Pinwheel Mania and the Future of the Park: Weekly Agility Report

Agility this week was all about pinwheel work. Molly set up a pinwheel of six jumps around an imaginary box and we worked with those for our entire hour together!

Once again our class just consisted of two teams, but different teams than last time. Rudy was the other dog in class this week and Poppy was gone—last week Poppy was in class while Rudy’s owner was co-chairing an obedience show at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds which required her presence from Friday through Sunday.

In the first pinwheel exercise, we were challenged to send our dog around all the jumps without crossing a certain invisible line at the end of each side. The jumps that had been placed past that line required us to reinforce the “out” command, driving the dog away from us to get a jump. Once each dog was successful we reversed course. This can expose a “weak side,” meaning the side (relative to the handler) where the dog isn’t performing as strong as on the other side.

Rudy went first, and Molly discovered that Rudy’s obedience side is his weak side. This meant he nailed the exercise going one way, but erred on the other. Rain did pretty well but it took us a couple of attempts to get the “out” just right. I’m not sure if I was cueing it too late or Rain needed a reminder since I was further back than usual (behind the line), but once we got it she did great on both sides.

While Rudy was working, Molly told his owner about a recent workshop she had attended with a noteworthy trainer. In the workshop, this trainer emphasized the importance of one’s tone of voice when working with a dog. Molly said that during this workshop, she became aware of her vocal tendencies. In class she was noticing how Rudy’s owner already had a great way of delivering commands. Assertive, not questioning, and not demanding. When I’m running alongside Rain I think I tend to just yell like the dickens, so I might start taking note of my own tendencies in order to improve them as well.

In the second exercise, we did a X-style pattern with the four main jumps. The goal was to send the dog and do a front cross (that is, you’re crossing their line of motion in front of them) before sending them to the next jump.

It doesn’t seem like doing two exercises with two dogs should take an hour of class time, does it? And yet in our new class, which is more advanced, we frequently slow down and really fine-tune what both dog and handler are doing. Which takes more time.

That said, I’m really glad that Rain and I made the leap to this new class time! It feels like we’re in the right class for our skill level, and it’s really nice to enjoy class when it’s light outside.

ONE MORE THING!

When we got to the park before class this week, the sign below was in the parking lot. It seems there are new efforts afoot to develop this lovely field. Now, from the sign it looks like they’re only proposing to add an Instagram filter, a dog, and a woman to the park. In our experience, that’s what the “before” should look like, because that’s what it’s like every time we visit. 🙂

But last year I found an iteration of plans for the park that included building some baseball diamonds and other facilities that might make the place much less dog-friendly. It looks like they’re holding a survey online through May 15th…even if you’re a future park visitor, perhaps you could speak up for keeping the site open for burning off canine energy through lots of space for off-leash fetching? Rain and I would sure appreciate it.

Rain would also appreciate your help in saving one of her favorite mud puddles from being filled in…

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