Monthly Archives: June 2013

Dusty’s First (and Hogan’s Fourth) Agility Trial

Back in March, Hogan won his first qualifying agility ribbon—his first “Q.” He’s been to three trials since then, the most recent this past weekend, but he has yet to repeat that prize-winning performance. (His trainer and others have convinced me he did that first perfect run to get me hooked on agility. It worked!)

Hogan at an agility trial in May.

Hogan at an agility trial in May.

Unfortunately, at this weekend’s trial, not only did Hogan not win a prize; he just didn’t seem at all interested in running the course. Most of the time in class, Hogan seems to have fun. He tires out after his first two or three runs, but he seems to have fun up to that point. This weekend, however, that wasn’t the case. I’m not certain what was going through his head, but I can’t help but wonder if having Dusty and Cora at the trial with him is either distracting or disheartening. Do dogs think that way? Could he be disappointed that it’s no longer just me, him, and his dad?

Anyway, Hogan did provide some entertainment during his Starter Standard run on Saturday. He refused to go into the tunnels, instead jumping on top and walking the length of all three. Even the judge was laughing!

We returned on Sunday despite the rain, and Hogan made a half-hearted attempt at the Starter Standard course again. He won’t even go outside to pee in the rain, so I knew it was hardly worth trying, but I figured we’d paid for it, so we’d make an attempt. As expected, it was a no-go. He actually walked out of the ring by himself halfway through! (He’s a funny little guy!)

Dusty mid-jump

Dusty making a jump

That afternoon, the sun came out, and Dusty had his first chance at a Starter Jumpers Q. Having just attempted to run Hogan (who again refused to do anything—I ended up carrying him off the course), I was a little frazzled, and I lost focus on who I was running, instead navigating the course as I’d do it with Hogan. Dusty and Hogan are very different dogs, and I have to adjust my style accordingly. Dusty can outrun me by a mile, whereas I generally have to slow my pace for Hogan, who’s a trotter. And I can “send” Dusty to an obstacle but have to be right beside Hogan to get him to where he’s supposed to go. Anyway, I ended up taking the long way around one section with Dusty when I should have done a rear cross (cross behind him). I can’t rear-cross Hogan because he changes direction when I do. That error, I think, had Dusty trusting me less or something, and he ended up running beyond a couple jumps that followed.

Nevertheless, for his first agility trial, I think he did really, really well. And I know he had a whole lot of fun! More fun than Hogan had, to be sure. So for now, Hogan’s agility career is on hold. I may try something else with him to continue building the bonding experience that agility training has provided us. We’ll see.

As for Dusty, I can just tell that he’s looking forward to his next agility trial in July!

Cora’s Latest Progress Update

With Cora—as I think is always the case with fearful dogs—we have this rhythm of two steps forward, one step back. However, lately, we’re seeing more steps forward without much backtracking at all!

Cora almost never rolls over for belly rubs; instead she sits up like this (and usually puts a paw up first).

This is how Cora usually asks for belly rubs (often putting a paw up first–so cute!).

Cora has recently been venturing to the door with Dusty and Hogan. She often ducks away when she sees it’s someone she doesn’t know, but she has stayed for a few people (our dog-sitter, our house cleaner, my mom, and even a pizza delivery man). This is huge!


Cora has occasionally rolled over for belly rubs lately. Progress!











Our little sweet pea

Our little sweet pea

Then, when my friend Jo stayed with me in April while Wes was away and we went to the basement for TV time (the basement is Cora’s favourite place), Cora was right behind Jo coming downstairs and jumped onto the couch to sit between us. She even asked Jo for belly rubs in her special high-fiving way! Jo also got Cora kisses! The next two mornings, though, Cora had accidents in my bedroom, which hadn’t happened in months, so there may have been some anxiety about having someone else in the house.

Also in April, she greeted one of our neighbours for the first time (despite many previous attempts over the past two years) and took treats from their two-year-old son. Since that went over really well with Cora, we’ve allowed a couple of other kids to give her treats on our walks, and she’s done great! She doesn’t even dart away afterward but instead lingers to sniff their hands!

We’ve had some bunnies in our backyard lately, and Cora has made her hunting noises a lot—sometimes even before getting outside. One night, in her excitement of waiting for her bedtime snack, she even barked at Wes!

We’ve taken baby steps with Cora and continue to do so, but we keep seeing progress. Cora is a much more relaxed, much happier dog than she was in the beginning. Every day, she makes me laugh by doing something silly. And often, she brings me to tears of joy by moving a little further outside her comfort zone. People keep saying she is lucky to have ended up in our home. For certain, she is fortunate to have been saved by TAGS despite her advanced age and fear issues. But really, we’re the lucky ones who were the first potential adopters to meet Cora (anyone would have fallen for her as we did, I’m sure!) and to have watched her blossom into a real dog. She is a true inspiration!

Dusty Gearing Up for His First Agility Trial

Dusty is getting pretty good at this agility thing! He barks throughout his run, and, boy, do I ever have to run fast to keep up with him, but he’s doing so well, and he’s having so much fun!

Snapshot 1 (05-06-2013 9-41 PM)Some of you may remember that in theory I’m not supposed to be doing agility with Dusty because of his mild hip dysplasia and damaged (but not torn) cruciate ligament. However, he hasn’t favoured his hind leg for about a year (possibly because of his Cartrophen injections), and really, there’s no slowing him down anyway. He runs just as fast and turns a whole lot harder zooming around our backyard on his own or with his brother than he does in agility. Some veterinarians and trainers believe that agility is good for dogs with mild hip dysplasia because it helps build muscle, which ultimately keeps the dog mobile longer. Since Dusty seems not at all inclined to slow down any time soon, I’m taking that theory to heart and letting him enjoy his life doing things he loves.

And this boy really loves agility!

Today I applied for Dusty’s Agility Association of Canada ID card, and I’m contemplating signing him up for his first trial on June 16. Our trainer thinks he’s ready to give it a shot although he may not yet be focused enough to qualify. But even if he doesn’t qualify, hanging out with dogs and their owners at an agility trial is a fantastic way to spend a summer day!