Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Puppy Agility Class

I've started Laev in a Beginning Agility class for dogs 6 months and up; I think she may be the youngest there. There are a lot of adolescent dogs there, and a few show dogs who are exploring a new sport. It's a nice mixture of doggie people and the pet-owning public.

Laev is a little ahead of the other dogs, because she's seen some equipment before (we played on some at 10-14 weeks and then quit). So she remembers that tunnels, for example, are really fun, while the other dogs have mostly not seen a tunnel before. Hence we have scenarios like the following:

We're approaching for a second or third repetition of a full-length tunnel, having graduated out to that size. The dog before us needs three tries to go through the tunnel to reach the treat he already knows is at the end. If this dog were in my beginning agility class, I'd say he was doing fine for a newbie; this is a completely new experience for him.

Then it's our turn. I am holding Laev's harness directly as she approaches the tunnel on hind legs only. A few feet out I drop her and gasp, "Tunnel!" as she launches. I immediately wing her tug toy to the far end, as I know I don't have a prayer of beating her down there -- blasted straight tunnels! She brings me the toy and we play.

She was kind of a klutz on the boards last night, though; she hasn't done narrow ramps since she was a tiny little thing, and at eight months she doesn't really have a clue where her butt is. ("Mom! It changes daily!") She can do a ladder decently well, but she saw no point in walking a flat board at all. ("The floor's right there. Why not?") An angled board down was easier, and an angled board up was a puppy highway. So I think she'll be okay.

I told my husband that I was quite proud of Laev's "can-do" attitude, that I anticipated she would do well. But, I said, that dog ahead of us, who needed more time? He's probably a really awesome pet, a great snuggler, a perfect companion with whom to watch a movie at night. Laev is not; when we sit down to watch some anime or a movie, I give her a stuffed Kong for a while and then crate her so she doesn't practice horrible couch-mauling habits. So there are always trade-offs.

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