Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Simple But Not Easy...

I've been a little frustrated with myself the last few weeks in Agility class. How hard is a blind cross? or a Lateral Send? Why am I struggling with seemingly easy maneuvers? Because, it turns out, like most things Agility related, they are Simple but they are not easy!

When I watched Agility for the very first time, I thought, "Oh my gosh! That looks like so much fun! Those people are really connecting with their dogs and the dogs know exactly what to do!" I saw the humans moving on the course, but it looked easy. Some ran, some trotted. A turn here or there. Simple stuff. It wasn't long before I learned how profoundly wrong I was!
Now, I have to try not to smile when people say, "My dog doesn't listen but he flies all over the place. He'd be good at that."

{Mad Skillz}

A Blind Cross for example, is a side changing maneuver in which the handler crosses in front of the dog and signals with the opposite arm. For instance, the handler send the dog into a Tunnel off of thier left side and 'picks up' the dog on their right side when the dog exits the tunnel.

Simple, right? Except that it's a skill that your dog needs to learn to read and it's also a skill that the handler needs to learn because, as its name implies, it is blind. I was trying to run forward in class with my left arm extended while craning my neck over my left shoulder. Not an easy way to run and not an easy way to cue your next obstacle! It turns out that you must have faith in your partner that he or she will read your cues and run on the side indicated.
We had beautiful weather this week and we spent lots of time walking at the park. When we are able, we do as much off-leash work as we can (Shhhh. Don't tell the Rangers). This includes 'Go Free', Recall work, and Shadow Handling. I decided to incorporate the Blind Cross signal into some recalls. When Pico was on a 'Go Free', and  I was ahead of him, I would signal with an arm extended back, shoulder slightly back, and call 'Okay. Here'. I didn't turn to look but rather worked on simply trusting that he'd read the cue. And he did! Such a good little dog. And the fact that he thinks stuff like this is fun, makes it all just play!

{Watching the Ducks at the Park!}

Today, we had a fantastic class with fun, short sequences. Pico was in the game and was really paying attention. We (okay, I) had some issues with my Rear Cross (Simple move right?) but we worked through it and will continue to work on them in practice.

The Rules and the moves may be Simple but Agility is not Easy... and that's exactly what keeps most of us working to do it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Is Short... Play With Your Dog (No Excuses!)

Today's Dog Agility Blog Event is all about Aging in Agility!
This video of 90 year old Amy Brastad proves that people of all ages can have fun doing agility!

I'm not sure much needs to be said after that (although I'm sure I'll find a way to string a bunch of words together anyway)...

I was introduced to agility 3.5 years ago when I was in my mid *cough* forties. I had a million reasons why I probably couldn't do something like Agility: I am uncoordinated. I have a funky left leg from being a preemie. I am uncoordinated. I might trip and make a fool of myself. I am uncoordinated.
Somehow, despite my excuses,  I kept right on showing up for classes. And I learned things. Seeing my dogs learn things is what keeps me trying to learn things!

I went to trials to see what that scene is about. At the trials there were people of ALL ages and ALL levels of coordination! In the end, I fit right in!

Ask yourself:
* Do you want to learn an entirely new way to communicate with your dogs?
* Do you want the challenge of working a course with your pup?
* Do you want to spend time with lots of other people that are crazy about dogs?
* Do you want to teach your dog tricks that will impress friends and strangers?
* Do you want the challenge of creatively storing a bunch of colorful ribbons?

If you answered yes to any of these, then regardless of your age, you can do Agility!

Please be sure and check out all of the other blogs about Aging and Agility here: Dog Agility Blog Action Day: Aging