That's what we call it now - Ra'gility. Pu Head loves doing 'gilities. I had hoped that she would be a herding dog but, she thought herding should be a speed sport and, oddly enough, the judges didn't agree with her. So I've decided to put her need for speed to better use.
We started agility classes this spring - before the National. I lucked out and found a trainer who teaches classes less than a mile from the house! Down side? Classes are outside. Normally, classes would have gone on hiatus for the summer because it gets too hot here to work outside in the summer (it does?) but an opportunity to rent an indoor facility in C'ville came up so, we've been there for the last 3 months. When the current session ends (mid-October) we will move back outside. These VA people are crazy! Agility outside in the winter and inside in the summer????
Anyway, training Ra for agility has been a completely different experience than training Sam. When I started training Sam in the winter of 2004, we did very little foundation work. Sam had to complete an obedience class and then we moved on to agility. In the agility class we did a little bit of target work and then moved almost immediately to what my current instructor calls "the sexy stuff" - running sequences. I think I entered Sam in his first trial 10 months after we started classes. I had a dog who wasn't reliable on weaves and totally couldn't weave on the off-side, wouldn't work ahead of me, knocked bars all the time because he was too busy looking at me while he ran, didn't do rear crosses - basically all the stuff you need to have a really successful agility dog. Sam and I had a great time with agility though and I credit it with building and strengthening the close bond we share now.
Ra has been doing nothing but foundation work since March. Just last week we did more than 2 obstacles in a sequence. She is learning weaves using the 2x2 method - we are working on entries now and haven't done any real weaving yet. She's barely been on the teeter - we are still working on not being afraid of the bang (a Pu Head issue w/noise). It's a whole different ball game with a whole different dog. Ra is much more obstacle focused than Sam ever was - once she knows we are doing 'gilities, there's no stopping her. My handling is going to have to improve dramatically - along with my physical fitness. This little dog is a lawn rocket. I'm either going to have to keep up or learn to handle from a distance - probably a combination of the two.
I'm aiming for our first trials in March 2010; one indoor and a couple weeks later an outdoor trial. Then it will be the National at the end of April. It's looking like her sister, Scout, might do agility at the National too. And a half-sister, Drew, will probably be there too. What fun!
Ann is taking agility classes with Bogey too. Not to worry - he's not doing ANY jumping, yet. Our instructor is very aware of the special needs of Cardis and won't ask him to do anything he shouldn't. Bogey is already doing very well in class - his job is to clean the tunnel of treats after dogs who aren't confident enough to go through without some incentive. I think this will be a great experience for both of them. Obedience was a little too regimented for Mr. B, and Ann too, I think. They both seem to be enjoying the class so far and it will certainly help build their relationship.
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