Monday, September 06, 2004

As threatened ....

Judy & Jackson, originally uploaded by bunchofpants.

OK, I've decided to torture folks with more talk of agility. The photo above is of my friend Judy, who is begging her dog Jackson to lie down on the pause table (he never did). It's sort of funny because when you've never done agility, you think "My dog knows the 'down' command ... how hard could that obstacle really be?" But the thing is that your dog has just been running, jumping, etc., and is probably really keyed up. Now you want her to stop and be still for the count of five? I failed to qualify (or "Q," as the lingo goes) in my standard course run on Saturday because it took too long for me to get Lucy into the down. We had a perfect run but it was about 30 seconds over time.

Because every agility course is different and you have no idea what it's going to look like until the day of the trial, they give everyone about 10 minutes to walk each course without dogs before competition begins. You have a little map and each obstacle is numbered, but you really need to memorize it because are so many other things to think about that you'll never make it through if you have to try and figure out which obstacle is next. But most people don't just walk the course, we do a slo-mo version of all the movements we'll be doing when we're running the course with our dogs. That's because our dogs mostly use our body language to know which obstacle we want them to take next (we've tried to work it all out in advance with them in classes and practice time), and we have to figure out in the walk-through what our bodies need to do at every point along the way. So the sight of all these people doing their bizarre ballet dances out in the field at the same time is really quite amusing to watch. My friend Geoff, who came to watch for a while yesterday, said it looked like the kind of thing you'd expect to see at a mental institution. I wish I had taken a photo.

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