Splish Splash: Weekly Agility Update

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Agility days are a pretty big deal for Rain and me. On these days I leave work early, get home early, play a bit with Rain, then gather our things and head for the countryside. We stop at the local park for a bit, then head over to class. After class we play for a while in the pens in back of the arena, then I try to extract her as quietly as possible before heading home for the evening.

It’s a bit of a production. Rain, ideally, should be mentally tired by the end of all that. If not, I certainly am! This week was even more tiring because it was a pretty warm summer day—and Rain has been showing some signs of warm weather wearing on her.

When we went to the park then, I threw the ball for her only a few minutes before I decided she was getting pretty warm. We discovered a modest footpath that circumnavigated the field and ended up walking around the park for the rest of our visit. Rain was warm and while I had a bowl, I anticipated using water at the arena so hadn’t thought to bring some for the park.

We also made a brief stop at the farm next door to the agility arena. They were selling all sorts of summertime fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Clackamas County is mostly rural and offers an amazing variety of farm produce if you’re able to travel to family farms. We highly recommend it!

Thus, we arrived with less buffer time before class than usual, but I filled Rain’s bowl up with water and parked it next to the pad she’s supposed to stay parked on at the beginning of class.

Our arena is covered but basically open-air, with tall rafters and large open doors on either side. Normally it might be a shady respite on a warmer summer day. On this day, however, someone had thought to wet down the dirt in the arena itself to keep down the dust. Combined with the warm afternoon heat, it was pretty humid inside.

Rain was showing signs of being antsy, so I ended up taking her to different obstacles in order to work even when it wasn’t our turn to do a particular exercise. She got plenty of opportunity to show off on the wobble board, to demonstrate how well she’s learning to take jumps, and so on.

That said, Rain seems to have hit a wall in doing her circus elephant trick. She’ll get to a certain point around her stepstool and get stuck. She’ll either just dance in place or take her front paws off the stool! Molly says the dogs want to see you at all times, so there’s a big breakthrough when they take a leap of faith and swing in front of you over to the other side so they can look at you the other direction. We’re not there yet, but we continue our work.

Rain has an even bigger challenge though—an exercise involving a board. The exercise is training her to be able to put her back paws on a target (the board) while her front paws are off. This is working up toward making sure dogs hit their contact zones on certain obstacles. Rain and I have been terrible at this exercise! Molly took it a step back for us and worked with us a little more closely. I’m hoping to practice this in the coming weeks while the facility is closed and we don’t have class.

Molly probably wanted us to feel like we had a win for the evening, so we did get to show her and our classmates Linda and Jeanette (and Kate and Zarra) our big tug of war breakthrough. In the process Rain scratched my legs and arms, and that may have been when I tweaked my back, leading me to more problems that evening and over the weekend.

It was about that time, after Rain had put a ton more energy into tug of war, that she walked up to the arena door and whined like she wanted out. I took her outside and she peed, then we went back in. A few minutes later, she pooped. From that moment until the end of class, her energy was different. We did a few tunnel practices and she did great, but she wasn’t quite as energetic or focused as she usually is.

After class we wandered outside to discover someone had set up a kiddy pool in one of the pens! Rain has reportedly had mixed reactions when facing a kiddy pool, but I decided to give it a shot.

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About 30 seconds passed before she gingerly stepped in the water. Soon after that she was circling, splashing, and biting at the splashes.

Ever vigilant, every so often she’d stop to look at a dog that was coming to the next class.

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As soon as she got out of the pool the first time, I could tell she was a lot happier. She must have been a hot dog! She shook her fur out, ran around the pen, then flopped on her back and wriggled around on the grass. After a few minutes she was back in the pool for a second, and later a third round.

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When we left several minutes later, Rain was looking back to her perky self.

This was our last agility class until September! The arena where our class happens is closed for a few weeks for maintenance. Whether I’ll be able to fill the gap with other Rain-related content remains to be seen, but I’ll do my best.

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