Remembering Sullivan’s First Agility Trial

We just celebrated Sullivan’s 9th birthday and it’s hard to believe that she came to us eight and a half years ago. Boy she has come a long way from a shy little dog to the sweet loving smart dog that she is today. I really believe that agility has helped her is so many ways. Now a days we go to trials all the time and do really well, but I found myself thinking back to that first trial. We had been going to class for probably close to a year and began to really be able to put several obstacles together, get a start line stay and were learning some of the more challenging obstacles like weave poles and the teeter. We felt we were ready to go to our first agility trial.

We sent in all of the required paper work and entered in several “runs”. The trial was about and hour and a half away in Zephyrhills, Fl and began at 7 am, so we decided to go the night before and get a hotel room. We got there early the next morning ready to go. The first thing was Sullivan had to be measured by the judge to make sure she was jumping in the right category. She didn’t like that at all!

As the time approached for our first run, I was getting so nervous! What was going to happen? Would Sullivan stay in the ring? Would she do the course? In Florida most of the trials are outdoors and that means the bathrooms are Port a Potties – Yuck – but I will admit I used that outdoor bathroom more times that day than I probably had in my whole life!

Finally it was our turn to go. All of the training went right out the window! No start line stay, went right past the first jump and then she starting looking all around at the spectators looking for her “dad”. Eventually she went right out of the ring and we were disqualified for that run. So much for thinking we really had it all together! Lesson learned – just because your dog can do it at home, doesn’t mean she will do it in a trial. Practice, Practice Practice!!!!

Thankfully on the next few runs we did much better, even placing on one of the events. We didn’t get any qualifiers that day, but only missed by a few seconds on a couple of runs. At any rate, we were hooked! Everyone was so nice and supportive and we loved watching the more experienced dogs.

That first trial was an ASCA or Australian Shepherd trial, today, we pretty much only trial in Canine Performance Events or CPE. It’s not quite as stringent as some of the other venues and dogs of all breeds and mixed breeds are welcome. We have made it from Level 1 to Level 5 in all of the events and are almost and getting our Championship Level. Only 2 more Standard qualifiers to go! We are so glad we started agility. Sullivan loves it and so do I!!! Continue reading »

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Kala’s First Agility Trial

CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was Kala’s first trial.  Kala is an Australian Shepherd and is almost 2 years old.  She has been practicing agility for several months now.  She is able to do small sets, mostly jumps, tunnels and tire.  She can do the contacts (except teeter), but still doesn’t get the stay part at the bottom.  She is just learning to weave using Susan Garrett’s 2 x2 training method.  By AKC or USDAA standards, she would not be ready for a trial, but by going to CPE and only entering some of the games, we were able to have the trial experience.  We entered in Jumpers (no weaves in CPE), Colors and Fullhouse.

Our first event was Jumpers.  I really had no idea what she would do – she stayed on the start line and I led out the first jump.  She is pretty fast and Jumpers is a fast course, so I had to keep up with her and call her back to be a few times.  Luckily she didn’t take any obstacles out of sequence and ended up with a Qualifier and first place! (3 dogs).  I was very happy since I knew any mistakes she made would be easily corrected once she got used to doing courses.

The second event for her of the day was Fullhouse.  At this particular venue, there is a spot in the first ring that my other dog, Sullivan, always like to stop and sniff.  I don’t really see any other dogs stopping there, so I was surprised when Kala decided to stop and sniff there too!  Maybe Sullivan told her there was something good there???  We did OK in the Fullhouse, but did not Qualify.

The second day we started out with Colors.  Colors is a course that has 2 intertwining courses and you choose which one you want to take and once you start with that one, you have to stick with it.  At Level 1, one of the courses had a sharp turn from a tunnel exit to a jump, the other course had a better path, but included the A-frame.  I decided to go with the sharp turn.  The first obstacle was a tire, so I did not lead out.  Kala took the course like she had it memorized or something.  She completed the 38 second course time in only 12.89 seconds!  She got another Qualifier and first place.  Wow – it was great!

The second event for that day for her was another Fullhouse.  Unlike the Colors, she acted like she could have cared less.  She didn’t even run or go for any obstacles and when we got over by the sniffing area – that was it – she wouldn’t budge.  I almost had to ask for her leash to get her off the course.  Very disappointing.  Not that I expect to be perfect on every run – especially on the first trial.  I was very happy with the other runs, but I was concerned at her lack of drive to go out and do anything.  So, along with everything else, I will be getting her excited before each practice run, so she will be ready to go out and have fun.

Our next trial is in early November so we have less than a month to get ready.  One of the big issues at this last trial was the heat.  It was in the 90’s both days and almost no breeze or anything.  My other Aussie, Sullivan, did her best, but did not Qualify in anything.  She does not run well in the heat and it was just too much for her.  We came close in the early morning events, but just went downhill as the day got hotter.

I learned some good lessons from her  runs too and will be posting them soon – off to practice!

click here for more agility!

click here for more agility!

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