Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For Those Who 'Don't Get' Agility

This post is especially for my Dad who recently rolled his eyes when I told him that Pico would hopefully be trialing soon...

{Me & Dad c. 1972}

Many Agility bloggers have tackled this topic including some of my dog friends. Like most enjoyable pastimes, Agility is a very individual endeavor. Here is my take on it...

Dad, remember those once-a-month poker games with your teacher friends? You all got together and sat around the table enjoying some laughs and stories about students and teaching in general. When it came to the game though, it was just you and the cards you were dealt. It was up to you to play your best hand and to do that you needed your best poker face as well as the intuition to read your friends' thoughts.

Agility is kind of like that. There's lots of camaraderie as well as plotting and planning. What kind of course were you dealt today? How will you deal with it? How is your dog feeling today? Is he on or off? Are you nervous? Time to put on your poker face and communicate well with your teammate...

And Dad, remember your Monday night bowling league when you met up with friends at the alley to shoot the breeze between frames? Remember how you worked together as a team to score more points than your opponents? Remember how you practiced the footwork and skills it took to make as many strikes as you could? Or how you had to calculate just how to throw the ball to make that spare?

Agility is kind of like that. How will you maneuver your dog through the course? The dog, like a bowling ball, has no prior knowledge of the course. The way the ball rolls and the dog runs is all because of your energy and your body mechanics.

How about when you went golfing? Or played handball? Even those casual games of Bocce ball during picnics?

I signed up for Agility lessons in an effort to forge a bond with my dog. As a lifelong animal lover (which I learned largely from my Dad!), I have long been mesmerized by the human-animal bond.

{April & Gilda
demonstrating the human-animal bond}
At first, I felt as though I was spending money to play with my dog. It was Mike who told me, "It's okay to have a hobby. Lots of people do." and he is so right. And after awhile, I realized that I was spending time and money teaching my dogs some valuable skills!

{Gilda's Agility training
helped her become a certified
Therapy Dog}

It was Pico who recently showed me how much fun rising to the challenge of Agility can be. Pico has the zest for life, the love of working, and the insatiable desire to please that makes him a true little Agility partner even at this most early stage.

{Pico shows his teamwork

So you see Dad, Agility is like most other hobbies: fun, challenging, and filled with highs and lows. And besides that, dog people are often the most down-to-earth, enjoyable and helpful people to hang with!

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