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December 12, 2020: The Dog and Pony Show: At a Crossroads

Today, Shadow graduated from Beginning Agility class, not with honors, but with high praise from us and from her instructor. We did sequences for the first time today; the obstacles, in order, being the hoop jump, the tunnel, the weave, the table, the three-bar jump, and the dog walk.

Shadow is a fast dog. “Freaking fast,” Claudia said. She gets on the obstacles, scrambles to the end, hits the targets, snarfs down treats, then starts looking for more. She is fearless. The first time through the weave, she smashed into the guidance-type barricades. The first time through the tunnel, which had a bend, she looked for an alternative. The first time

Shadow getting treat at the bottom of the dog walk

over the dog walk, she did not stop at the base but kept going.

This, I think, is in part because she’s always hungry. She’s like a burn barrel full of plastic. She’s burning off calories faster than she can take them in. This is not because she’s a high energy dog, but because she is in such good shape. We get her out every day, for at least a half-hour, most days longer. I took her for a walk this morning thinking that perhaps she would burn off some of this energy before class. Didn’t happen.

In the house she’s fine because she gets plenty of exercise. I often wonder what she’d be like if we didn’t get her out.

And so, class ended with our getting a certificate and heading back outside. I then realized that we are now at a crossroads. The question is, what now? It’s recommended that puppies (and Shadow is seven months) wait until they are one year before doing Agility II. This makes sense to me. But I would like to continue with her training.

I would not see us as being at a crossroads with her training if there was class for the next few weeks. Since this one has come to an end, this then is what I am thinking.

I am going to ask Claudia, the course instructor, what her recommendations might be in terms of Shadow’s training for the next few months. I most likely will continue to do agility with her in the Playground of Higher Learning. But maybe, Claudia will have some more specific recommendations.

I didn’t realize when we decided to get a puppy that it would be a major commitment, time and energy on our part included. I just wasn’t thinking. I sometimes think that this was a good thing because she has brought us great joy. But I also sometimes think that this was a not-so-good-thing because she’s a highly intelligent being, and so we have to stay one step ahead of her when it comes out to figuring out what to do with her next.

Our other dogs, we weren’t this focused. Bootleg was first and her job was to be a good companion. We seem to expect more of Shadow. Why is this? This is a question I need to consider.

Next: 342. 12/13/20: The Dog and Pony Show for Real

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