Hi, everyone! MP here! I know a lot of you do agility training (and trialing) with your dogs. Tucker & Phoebe have also trained in agility, although we've never trialed. The truth is I am just not a person that enjoys doing anything competitive in front of a bunch of people, because I'm both a little on the shy side as well as pretty competitive. I'm less shy than I used to be but I'm still pretty competitive, and the reality is that those two traits don't mesh especially well, particularly when you add a living, breathing, thinking, feeling creature (i.e. a dog) into the mix. This is even more true when those dogs are sensitive as Tucker and Phoebe happen to be. You can ruin Tucker's whole week by looking at him cross-wise. Phoebe is a bit more emotionally resilient when it comes to criticism, whether real or perceived, but nonetheless Brussels are known for being a bit sensitive, so it's something I have to watch with her as well. And that, honestly, is the main reason why I never wanted to approach the sport of agility as anything other than something fun to do on a Tuesday night. I never wanted to introduce an element of competitiveness into it, because I didn't want my natural impulse to be too competitive (and to get upset when things don't go perfectly) to compromise something that is far more important to me than any awards, or any more initials on the end of my dogs' names. That, of course, being my relationships with the dogs.
Doing agility for fun seemed like the perfect compromise. It was something the dogs really enjoyed, something I really enjoyed, and something that allowed them to exercise both their minds and their bodies simultaneously, while also strengthening the bond I had with each of them, as just about any type of "work" that humans and dogs undertake together almost can't help but do.
Unfortunately, for various reasons, we haven't been to an agility class in several months now, mainly because the Saturday morning drop in class that we used to really enjoy going to no longer exists, and our previous Tuesday class switched to Thursday, and now starts earlier, which makes it harder to get there after work without making myself a frazzled wreck by the time we pull into the parking lot, which is hardly conducive to a positive experience once we arrive.
This makes me sad, because it's something I really enjoyed, and I know the dogs did, too, so we're looking into another agility club whose schedule might work better for us than our previous club, but meanwhile I have been looking for ways to incorporate some of the fun of agility into our regular routine. Fallen logs can make a passable dog walk, traffic cones placed a little closer together than usual make a very usable set of weaves.
In fact, right at the office where I spend what my friends and family feel is way too much time, we've found a few different ways for the dogs to use some of the skills they developed in agility class on a daily basis.
Allow Phoebe to demonstrate:
Here Phoebe stands atop one of the many brick railings that encircle our office building. She is abiding by her "wait" command but is focused and eager to descend the other side of our impromptu A-frame.
And here she is starting her descent. This particular railing's incline is pretty steep, but nothing compared to an A-frame. Plus, the spaces between the bricks offer her plenty of traction.
Down she comes ...
Hey, this is pretty high! How'd I do, Mom?
This is where she'd jump into my arms, but it's really hard to take a picture of that and be ready to catch the dog, so you'll just have to use your imagination! But suffice it to say, her nickname is not "the flying monkey" for nothing!