Thursday, April 12, 2012

Canine Robert Redford

Last night I took the pooch to a "Small Dog Agility Seminar." Basically it was an hour with a couple of trainers who know agility so you can see if your dog has an aptitude for obstacles. In the case of my dog and obstacles there's a temptation to stick one's tongue out and whine, "It takes one to know one!"

The first short course the trainer, Sarah, set up was 2 jumps, jumping through a tire, ending with 2 jumps. By the second time through it she saw immediately that Ed could take a higher jump so she raised them all for him. As she did that I was unleashing him and hadn't quite gotten him into a sit/stay. He took off and I didn't want to squelch him so I tried to keep up and he finished the course as she was fixing the last jump. He got no treats until the end where most dogs were getting treats after every obstacle and some after every 2 or 3. While he was happy to take treats they really weren't integral to his enjoyment. He didn't like stopping to take a treat when he was just hitting his stride.

He didn't get everything the first time. (Thank goodness!) There were things that he thought could be done better his way and things that stressed him out a little but he conquered them. The look on his face as he leaped and pulled and freaked trying to see where I was the other end of the very open tunnel calling to him...almost had me peeing myself with laughter. His last choice was THROUGH but he finally made it. Later Sarah curved the tunnel so he couldn't see me even if he chose to look and that was another challenge but he got it with help. His first time stepping through the ladder he also thought that was stupid. It was slowing him down! NO STOP! JUST GO! He was happy to do it again when I led him back, though, and he wound up being the only one to do the ladder walk at its full height.

Eddie did not provide the biggest laugh of the night, though. One dog had both his people there and he'd done agility before. One of them would take him through a course while the other sat in a chair at one end of the room and then they'd switch. I think they were working on agility to help with his energy level and a little nervous behavior and it was clearly a great fit because he's a sweetheart. He loved doing everything...except the tunnel. When the tunnel was curved he headed over the jumps, saw the opening,  switched direction slightly, and with one mighty leap he went up and crosswise over bend of the tunnel, briefly touching off with his back legs, and into the lap of his seated grown up. She was horrified. Apparently she'd thought he was going to fall on his face. I don't think that would have slowed him down at all, he's a lot tougher than that. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

The Edster did get a ton of compliments. Everyone remarked on the amount of "spring" he had in him. He got good marks for every course he did and everyone thought he was cute. Before we began he recognized the room from his previous training and started to offer up all the things he knew could earn treats so we wound up showing his handstand and working on getting it off the wall. Sarah said she'd seen a lot of dogs do the handstand but none, except Frankie's, do it so well, and Frankie is the one who taught the trick to us. My proudest moment of the evening, though, was when Sarah asked, "Does he have a decent sit/stay?" and I could say, "Yes." All I could do not to shout, "Yes! YES! YES HE DOES! HALLELUJAH!" I never thought I'd be able to teach a dog that but he does it and often in extreme circumstances like sitting on a curb while I step out into the street to see if there's traffic. He's a good, smart dude.

I wish you guys could have seen him. He couldn't have had more fun. The worst part for him was waiting his turn to go again. He loves to have a job. I had a good time, too, but I won't lie, it was exhausting. There's absolutely no way I could have taken photos and kept him occupied and that kind of broke my heart. (The photo above is him trying to work out an "educational toy" for dogs when we were visiting NDP a couple of weeks ago.) I made him do tricks in line while we waited because he got so nuts but I think I should probably just have picked him up and held him. He needed to be talked down a little. By the time we left he was so wired he could hardly stand it. With all his bobbing and weaving he probably walked twice as far as I did on our way to the train. Once he got into the carrier bag, though, he was done. Almost refused to come out again when we got back out of the subway.

We'll go again. At least for another seminar if not a multi-session class. The person outside who judges me knows this is an insane way to spend money and time. The person who took this dog sight unseen out of the car of a guy I'd never met before just wants to see him have that much fun again.


  1. Max was really really good at agility too! He loved to jump, he had no fear :-) And run! Congrats to Eddie for doing a great job :-)

  2. hee, that sounds like an absolute BLAST. :D