Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday May 29th 2006 (lengthy entry to catch up from January!)

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Walter's (and my) first experience with agility was in January 2006 when he was enrolled in a beginner's class. In the very first class, I was amazed when he (and most of his canine classmates) showed little to no anxiety doing the obstacles that we tried that first day (chute base without the fabric, slanted walk board propped up on table, and jump, as I recall). It was then that I realized that so much of agility is about training the handler, not the dog, as most of the obstacles found in agility involve dogs doing what comes naturally to them. Over the course of the session we were also introduced to the a-frame, the tunnel, the see-saw, the tire, weave-o-matics, the chute with the chute attached, and... I can't remember if there was anything else. The dogwalk was not used since the indoor class space was limited. Walter was nervous with the tunnel and the chute, and I vowed to get lots of practice hours in in the summer to help him gain confidence with those obstacles. It was a fun course and I was left with the desire to continue with the next level.

In late April 2006 I purchased access to the school's outdoor agility field for the season. For a very reasonable fee, students with at least 4 hours of agility class time under their belt can have access to the field at any time that there is no class going on. I'm so glad that this option is available, since (a) one hour of in-class practice per week is just not enough; and (b) it's another thing to add to the list of fun things to do with my dogs. The first time I brought Walter to the field to practice, I noticed that his confidence level was much higher than it had been in the indoor classes. In fact, he dove through the tunnel without so much as thinking about it first. I'm sure the fact that it's outdoors helps him be more comfortable. Due to a ton of lousy weather in May (rain, rain, rain), we only got in about two practice sessions.

Walter began the next level of agility (Advanced 1) in May 2006.

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