It would not be correct to say that Rosie was a natural at agility--not by a long shot--but she did throw herself into it wholeheartedly. She took the class with Riley's friend Cinder, who has grown into a beautiful and energetic (and extremely well-behaved) three-year-old. It might have worked a little better had Rosie and Cinder been the only dogs in the agility class, but there were many more--eight or nine, one more dog than there were stations so we were always moving, moving, moving, trying to worm our way onto a ramp or into a tunnel, someone else always hot on our heels. It was a busy, slightly chaotic evening. But fun. Oh, so fun!
We are no longer in puppy class (though Rosie is still a puppy, not quite six months old), nor are we in obedience training. This was a class purely for fun, and there were dogs of all shapes, breeds, ages and temperaments. A German shepherd who didn't much like other dogs. A very noisy smallish dog. A deaf dog who wears a collar that buzzes so he can feel the vibration and respond to commands. A little dog, sort of Corgi-sized, maybe smaller, who had already been through agility class three times and knew exactly what to do. His name was Toast.
Unlike obedience training, where step by step instruction is crucial, this class was loose. We kind of got the gist of what was expected, and then we just had at it. So you had dogs everywhere, leaping (or not) over three-inch-high hurdles, or scampering (or slithering, or worming) up the A-frame and down the other side, or rocketing through tunnels (or stopping in the middle of the tunnel to sniff for treats).
Rosie did it all, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. She was great at the calming platform, where the routine begins. She jumped up on it, sat down, waited nicely. She's had a lot of practice, since it's very much like our coffee table.
The "weave" was tricky, mainly because we didn't know precisely how to guide her through it. She did OK, but she would have done much better if we knew what we were doing.
Then up the A frame--we had to push her and pull her (as the teacher recommended), one hand on her collar, one hand on her bony little bottom. By the third time or so she was a wee bit more confident and we just spotted her and fed her treats.
She crawled through the tunnels, she leaped (more or less) through the hanging tire, she even did the teeter-totter without too much consternation.
The only one she didn't complete was the dogwalk, which is a fairly steep ramp that leads to an elevated, flat platform about four and a half feet high. She kind of froze on the ramp, primarily, I think, because I was moving my hands around too much. She was watching my hands closely and when I reached into my treatbag for treats, she lost track of where her feet were and almost fell.
The instructor told us to take her off of it and wait until next week to try again. Here's hoping that next week she first instructs me on how to do it, so that I can instruct Rosie. (In the picture above: Cinder, who was fearless.)
The whole night was lots of fun, though, with dogs everywhere, running and jumping and barking and gobbling down treats. Little Toast was an oasis of calm, busily going through the routine over and over, no problem, no muss, not requiring any cajoling or hand-on-the-butt, or even any treats, as far as I could tell.
And then Doug and Rosie and Cinder and Cinder's minders and I came back home and the four adults had beer and the three dogs raced around the yard and beat each other up and barked so much I thought our neighbors might call the cops.
"At least Rosie will be tired tomorrow," I said.
You all probably know how that went.