Kicking It Up a Notch: Weekly Agility Update


The skies cleared up just in time for agility class this week, so we were able to enjoy dry grass and sunny skies at the park before class.

Before we even left home, Rain started barking her head off around the time she figured out we were heading to agility. She seemed really excited, and hopped right into the car again. This is GREAT! It seems like Rain enjoys our weekly trek and perhaps she’s starting to associate going into the car with GOOD TIMES. I really hope that’s the case.

We got to agility early, and instead of giving her the puppy pacifier right away I decided to use the time to practice sending her into tunnels. She had a couple of misfires, but ever since a breakthrough in July when we rewarded her by throwing a ball instead of a treat, she has really done great at doing the tunnel. She has even started doing a curved tunnel with no problem at all!

When class started we reviewed our work with the board exercise and cheese wedge from last week. Now that the doggies understand what we want, we’re giving the thing a name. I chose “feet.” It sounds silly but it was the best option suggested, and I couldn’t think of anything better.

Next we started learning a rear cross (that’s where the humans cross behind the dog), and then it was time for the big event of the evening. Molly was going to kick it up a notch, and Rain was up first.

Molly stood me in front of a curved tunnel, then laid out a couple of cones about 15-20 feet from each of the two entrances. My task was to send her into the tunnel, do a front cross when she came out the other end, send her around the cone, pick her up and send her back in the tunnel, do the same thing on the other side, and she’d be done after coming out of the second side again.

And oh yeah, I wasn’t allowed to say her name anymore.


What was that, reader? That wasn’t clear? I drew you a visual:



(Note that like Cathy from the comic strip, I am saying “ACK!”)

It’s probably not too hard to believe, but not prefacing each command with Rain’s name was possibly the toughest part of this exercise.

Over the years, it has been embedded in my brain that one should preface a command with the name of the dog.

“Traveler, sit!”
“Breeze, go get the ball!”
“Atticus, down!”

On our first try I was just doing and not really able to think. My brain had short-circuited a bit. Molly had added multiple challenges to this task, a bit like she had the previous week. As with the previous week though, once we tried again and dialed it back just a little bit, we did just fine. This time it made me pretty proud to be the weakest link in our team—as I suspected, Rain is turning out to be a pretty good agility dog!

Then it was time to observe our other classmates doing the same exercise. Once she’s riled up though, Rain’s not the most patient observer. I did what I could to keep her quiet through the rest of class.

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