Ahhhh… finally. I picked through over 700 photos I took at a local agility trial, trashed the bad ones, then picked out some of the better to process (I shoot in raw format) and here they are. I mean, it’s only been nearly three months since I took them…. (sheepish grin)
Now, for those who are not familiar with canine agility, other than having seen it on TV, it is FUN!!! The dogs LOVE it! And should a trainer start a noobie dog and realize the dog is not interested, nor finds any enjoyment, then the trainer ceases agility with that dog. We never force any of our beloved pets into any sport if they’re not loving it. The idea is companionship, fun, and the challenge of the course as well as racing against the clock as well as other dog’s times in the advanced levels.
My dog earned her Novice titles before we both retired. She is an older rescue and was showing signs of arthritis. And my back decided it really didn’t like the running and twisting around. Yeah, I’m whining. I’ve watched a woman with a disability that requires her to use those aluminum crutches run around the field, pointing with a crutch, giving verbal commands… and winning. Truly amazing!
A few things to note… One three pieces of equipment – the A-Frame, the teeter, and the dog walk – there are yellow zones at both ends. See image below. The dog MUST touch within that yellow zone both on entering and exiting the obstacle. This is for the safety of the dog. It can be one toe, doesn’t matter. Just so they touch. Trust me, in the novice level, there are some very humorous things which occur. Like when my friends Border Terrier decided she liked the view from the top, so she sat down and proceeded to enjoy the scenery from high up. Some are not so humorous – like when my dog decided to jump from the very top – the apex – of the A-frame. She hit the ground at an odd angle, but was not injured. I pulled her immediately. She was spooked of the A-frame for a while after that, but we worked on the “baby” A-frame until she regained her confidence again.
My dog has also gone to visit the judges, pottied on the course, and decided she liked going through the tunnel again… and again… and again. One time, she broke her start-line stay as I was walking away to start further out. I had my back to her as she normally is very good at holding her stay by now. Then I hear the pitter-patter of her paws and her clearing the jumps behind me, so I turn, see her (and she was following the correct course), and yell, “SHIT!” Well, there is a rule of no cursing. Seeing as the judge was about ten feet away from me, next to the spectators who clearly heard me, I got the “tweet” of the whistle and was disqualified. Oops! I should have just picked up and started when I saw her as she was on course. Oh, well. C’est la vie.
Then there are the weave poles. The most fascinating and challenging of all the obstacles. The dog must enter properly, complete each pole (no missing) and exit properly. Novice gets as many tries as they need, and it’s only six poles (versus the twelve for all other levels). But above novice, it is one attempt only. So needless to say, weave poles are one of the most heavily worked items in training. When my girl finally got it right for the first time, I whooped and hollared! It “clicked” in her head and when she saw my exuberance, she was like, “That’s it? That’s all I have to do to make you happy?” She jumped on me and we started rolling all over the ground playing and wrestling. She began nailing the weave poles nearly every time after that – even when we moved up to the twelve poles. Now, mind you, sometimes she kind of strolled through rather than run them, but she’d still make each one.
Therefore, there are several weave pole pictures. Those are the captures nearly all agility runners want. So, I hope you enjoy. I loaded them in a gallery as they are best viewed in full size in the shadowbox slideshow.
Oh, yeah. Real quick… here is an adorable picture of a blond labrador who was definitely a novice. And he had FUN that day! He said hello to the judges, raised his paw to give a shake to a judge, went through the tunnel, turned around and went back through – again and again and again. He sniffed the fence, ran in circles, and just played. And finally decided he was done. Here he is leaving the course to go visit some people and other dogs along the sideline. There is always one of these happy-go-lucky’s in every trial, and they all put smiles on our faces as we’ve all been through it, too.
Oops, sorry. One more item I would like to point out – walking the course before the official trials start. Everyone picks up a “map” of the course in the morning, which is a different course every day, but cannot go on the course to walk it until just before your class. So everyone goes out to walk it, waves their arms in the motion they will use when giving their dog a command, deciding whether to do front or rear crosses, etc. I laughed the very first time I saw this and still laugh to this day. Since no one is talking to each other, they look as though they’re aimlessly walking around, waving and pointing to this and that, making turns and spins, etc. It always reminds me of a scene that would be in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Enough jabbering… here are some photos. Not all are agility – just loving dogs from all angles.