This weekend was Phenom’s first agility run at a trial.
She ran Jumpers With Weaves Novice B at Concord Saturday and Sunday. We’re still working on our contacts, so just entered JWW. I was so so proud of her. She was great getting measured (19 3/4″). She wants to tackle and pounce and kiss everyone she meets. She tugged with me while we were waiting to go. She stayed at the startline. When we ran I could hear her feet digging into the artificial turf – way different than Ace. He barked the entire time. This was very quiet. I accidentally called her off a jump before the weaves and we had a few other bobbles, but it was so fun running with her. And she was having a great time. She was so excited at the end. Me too. I was so proud of her. And I think she was proud of herself too. We got a qualifying score and 3rd place. Yay ribbon photos!!
Here’s video of her first run on Saturday:
She did great on Sunday too.
I was rushing a bit and got ahead of myself, so pulled her off some jumps and we didn’t qualify. But her weaves were awesome. I’m looking forward to us finding our rhythm even more on course.
Here’s her run on Sunday:
And she had a great time again – me too.
It was also fun getting to see lots of friends. I’m already looking forward to our next trial.
And Phenom wants more ribbon photos . . . . okay, maybe that’s just me.
*Agility action photos by Phyllis Ensley Photographers. Ribbon photos by – me!
This time of year as the days get shorter – my trips to the park are often in the dark. Just the other day while we were there – soccer practice had gone long, and they were finishing up some drills in the dark.
Then one by one – several of the parents sitting in their cars waiting to pick up their kids started turning on their headlights. In fact, a couple others even turned on their car lights for me and my dogs as our practice in a nearby field went a little long as well.
But it made me think about all those people who’ve shown their light for me. In the past and still today. Family, friends, teachers, co-workers, bosses, mentors, trainers, handlers, total strangers and so, so many great animals. What’s interesting is – those who shine the spotlight are often hidden in the darkness. And it’s easy to forget they are there. But they are. Even in the dark, especially in the dark, they shine on.
It’s almost halloween – so scary story time. Well – sort of.
Piper has always been a big fan of Halloween – I think it’s because she’s pretty much fearless. Just last year she braved zombies and all sorts of other strange characters to help me win a costume contest at work. And I remember her first halloween when we lived in Raleigh – there was a guy standing outside our apartment in a complete skeleton costume. While he was standing there smoking a cigarette – she jumped up on him and gave him a big kiss on the face. Maybe she thought he needed cheering up.
But that same fall Piper and I were at the park – just like pretty much every morning before work. But this one morning she took off way down the field – not sure what she was after. But pretty soon she came trotting back and as she got closer, I noticed something was in her mouth. No – it couldn’t be. I was sure that wasn’t what I was seeing.
But yes, as she got almost to me – you could see it hanging out of her mouth.
A hand. And she dropped it by my feet.
Well, much to my relief – it was an “Assess-A-Hand” a tool used to evaluate dogs for food aggression. I guess someone had left it at the park and the stick part had fallen out – leaving just the rubber hand and sleeve.
Piper was so pleased with herself and excited with her new present for me – a spare hand.
But she didn’t need to get me that – she’s always been my right-hand girl.
I entered Phenom in her first trial. Yay! Excited – and nervous. Well, it’s not until November so we have time. But still – entry sent off. It’s feeling real now. And not so sure we’re ready.
But I was thinking – I don’t know if I’ve done much of anything that meant something where I felt totally prepared. I almost always feel like there’s more I need to do. And that’s probably what drives me. So – it’s a good thing – right? That’s what I’m telling myself.
And actually as long as we go out and there and give it all we’ve got and have fun – then we’ve accomplished what I want.
Phenom and I always have fun doing most anything together. And she really seems to enjoy our training sessions. It’s nice when I leave her at the startline, walk out and look back at her. Because she gives me this look like – we’ve got this. Let’s go.
So – let’s go. Here’s a video of some of the things we’ve been working on.
Fun. Fun. Wheeeee . . . .
In 1909 a 12-year-old girl named Margaret would write a note in a book that her great granddaughter who was named after her would read more than 100 years later.
I was named after my great grandmother, Margaret Cleveland Bond. Cleveland was her maiden name. She didn’t have a middle name.
Her note from the past was a book recommendation to a childhood friend named Hood. I passed that along to her son, my Granddad, who found that the book, Mr. Crewe’s Career, was now free for Kindle. Then he read it too.
So we both traveled back in time.
I was drawn to take it from the shelf because it was by Louisa May Alcott who also wrote Little Women, one of my favorite books. But later when I discovered the messages inside, it was like I was meant to meet that book. It was given to her by her teacher for excellence in deportment or manners. I got a trophy in school once with something similar engraved on it.
I’ve always been interested in family history. It’s where you came from. It’s who helped shape your character. And in my case – who helped inspire my name. I’ve always been proud of that. I think for writers – especially – names are really important, because it’s your connection to the written word.
There’s something about flipping through pages of a book and seeing the writing of the Margaret I was named for. She even signed her name like I often do.
When I got Piper more than 11 years ago – I read an unfortunate and ill-informed dog training book that said not to play tug with your puppy, because it promotes aggression. Bad advice. Especially for anyone considering dog sports. So as Piper got about a year old she would retrieve and knew all sorts of tricks, but wasn’t really interested in tugging at all. Her focus on me also seemed to disappear as well. She had always been pretty independent, but when I would take her to training classes – it was as if I was invisible. This was a class where each dog and handler worked one at a time while everyone watched. Of course we got all the Lassie jokes as my collie completely ignored my repeated attempts to get her to play while I felt the fixed stare of the all the people and dogs watching my every move. Now that – is humbling.
So my instructor encouraged me to find anything she would put in her mouth and slightly tug and then give her whatever her most prized possession was. So – she had many things that she loved – but by far her favorite was a deer bone she found once on our walk through the woods. Man – whenever I brought that thing out she would jump around it in a circle, bark and toss it up in the air. Sort of – well, pretty much exactly like – the snoopy dance. So – I had that piece – now to find what she would tug.
I needed something stretchy and light. I tried all sorts of things, but the only thing I could get her to tug was a pair of panty hose. Yep. That’s right. It was really stretchy and something she thought she probably wasn’t supposed to have – which made it even more enticing. Of course – it wasn’t the coolest looking tug toy. In fact – it was pretty embarrassing. But we had already done embarrassing – so I sucked it up. I grabbed that deer bone and the panty hose, stuck it in my training bag and off to class we went.
Well, we definitely got some funny looks at first. But it actually worked. She grabbed that pair of panty hose and tugged it – just ever so slightly, and then she got her prized possession. She partied so much with that deer bone that she and I both forgot a whole room full of people were watching us play with panty hose and a deer bone.
And it wasn’t long before every class – and in many different situations – I had her complete attention. Her tugging improved, and we were able to progress to an actual tug toy. Eleven years later, she’ll tug on just about anything I ask. So, eventually the panty hose went in the trash. But I think that deer bone is still around here somewhere. Just in case.