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October 22, 2015

Tales from the Crate: #CrazyDog kills dog agility by Karilyn Bentley

The cutest puppy in the world
Have you been wondering what happened to our adorable puppy, aka The Kraken? It dawned on me the other day I hadn't written about her in a year. (Want to read about my puppy adventures? Try Here, Here and Here)  She's grown now, all 45 pounds of her. Still likes to eat the garden (currently asparagus, okra and tomatoes are her faves, but the poor kale plant is moving up on her list), snuggle with The Hubster, and catch bugs, toads, geckos, and the occasional baby bird. <shivers to think of that one> But her new skill is dog agility.

For those of you unfamiliar with agility, this is an obstacle course for dogs. They fly over jumps and through standing tires, run across dog walks, A-frames and teeter-totters, dart through tunnels and chutes, all in the name of fun. (Never seen it? Check this video out on YouTube ***disclaimer: I have no idea who this dog is, and am in no way affiliated with this particular competition***)

My first experience with agility was back in the '90s with my first dog. It was a lot of fun, so when we got another dog, I put her in a class. Bad idea. Why? (1) She hated car rides and would hurl. Nothing more awesome than cleaning up dog puke. (2) Everything on the field (aka the other classes, dogs, birds in the sky) held more interest than whatever I wanted her to do. This meant I'd say jump and she'd jump. I'd say come back, and she'd run around the two acres, through the other agility classes, until she tired out, me giving chase hollering, 'come back, come back.' Do you know how long a shepherd mix can run? For-freaking-ever. Yeah. Not happening. If I wanted to run, I'd stick her on a leash and go for a jog. But when we got The Kraken last year, I decided to make another try. Third time's a charm, right?

After some research, I found a school fairly close to my house. Classes were held outdoors next to a horse field. The atmosphere was relaxed. The Kraken was 11 months when we started class, which meant she was still in the hyper phase of absentmindedness. Classes were at night in February. Remember, I'm in Texas. February is practically spring. At any rate, agility is supposed to burn energy and calm down an over-exuberant dog. In theory.

When we arrived for our first night of class, bright lights on tall poles illuminated the field with a radiance not seen this side of the sun. The temp was mid-fifties, perfect for a night of dog training. I opened the back door of the car. The Kraken refused to get out. I coaxed. She gave me a no-way glare. I picked her up and sat her on the ground. She took a sniff of air and took off toward the gated field. As we made our way to the class, her ears perked up. Then she ran to the end of her leash, almost pulling me over. Why? Bugs! Loads of bugs! And scents! Enough scents to entice a dog for hours. And did I mention the horses? (Who the heck puts a dog school next to a horse pasture?) We lined up with three other dog/human teams and were the only ones there who just wanted to play around. Everyone else was SERIOUS. They wanted to compete. Their dogs sat at attention, even the six month old. My dog? Well, The Kraken chased bugs. Did I mention the abundance of bugs? She suddenly forgot how to walk on leash and perfected her military crawl. Toward the horses. And the bugs. NOT the equipment.

When it was our turn on the equipment, I tugged on the leash. She laid down and rolled onto her back. I scratched her tummy. She flipped over and tried to exhibit her landscaping talent (aka digging for bugs). I picked her up and carried her to the piece of equipment. She freaked out and rolled over. I shrugged, picked her up and went to the back of the line. As soon as her feet hit the ground she crawled after a moth. Embarrassing. But her military crawl looked great and garnered tons of comments and accolades.

The second class she seemed to like a couple of pieces of equipment (probably because they had moths flitting above them. Low fat treats). Then came the first round of rains/sleet/snow and we didn't have class for five weeks. By the time we returned, one of the teams had dropped out. Another one forgot to show up. Which left two teams. That's when The Kraken started liking class.

By the end of the third class, she LOVED the dog walk and A-frame and would actively dart over them whether or not they were the correct obstacle. Then more rains came and class was hit or miss. Sometimes the instructor would hold a class and only The Kraken and I would show. So we got a lot of private lessons for the cost of group ones. Awesome!!

Now, The Kraken is one of the top dogs in our intermediate class. She HATES the teeter totter because it moves but loves the other equipment. She gets so excited when we go to class, once she sees the place, she starts whining. And she refuses to leave, which means I have to carry her back to the car after dead-lifting her from a military crawl (she tries to crawl away from the gate, go figure).

Agility rocks. If you've never seen it, go to YouTube or look at #dogagility on Twitter. Lots of fun!!!

What kind of activities do you like to do with your pets? Has anyone else out there tried doggy agility?

Karilyn Bentley
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Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Karilyn! The poos went to dog training to learn basic commands. I taught them roll over and lay down. Jones loves to run-run-run and he probably would like an agility course. Champ is just happy being happy. They are fun, but greasy right now as Handsome put grease on the driveway gate and they rub against it. Sigh.

Kathy Ivan said...

I love watching the agility courses and the dogs seem to have so much fun completing all the obstacles. And those little buggers are FAST! When we had dogs, they were too plain ole lazy to even attempt anything like a course. I picture me dragging a dead weight black lab on her back across the field -- nope, they much preferred laying around and doing nothing. LOL

Great post. I love the Tales From the Crate stories.

Phyllis said...

That sounds like a lot of work and fun. Glad things are looking up for your 'puppy'.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Thank you Vicki, Kathy and Phyllis! I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Dogs are too funny. Sorry yours are a bit greasy, Vicki! :) Thank you for stopping by!

Tena said...

Great story and I totally understand. Our dog a cow is in advanced agility and loves it, except when she is in a mood. Most times she does well and we have a great time.

Sylvia said...

I love these posts about your dog. The Kracken is always good for a laugh. Our dog, Zeus -- nicknamed Zeusifer because sometimes he can be such a pain and then the next moment he's covering you in slobber, starts training on Halloween. We're going to doggie class to see if we can teach him not to run Helter skelter across the yard and into the street with us yelling stop. He thinks it's a game and that we're chasing him. Very scary. We'd also like some help with his chewing. Our other dachshund liked to chew on my shoes, but Zeus puts everything in his mouth, including the sofa, which now has two holes in it from him chewing to the stuffing. Dogs are so much fun and give so much love, but they're also such little characters. And we've been talking about getting a third one because Ashley, our oldest dachshund is going on fifteen, and when we move, I want all dogs crate trained. No accidents in the new house. That would give me a year, almost two to have the new dog trained and out of the chewing stage.