfurled for hosing down dogs and the like, so I dragged it up to the pen but then had second thoughts. Would it be okay to fill up the pool, especially as we were the last class for the week? I didn’t want to further annoy the property owner or anyone else. I wandered back down to ask Molly, who said she just hadn’t gotten to it before her first class started, so I had her blessing.
Once Rain dipped her toes in, she was a happy dog. She would get in the kiddy pool, splash around, climb out, roll around with her back on the grass, get up, shake out, then climb back into the pool to start the cycle again. Sometimes she would decide she wanted to fetch the ball, and she was clearly happier while wet and in the shade.
Jackie was at class when we arrived, but during the earlier class Cedar had started limping so she had switched dogs and was going to head out. Hunter and his person were absent from class too. This meant that our class only consisted of Linda, Aria, Rain, and me! Because the other dog was angelic little Aria and they sat far away, Rain was way more chill during class than she normally was. At one point she and Aria were even saying howdy. It was such a nice break from spending the whole class hyperfocused on engaging with Rain just so she wouldn’t make a ruckus.
First Rain and I ran a course of 11 obstacles, mostly down and back so it wasn’t very difficult to get the order straight in my head. Molly also suggested lowering the jump height to keep Rain from working too hard in the warmth.
Once we had run through the course once Molly asked why I had done a lead out with Rain on my right side. I didn’t have a solid answer, and Molly pointed out that because the course curved the other direction at the end of the line, I was making it more difficult than it needed to be. She had asked someone else the same thing in another class, and he said that he usually walks his dog on the right so it felt more natural. Rain is usually on my left but I’m right handed so it’s possible that’s why I gravitated to it. At any rate, we ran a second time with Rain starting on my left side, and turns out it did go a bit better!
Even so, I felt like I had some difficulty with a specific jump, and we were taking it twice, in opposite directions, during the course. After our second run I suddenly felt like the arena had warmed up so we let Linda and Aria go before doing the course a third and final time. Which we nailed!
Aria doesn’t yet know all the obstacles, so they only ran seven of the eleven Rain and I had done. Afterward they worked on the next step for introducing Aria to the teeter (obstacle #10).
Then we worked on weaves, which I now have a renewed excitement and determination about. Rain and I had practiced with our first two poles every weeknight using Molly’s recommendations from the prior week, but I had come up with even more questions that we talked about in class. Specifically, I had realized the night before that Rain wasn’t learning how to do the weaves approaching from my left side, and not every course is going feature an approach on the right. (DUH, self.) Molly got us going on correcting the thing I had been doing wrong (WHOOPS!) and gave advice on our ongoing challenges with treating after a successful weave. (Our fake Lotus Ball tends to open when I toss it, often tossing the treat into the grass again and slowing things down while Rain looks for it, which is exactly the problem we had before.)
Aria is way ahead of us on this one, as they’ve been working on 2×2 weaves for months. She is currently using a total of four poles, and while they’re not in a straight line yet, they’re getting closer. During class Linda and Molly will often stand on either side of the poles and run Aria back and forth through them. She still makes mistakes, but she’s doing great.
Apparently my renewed determination about weave poles has been contagious. When I stated that weave poles are the only agility obstacle Rain doesn’t have now, and I’d like her to learn them before she dies, Molly claimed that it would be the “Summer of Weaves,” that Rain would be weaving before our summer break in August. I do like having goals but I’m not sure that one is realistic, so I’m going to try not to give that ‘deadline’ much weight. Dogs above a certain age may need longer to learn new things, and as I’m starting to notice Rain aging I feel a bit like we’re in a race against time.
One thing that Rain has no problem with, however, is enjoying the pool on a hot day. When class was over we went back to the pool for a while to splash around before heading home. We wanted to make sure that it was worth filling the pool up even though we were the only ones using it. So use it Rain did before we headed home for a quiet evening.