At long last! The weather started cooperating again this week and agility was actually going to happen for the first time since early December.
There would be changes. All the dogs in our class besides Rain will be new to agility, and two of the people will be new. Linda’s dog Kate is having some issues so she’s starting her other dog, Leo; and two newbies and their canine companions will join us in class each week. Jeannette and her dog Zarra are both having some physical challenges so they won’t be back just yet.
There’s a class that meets after ours each week, and Molly told me to bring Rain to the late class the first week. She wore her blue bandana in order to make a good impression on the strangers.
We were supposed to have two weeks of agility games when the weather went bad in December, and Molly planned to make the first night back more about fun and review than about work. To that end, Molly created a friendly competition for us all to take part in.
She first asked if anyone could perform certain skills on demand (turn left, turn right, sit pretty, take a bow, weave through the legs). Rain and I stepped forward for every single task and performed adequately. Eventually these tasks got a little more difficult and comparative, like seeing who could back their dog straight up the farthest without crossing a line on the arena floor. The last section of the class we started using obstacles and timing to see who could complete the sequence of tasks the fastest.
Overall Rain more than held her own among this more experienced group! I had always assumed that the later class had been doing agility much longer than our class that started last spring. While that may be true, there weren’t a lot of people volunteering to show us how someone’s dog can weave through his/her legs or do right/left circles without being lured. (And we still had rolling over in our back pocket!)
“But did anyone else have an Aussie or border collie?” my mom later asked.
No, but there were two corgis which are also herding dogs. There were two Bernese mountain dogs, which were adorable to watch galumphing around, and a chocolate-colored miniature poodle. Apparently the poodle does conformation because she had a fancy haircut and had to wear a special coat to protect her fur.
One sequence all the dogs took in hopes of having the fastest time involved a pause table, jump, and tunnels. Rain was solid on her pause table work, taking jumps is second nature to her now…but we didn’t do so well on the tunnels! Rain went past the tunnel entrance, she went in and then came back out again, she barked at me, the tunnels slowed us down sooooo much! Of course Molly made sure to let me know that at least part of it was handling. Just making sure I don’t get smug about my own abilities, I guess. 🙂
It was clear that Rain was really happy to be back in class. She may have recognized where we were going even before we left, because she hopped right into the car without hesitation. Once at the property we got to play fetch in the dark out behind the arena again. Rain got opportunities to run and jump and even bark at other dogs running around the course at their top speed. A couple of times, when she glided onto the pause table and patiently waited for my release command, I realized that doing agility takes advantage of her natural strengths in a way that she gets to sparkle.