Thursday, October 4, 2012

back in the old days

Before I had a baby and got back into knitting and then started dyeing and had fiber devour my mind, house, and career, I did a lot of training with my dog, Connor.

Rocket Dog

He is some sort of sheepdog mix (Briard? bearded collie?) that we adopted from the pound. Best dog ever. Sweet, friendly, smart, and eager to please. And fast.

We did competition obedience for a while and earned our novice titles, in organizations that let All-American dogs compete (which reminds me of my Fourth of July post and how it's interesting that All-American is the term for mixed breeds, in counterpoint to how purists of every sort seem to be dominating the airwaves these days, but never mind that), but his true love is agility. We competed in a lot of trials and quite frankly, we were a sucky team. He would get so excited and his brain would turn off, and I would get completely frustrated because he wasn't listening to me. Coming home from our last trial in Canada, when I was seven months pregnant, the customs agent asked me how the trial had gone. I actually burst into tears.

So then I was busy with other things and honestly, the last summer of competition had been too frustrating for me to be very excited about trialing again. In agility, you either qualify or you don't, and we'd missed a lot of Qs by not very much. It was worse than blowing the runs entirely.

We still went out and did it for fun once in a while, and we did our local club's trial several years ago. But the dog is getting old now, and last summer we didn't do any agility at all because he was limping. I thought his competition days were long over. But this summer, I took him out a few times, and he was better than ever. A lot of it has to do with parenting--my style now is to adapt to the dog, instead of trying to force him to adapt to me.

So I entered my 12-year-old dog in a trial last weekend. Our old friends were delighted to see us. Connor was beyond thrilled to be back in the ring. And we were much better than we'd ever been before. Still not always clean--we missed the Q on this run by one fault--but our last run of the day (after my husband had taken the child and the camera home) was perfect. My elderly dog ran a jumpers course (all jumps, no other types of obstacles) with a standard course time of 32 seconds in 18.55 seconds. Old man still has it.

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