Curses—foiled again! There was no agility class this week due to the threat of freezing rain. Here’s last week’s report. Keen eyes may note the lack of original photography…
Rain got to show off in the agility class after ours when classes finally resumed earlier this month. Now we’ve returned back to our regular time slot, but with mostly fresh faces.
At the top of class, Molly asked how I enjoyed visiting the other class last week. I felt a little boastful and admitted it was fun since Rain clearly held her own among those who had been taking agility longer than we have. (We started coming to agility last April.)
Why is Rain still going to the earlier class if the dogs in this class are brand new? Good question!
First, class size. The later class has several students, and our class currently has just three humans and three dogs including Rain. We get more individual attention this way, and now that Molly is circling back to teaching what we learned last spring, Rain gets to learn more advanced skills at her own pace.
Additionally: last week I mentioned the later class is much more social and boisterous than ours. Our small class focuses on learning, and that’s a big bonus to me. When your dog demands to be engaged all of the time, it’s tough to handle long distractions in class.
This week we got to meet our new classmates. Linda is back with her other Westie named Leo, as Kate has been dogged by some physical ailments. We were also joined by Donna and her black goldendoodle Josie. Donna and I got acquainted and I figured out that she lives down the street from two friends of mine! There’s a fourth dog/handler team supposedly in our class but we haven’t met them yet. The woman is experienced at agility and is just starting to work with a new puppy.
Molly had us all demonstrate our board skills, which Rain and I hadn’t practiced for quite a while. As we tested her, it became apparent that Rain did not yet know the vocal command (“feet”) I had assigned. Truthfully though, even I forgot what it was when Molly asked! It was only after she ran through a few that I remembered what we had used last fall.
Next, Molly had Rain and I do a sequence, which is one of the reasons we had some trouble in the previous week’s class. Essentially a sequence means delayed gratification: instead of obstacle, cookie; obstacle, cookie; she is being asked to do multiple obstacles before getting her reward. (To be fair though, Rain doesn’t get to practice tunnels away from the arena and we hadn’t done them for a while. I think this played at least a small role in our trip-ups the previous week.)
Molly had us do a straight tunnel followed by a curved tunnel. Since Rain runs faster than I do, she also had me start giving a verbal cue for the next tunnel while she was still in the first. We made a few runs, and by the end Rain was looking like a pro.
And that was class for the week! We started heading out and another bonus of getting to know the other class became apparent. Those students now had enough familiarity with Rain to know that when she barks her head off at them, she is just being a loudmouth, not a bloodthirsty cur. One man, who accompanies his son and corgi to class, politely inquired whether we would be joining them again. It felt nice to be appreciated!