Happy to be Back: Weekly Agility Update

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Is there any sight as satisfying as the face of a happy dog? When you know the dog in question hasn’t done a lot of smiling in her life, it’s a great sight to see. This week, Rain seemed to be really happy to be going to agility.

It started when she jumped in the car without any coaxing when it was time to leave! (Perhaps you’ll recall her past reluctance to ride in my car.)

Perhaps she recognized the routine, and was happy to get back to it after our August break. But the weather was beautiful, Rain was happy, and we had a great fall afternoon/evening together!

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First we stopped off at the country park to play ball and walk around sans leash. Much like last week’s leash incident, there were a couple of times when Rain dropped her ball in the grass and it took us a while to find it. The field is riddled with critter holes, and it’s easy to lose a faded tennis ball when it rolls into a depression surrounded by dry summer grass.

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Rain was excited to arrive at agility but fairly quiet about it until the end of class. After noshing on her doggy pacifier (Kong), she started making a bit of noise so Molly put us to work right away. We got to be the first up on all exercises during this particular class session.

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As you can see, Rain is doing pretty well with the board exercise, which has now progressed into doing the same thing on the giant piece of cheese (above). Eventually this will morph into learning how to stay on the contact zone of certain obstacles like the A-frame and teeter.

Molly wanted to review a few types of turns we hadn’t revisited since before the August break, so she asked me to get Rain’s rope toy and Rain performed perfectly.

Then it was Kate and Linda’s turn to go, and Molly pulled out a homemade toy made out of polar fleece to try and help Kate along. When she placed it on the ground, Rain caught sight of it and stood up, focusing on the toy about 25 feet away. She kept staring.

After reviewing that, Molly asked us to do a super-fast figure eight using two cones. There was a trick though: she increased the distance of the cones, she wanted us to go fast, and she wanted me to remember which one the “front cross” was. In other words was supposed to remember what I was doing.

It was too much! Rain didn’t make it all the way out to the cones, I didn’t remember which hand I was supposed to guide her to the other end with, and it was a royal mess.

But that was the point! Molly was challenging us in multiple ways at once. We dialed it back a little bit and eventually got through the requested exercise before it was Kate and Linda’s turn.

As our classmates were working on the figure 8s, Rain started getting restless and fussy. I decided to take her to the side of the arena to have her do off-leash jumps. As she completed her second jump she ran over to Molly’s bag on a nearby chair. That homemade fleece toy was resting on the edge! Rain put her paws up on the bag and grabbed the toy.

I grabbed the other end and before I knew it we were fully engaged in tug of war. Rain must have thought the fleece toy was her rope when she saw it, and wanted to play tug! A few minutes into our session I realized we were damaging Molly’s stuff instead of our own, and grabbed our rope in order to continue the game.

After class, Rain seemed pretty pleased with the evening and we headed home without Rain making her usual ado. She was a happy puppy and started dozing off under my mom’s chair when I was giving her the download on the evening’s class.

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