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April 9, 2022: Dogged

A beautiful day, a bit on the cold side though. I want sunny weather and warmth. My theory is that the remaining snow on the ground (and we still have quite a bit of it) creates a cooler air temperature.

Late this afternoon we ventured out to Sirius Dog Ranch, which is located of Higher Road. It’s a long ways to go, and quite often I wish that there was a agility facility closer to where we live.

No such luck.

Shadow and Pete last summer

I managed to convince Pete to do two classes out there at the dog ranch, one this week and one next week. The weekend of April 23rd, he and Shadow will do an agility trial; six runs. Shadow will go in the novice competition. If she does well, she will then compete in the open division.

Claudia, the instructor, has done an excellent job in preparing Pete and Shadow for the upcoming competition. The training has been very exacting. Claudia has explained all the rules and gone over many obstacle variations.

Today was our first trip out to Sirius. The arena is in a large, metal building – the facility is exclusively for dog agility classes and trials. Apparently, it is a very popular place – Claudia had to get on the schedule in order to teach her class there.

Inside, there are two working areas separated by orange snow fencing. The obstacles are much like Claudia’s – the one difference is that Claudia has a smaller work area. The work area at Sirius is much larger, so the dogs have more room between obstacles to run. Monte, an English Shepherd, and Cody, a Border Collie mix, had previously been worked at Sirius, so they were familiar with the obstacles and used to the distances. This, again, was Shadow’s first time there.

Monte and Cody moved faster than I had ever seen them go. It seemed to me that Shadow was slower, maybe because everything was new to her. A more apt word is cautious. She did not take off and do the wrong obstacles, but a few times she looked at Pete as if to say, “you want me to do what?”

There were times when in watching the dogs, I wondered how it came to be that they had learned to do what they now do so well. For instance, all three dogs remained in the sit position at the start; that is, until their owners gave them the release/jump cue.

The dogs also looked to the owners for directional information. The owners then cued the dogs, who in one instance either went over the A-Frame or into the tunnel.

Some may ask, why do agility? The answer is that this is a form of obedience work – dog and owners (in this order) learn to communicate with one another in this very physically and mentally engaging sport. There is then transference – the well-trained agility dog will then just naturally remain attentive to their owner’s commands.

Pete isn’t as big on doing agility as I am. So most likely, in a month, I will pick up where he leaves off.

Next: 98. 4/10/22: A Day at Home

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