Around and Around: Weekly Agility Report

It has been an amazingly wet spring in the Pacific northwest. Our area is already known for its rain, but this spring has been wreaking havoc on the area. Farmers have been covering fields with plastic just so they can plant crops without more delay, and some spring crops have already had harvest delays due to our dearth of sun.

Rain and I have been extremely lucky the last several weeks then, as going to agility has been a pretty consistently sunny affair! This week, some heavy showers raged outside my office window in the morning, but almost as soon as I left work to get Rain the sun broke through and everything was dry through the evening.

We even discovered some patches of blooming camas flowers before class this week! The one above was at the park, but as we headed through a low patch on the property where our classes were held, I noticed dozens of blooming camas flowers where we had been seeing swampy grass for weeks prior.

When we started class this week, Molly had us introduce our dog to taking a jump “backwards,” by running around the side and jumping back toward us. It seemed to me that Rain and I have been doing something pretty similar for a while now! I called this “around” as I had with similar exercises, and Rain caught on right away, moving so fast that no camera could catch her completely in focus.

Once we had been drilling this a while, Molly had us start switching up “around” (taking a jump coming toward us) with “over” (taking a jump going away from us). This was mostly to make clear we weren’t trying to retrain them to take jumps the other way now. This is where Rain got a little confused at times! Perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been with my arm, but I think her doggy brain may have been getting a little tired of this activity by then. After all, she can only drill something for so long.

After teaching the initial command, Molly set up a modest course that consisted of a line of jumps and a dog walk. We started one jump from the end—the dog was to wrap around the wing of that jump, then get on the dog walk which would take them to the back of the line of jumps. At that point we were practicing “go on,” with the dog taking the jumps ahead of us.

Rain and I got stuck a few times transitioning from the end of the dog walk to the line of jumps. Rain kept taking the first jump and then running alongside the others. Molly told me that as Rain came over the first jump, I should try pointing to her line—she was taking the first jump at an angle and then continuing to move out from there. When I tried what Molly suggested, Rain did great!

In order to get Rain to quickly drive forward through the line of jumps, Molly asked me for a toy that Rain would be excited about. I hadn’t pulled it out in class for some time, but I got Rain’s rope toy and handed it to Molly. As soon as I did, I didn’t exist to Rain—we had a hard time getting Rain’s focus off of Molly (who was hiding the rope in her jacket at this point) so she’d go with me to start the exercise. Remember when Rain didn’t know how to play with her rope toy? These days when I get the rope toy at home, Rain gets really revved up and we can play tug of war for a while before Rain lets up even just a little.

Once we had all made it through the course, it was time to go. Rain and I headed out to play ball in the pens out back. The neighbor’s cows were out grazing, and I am quite certain that this steer was impressed by Rain’s fetch-playing prowess.

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