Advanced Rally Class
We had our first Rally class on June 20th, then skipped two weeks (one because we were too tired after the SIKC agility trial, the other because the class was off on July 4th). Sunday was finally our return to Rally.
Marge is doing much better in this Rally class than she did in her first one - partially because she already knows most of the other dogs, partially because we're in a newer, bigger training hall than we were last summer, and partially just because she is less stressy and fearful than she used to be.
She DID have a lot to say to our Golden classmate, though, who also takes agility class with us. He barely pays her any attention, but something about him bothers Marge. Tremendously. Thankfully, that was her only snark of the night, and we were able to use the Golden to play some Look At That. Oddly enough, she is able to sit on the sidelines next to him with no problem - even wanted to sniff him, but I verbally marked her attempt to do so, so she came back and got a cookie instead. It is only the first few minutes when he first comes in that she reacts. I think it's because he's excited to be there and see everyone, and she's the reactive sourpuss (kidding kidding) and wants none of his happiness. My goal is to get her to stop reacting to him. Hopefully, we can do it, between both Agility and Rally.
As for the actual Rally, this is AKC Advanced/APDT Level 2 Rally, so lots of new signs are being introduced, and everything is off leash. So far, Marge has handled everything swimmingly. We've done a lot of it on our own at home, purposely. Heeling around food bowls filled with treats was a little rough, though.
Performing for an Audience
Last night was the last week of this session of the non-competitive agility class I'm involved with. I brought Marge along, since she hasn't been getting out much due to the heat/fireworks/whathaveyou.
The other teacher and I arranged a competition between the students. We set up a short, one-sided (ie. no crosses) agility course and timed each team to see who could run it the fastest. I had gone to the store before hand and picked up a whole bunch of squeaky toys, so, depending on who had the best time, they got to choose their prize first, second fastest chose their prize next, etc. I think every one liked their toys.
After the competition, every one took a break to check out their toys and eat some treats. Marge came out to run the course. She didn't even look at the people sitting across the room. She was so excited to see the agility equipment (and the treat in my hand) and ran like the little speedy girl that she is. She even held her contact on the A-Frame, which was set very low for the students.
She also made great friends with the Chihuahua in the class. What a nice combination - a tiny dog able to keep up with a big gal, and a big dog gentle enough to play with him. They made for quite a funny pair, but it was adorable. I wish I had pictures. I hope Marge can play with him again sometime.
All in all, it was a very good night, and proof of how far Marge has come. I got to brag a bit, too, telling the students about the titles Marge has earned and how she came from less-than stellar beginnings. I told them that even some of the most unlikely of dogs can do sports like this, with just some time and dedication.
Around the House
I have a hunch that Agility is going to be cancelled again tonight, as it just downpoured here. Since last week was cancelled, I was really eager to get back out there, but perhaps we'll have to wait another week. We'll find out in a few hours, I guess.
In the meantime, let me introduce to you Marge's newest trick:
We've been working on this for a few days, but today was the first day that we tried it with the actual tissue box. Eventually, I'd like to be able to say "Achoo!," have her go out to the tissue box on her own, and bring a tissue back to me. I have a feeling that this trick will be a hit with my family. I'm most eager to show it to my grandmother, who recently broke her wrist and is feeling kind of down.
A thunderstorm rolled in just a little while ago, and Marge hunkered down next to me on her mat next to the back door.
She wasn't all that scared, though, and took cookies as I threw them to her.
So, that's what we've been up to lately - trying to keep busy and beat the heat all at once.