Friday, January 16, 2009

Speedy Girl

Last night Django and Maebe started their new session of agility class. It is our usual Thursday night routine; however, this night I had to handle Maebe, since her usual wrangler (my husband) was out of town on business.

I have handled Maebe on occassion in classes and a handful of times during trials. I am well aware that she is fast. But, I'm a runner, and I've handled Tristan plenty of times before, who is consistently one of the faster dogs out there. I know it is a struggle to keep with her, but I didn't figure I would get so completely dusted on the course. That dog is just insane on the agility course.

We started out OK, then had a tunnel/chute combo, which basically just provided a straightaway for her to gain speed. Out of the chute were 12 weave poles - not bad, you can usually catch up to the dog in the weaves, so I was counting on that. But I swear, she hit those poles and freakin' ACCELERATED. Those led to a curved tunnel, so I quickly crossed behind her and ran like hell past the next two obstacles - two bar jumps - and headed toward the dog walk. She caught me in no time, clearing both jumps, hit the dog walk and was past it before I was anywhere close to the up-ramp. At which point, I just stopped, doubled-over laughing because - really - how do I possibly handle when the dog is almost the width of the building ahead of me? Keep in mind that Maebe screams continuously the entire time as she runs, so I can shout the commands at the top of my lungs, but odds are slim she'll hear them at that point.

The sad part of all this is now I can't really give Lowell all my armchair-coach handling advice like: "Don't try to race her," "Stay calm," "Don't get frantic and rush," etc. I think the only hope is to teach her to read and show her the course maps beforehand. I think all I can say to him now is "Yeah . . . Good luck with that."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Farfel, and another CPE Weekend

We had a dog-filled start to our new year.

On New Year's Eve, we had pretty much decided to have a quiet evening at home, cook a nice meal, and attempt to stay awake until midnight this year (not an easy task for people who normally get up at 5 AM even on the weekends). We failed on all accounts. At about 6 PM, we decided that it might be nice to actually get out for a bit and go in to town for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

On our way to town though, we caught out of the corner of our eye a brown, furry tail cruising at top speed down the sidewalk. Then, a little brown dog darted into the middle of the intersection we were approaching, came to a stop, and stood there in the road wondering what to do. There is a lot of traffic at this intersection, and we were sure the little guy was going to get hit. Cars slowed down around him though, fortunately. My husband got out of our car, at which point the little guy made a bee-line for him, looking happy and relieved that someone was there to get him out of this predicament.

We tossed the dog into the crate we keep in the back of the car, and drove back in to the neighborhood, feeling sure we would come across frantic owners searching for him. No such luck, and though he was wearing a collar, he had no tags. Since the Humane Society was closed for the holiday, we realized we had a house guest for a couple nights.

We called him Farfel, after the Seinfeld episode "The Dog", where Jerry unexpectedly has to take care of a stranger's dog for a few nights. Unlike that dog, though, Farfel was a perfect little gentleman, and about the friendliest thing I've ever seen.

On Jan. 2, when the Humane Society opened, I took him there to see if there were any lost dog reports or if he had a microchip. They recognized him right away, said he had been there before, was a "repeat offender," and they had already been contacted by his owner. So, Farfel got to hang out there for a bit to wait for his owner. I hope this time they keep him contained and put identification on him. I hate to think what could happen if he got out again - he came awful close to being squished during this adventure.

We also had another weekend of agility on Jan. 3-4 with Django and Maebe. Both did very well. Maebe especially was tearing up the courses. She especially excelled at Jackpot, which is a point-earning game where you complete as many obstacles as you can within a certain time limit in order to gain points. In order to qualify, the highest levels need 44 points. Maebe earned 71!