Agility

A Successful Return to Agility Trialing

Yesterday we attended our first agility trial of the year. And I’m so glad we did! Dusty and Hogan both had perfect runs and Q’d (qualified), meaning both of them are now out of Starter Jumpers and moving on to Advanced Jumpers!

We drove an hour and a half each way to get to the agility trial, and between them, the boys ran a total of 59.46 seconds, but the early Sunday-morning wake-up and the long drive were well worth that minute! Dusty won the 10″ Specials class with a great time of 23.3 seconds, and Hogan came in second with a time of 36.16 seconds (45 seconds were allotted). My boys did me proud!

Hogan and Dusty wearing their ribbons proudly, supported by their loving sister, Cora.

Hogan and Dusty wearing their ribbons proudly, supported by their loving sister, Cora.

I’ve been taking Hogan to a different agility class, this one at Dogs on Campus in Oshawa, and I think it’s been good for both me and him. Hogan’s confidence and motivation seem to be increasing in the new class, which is great to see. I really like both of our trainers, and I’ve learned different things from each of them. I’m still not a great handler or trainer (I’m too uncoordinated, I think), but I do have fun challenging myself to learn these things.

But, more important, I think the dogs really enjoy it. And while they may not care that they earned these ribbons, I know that they are being exposed to a variety of situations and events and have richer, more full lives for it. That’s what really means the most.

The video below shows our two runs and, since I didn’t want Cora to feel left out, includes her craziness at bedtime a couple of nights ago. Under her shy, frightened exterior lives a kooky little girl. Between the three of them, we have a whole lot of laughter and joy in our home!

Our Last Outdoor Trial of the Season

We spent today at the last outdoor agility trial of the season in Pickering. What a great day!

Hogan's favourite part of an agility trial is the belly rubs. Lori was his first belly rubber of the day.

Hogan’s favourite part of an agility trial is the belly rubs. Lori was his first belly rubber of the day.

Since my husband was out of town and my usual agility buddy, Mary Ann (mom of Dusty’s and Hogan’s “girlfriends”), was working, I enlisted the help of great friends Chris and Lori, who’ve been out to a couple of trials before and enjoyed them. Hogan’s and Dusty’s first event was scheduled for 10:41 a.m. Since the venue was close to home, I brought my easy-up gazebo thingie, the dogs’ pen, crate, beds, etc. to the park and went back home for the dogs. I was hoping this would mean extra rest for Hogan (he needs his rest!).

Nick dropped by to watch and got some Dusty cuddle time!

Our dog-sitter Nick dropped by to watch and got some Dusty cuddle time!

Back at the park, we had a bit of time to settle in before our Snooker run—my first time ever trying it! The course was challenging because obstacle #6 was 12 weave poles, and Dusty doesn’t yet know how to weave, and Hogan weaves VERY slowly. This meant I had to earn 23 points in the first half (we needed a total of 37). I decided to do obstacle #7 (tunnel and two jumps) twice, obstacle #5 (tunnel and two jumps), and obstacle #3 (jump). Hogan didn’t get very far before running out of time, so he got just 16 points. Dusty did pretty well, but I screwed up by sending him over a red jump when he needed to go over #3 in the second half, so he finished with 27 points, I think. (I can’t post the video because I shouted out an obscenity when I screwed up–oops!) His missed ribbons do tend to be my fault time and time again. Oh, well. We’re both getting better with practice!

Hogan resting between events.

Hogan resting between events.

Our second event was Starter Jumpers (again). We’ve tried this event probably seven or eight times this summer with no ribbons. But today was different!

Dusty chewing a stick to ease his excitement (Cora being curious)

Dusty chewing a stick to ease his excitement (Cora being curious).

First, Hogan ran. He actually did the whole course, although he was slow, sniffed a lot, and missed one jump. (It took him 53 seconds to do it, and 43 seconds were allotted). Then Dusty flew through the course, with a time of 27.60 seconds! I thought he had knocked a bar on one of the jumps, but apparently he didn’t. That means Dusty got his first Q! Yay!

Dusty and his very first ribbon for qualifying!

Dusty and his very first ribbon for qualifying!

I’ve had a great summer of attending trials with my dogs, and I would keep doing this regardless of earning Q’s and ribbons. We’re in agility purely for the fun of it. I’m not a very good handler (still working on it), but we have a great time out there. But I must admit, getting that ribbon today sure as hell felt good!

Below are some more pictures from today, and to see the video of Dusty’s qualifying run, click here!

Wes eventually made it to the park. Here he is watching Steeplechase with Dusty

Wes eventually made it to the park. Here he is watching Steeplechase with Dusty.

 

Chris volunteering as a bar setter in Steeplechase (on my behalf)

Chris volunteering as a bar setter in Steeplechase (on my behalf).

 

Possibly my new favourite picture of Cora (she was watching garbage men taking the nice-smelling garbage away)

Possibly my new favourite picture of Cora (she was watching garbage men taking the nice-smelling garbage away).

It was tough to get Dusty to lie down!

It was tough to get Dusty to lie down!

My three sweetie pies.

My three sweetie pies automatically sitting for a treat when they see the camera’s on them.

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!

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!

Photographic Interlude

I haven’t had time to write a blog post or edit a pending guest post recently, so here are some pictures in the meantime!

Dusty's latest favourite hangout spot is the arm of the loveseat in our office so he can look out the window

Dusty’s latest favourite hangout spot is the arm of the loveseat in our office so he can look out the window

Hogan loves to sleep in the sun on a warm spring day.

Hogan loves to sleep in the sun on a warm spring day.

Cora was very interested in the bird's nest under the deck and tried everything she could think of to get at the eggs and, later, the baby birds. Unfortunately, she did catch two of the babies once they had left the nest. :(

Cora was very interested in the bird’s nest under the deck and tried everything she could think of to get at the eggs and, later, the baby birds. Unfortunately, she did catch two of the babies once they had left the nest. :(

We've had a lot of fun weekend walks by the waterfront and in unfamiliar neighbourhoods, just to change things up!

We’ve had a lot of fun weekend walks by the waterfront and in unfamiliar neighbourhoods, just to change things up!

Dusty's friend Mumford has come to visit a few times this spring. Dusty likes to climb on people so he can try to get face to face with Mr. Mumford!

Dusty’s friend Mumford has come to visit a few times this spring. Dusty likes to climb on people so he can try to get face to face with Mr. Mumford! (I love that Dusty looks as though he’s smiling! He wags his tail nonstop when Mumford is here. It’s very cute!)

I just love this picture of Mumford sitting on his mom's lap!

I just love this picture of Mumford sitting on his mom’s lap!

When we have company and Cora feels nervous but wants to be outside anyway, she hangs out in the rock garden and pretends she's a flower (and she sure is pretty enough to be one!).

When we have company and Cora feels nervous but wants to be outside anyway, she hangs out in the rock garden and pretends she’s a flower (and she sure is pretty enough to be one!).

This past weekend, we built and painted agility equipment, including three jumps, two sets of six weave poles, a teeter, and a pause table!

This past weekend, we built and painted agility equipment, including three jumps, two sets of six weave poles, a teeter, and a pause table (not all pictured)!