Black Diamond Dog: Weekly Agility Report

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Our weekly trip to agility once again began with a very eager Rain hopping in the car. Maintaining silence until we neared Wilco, Rain’s voice erupted once she realized where she was.

As we hustled through the aisles, I wondered whether those following our adventures might think we’re paid by Wilco to endorse their little regional chain of farm stores. (We’re not.) I wondered whether Wilco might like a sassy little Aussie to be their spokesdog.

Rain was behaving well so I decided to let her have a peep at the tubs full of spring chicks. When she realized the high-pitched peeps were coming from the scurrying fuzzballs her whole body perked up, but she maintained her composure. She also said hello to a couple more Wilco employees during this visit, although she knew just who to approach when she wanted cookies—the young woman who usually gives her cookies was at a different register but Rain wasn’t fooled.

It was a pretty rainy evening! Playing fetch in the pens behind the arena resulted in our getting soaked within minutes.

At the start of class, Molly asked if Rain and I would like to switch to one of her other classes, in the afternoon on a different day of the week. Two time slots were available, and each of those classes are working on sequencing, which is what Rain is starting to work on.

It sounded like a great idea! The only trouble is that I’ve already made special arrangements at work to come to class. Coming to a class earlier in the afternoon, and on “deadline day” at work may take some extra effort. I told Molly I’d see what I could do.

Once we got going, we practiced some exercises involving our dogs coming to our side and staying in step as we moved, sometimes with crosses and sometimes not. Rain got to work on a sequence (seen below) of table, tunnel, jump, tunnel, table, reward. She has been a little forgetful on the pause table lately, but I don’t see this as a difficult problem to fix.

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Later on I was chatting a little with Liz and asked if I could pet Pippa, the squeaky cute cairn terrier. Once I did so, I realized that it was the first time I had been able to pet one of the other dogs! In fact, Rain was letting me converse with our fellow students without making a ruckus that I wasn’t 100% focused on her. It was glorious.

When I pointed this out to Linda, who has been our classmate since the beginning, she confirmed to Liz that Rain is a “black diamond dog,” referring to the symbol for trails and ski slopes that are for an advanced skill level. I thought it an apt description for Rain and for Aussies as a breed in general.

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We closed out class with a run through the weave pole channel. Molly is starting to close the channel a bit for Rain, and she challenged us to start trying to enter the weave from off-left or off-right instead of straight on.

Rain didn’t succeed at the challenge—between Josie running loose through the arena moments before and the noise of the next class arriving, I thought maybe Rain was pretty done for the night. Since I was still wet and the temperature was dropping, so was I! We headed home and dried out as much as we could before heading to sleep for the night.

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