Woohoo! What a pick-me-up after last night's bummed out posts about our walks. Our final outdoor agility class of the season was a total blast. Marge was social, mostly nonreactive, and looking to take treats from everyone. Oh, and the agility went pretty well, too.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This course was HARD. Count it - THREE A-Frame/tunnel discrimination exercises (four if you count the initial tire-frame). I just about fainted when I walked the course and discovered that horrifying fact.
Yet, she did pretty well. She was fast, under control, and totally unstressed. The first tunnel entry was, by far, the hardest, and we did flub it considerably. I'll break the whole thing down:
- start line stay tonight was phenomenal. I cut most of it out, but our friendly Portuguese-Water-Classmate was bouncing around walking back to get her leash for a solid 10 seconds or so while Marge was waiting on the line. Apparently, Marge's start line problems (ie., wanting to sit instead of stand) had a lot to do with where the start line was located - in the far corner of the field, filled with shadows and, I assume, pretty icky/damp. She had no problem on the grass this evening, that's for sure.
- She hit her A-Frame contact on the first run, but on this one I had to put her back on it. Still very much a work in progress.
- Next three jumps are straightforward.. AWESOME weave entries tonight, she definitely showed that she was looking for the entry point and took another step if needed to position herself right.
- Jump to tunnel was fine. Marge's problem was that the A-Frame crossed over to the other side, so she was looking for me on the right side rather than on the left. This created confusion. I finally got it right by running way up and showing her exactly where I was, rather than sitting back and waiting for her to come flying over the next jump.
- Dog walk was great. Her contact is really nice on it, especially since she hasn't seen it in at least a month or so.
- The next tunnel entry was a lot less problematic than I thought it would be. BIG kudos to Marge for reading my back cross (which I call "turn") through the tire even though I cued it super super late.
- Another BIG BIG BIG kudos for backcrossing the jump after the tunnel! We worked on this briefly during our last private practice session and I'm hoping it made a difference, because the speed was still there, but the CONTROL was there too!
- Again, a nice weave entry the second time around, but she popped out at the last pole. We were running short on time, so I wasn't able to go back and fix it.
I'm sad that we won't be at the field until January, but I understand why we're moving indoors. It was SO cold tonight. Can't-move-your-hands kind of cold, making it really hard to hold treats and a clicker and expecting to do something constructive with them. I did wind up signing up for the winter session. We'll probably only be able to go for about six weeks out of the eight. Two of our classmates are in the class, and the class tops out at seven dogs total, but I'm hoping that the midafternoon time scares a lot of potential people away. NOTHING beats a small-sized agility class.
Agility has opened up an entire new world for Marge to learn and grow. The past six or seven months out at the field have enabled me to give my dog confidence, give my dog a job, and strengthen my bond with her. She has met lots of understanding human friends and also many polite and compatible doggy friends. Getting involved in this has been one of the best decisions I've ever made for her.
MargeBlog started in early 2009 as a training journal for my newly adopted, skittish Lab mix, Marge. Marge's world was small back then; her fears really limited the things I could do with her. Aside from trips to the park and attending beginner training classes, Marge was mostly a stay at home gal - not because either of us wanted her to be, just because the demons from her unsuitable upbringing continued to haunt her.
Slowly, the fear diminished, her world grew. Now, Marge is a fun-loving, squirrel-chasing, winning Agility and Rally dog who accompanies me to a wide variety of places. Here, you will frequently find detailed training updates, snippets from Marge's every day life at home, and photo-filled posts detailing our many outdoor adventures.
This is more than just a dog blog - it is an actual look in to what one shelter dog's life ultimately became when she found her first and forever home and began to blossom.
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A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
Marge is a different dog now than she was back then. It took years of new, positive life experiences, but her fears, which used to consume everything we did, are now only one theme in a great big book of adventures.
These days, Marge enjoys going to training classes, taking trips to agility trials, having play dates with friends, and eating anything that's even remotely edible - not bad for a dog who spent her puppy days in cages.
My time with Marge has been a learning experience for which I am ever grateful. As my first dog, she has taught me and continues to teach me so much more than I ever imagined about dogs, training, and behavioral/fear issues. She's a fun dog with a sense of humor who loves life and learning.
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