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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Babboo preparing for Agility demonstration - A venture down memory lane



On the first go round of practice for the demonstration run we had volunteered for on the agility course at the Marin Humane society, Babboo did himself proud, veering off track only once for a detour over the A-Frame, which was not part of the course. This made the other participants laugh, but he was quickly drawn back on track and took all the jumps and tunnels like a pro.

His mom, me, was very proud of her boy too. At the end of the week, we were to be part of a demonstration of agility for the public at a special course set up just for the occasion as part of the Humane Society's promotional activities.

Other dogs with vastly more experience on the equipment (with owners with vastly more time on their hands and money to spend on training classes), did not fare so well.  Except for spunky little Poseidon, a Jack Russell, who was a leaping fool, and a fluffy Keeshoundish looking dog, whose prowess was first rate.

I recognized two of the ladies from the Intermediate class, in which I had attempted to enroll Babboo as he had already passed Agility 2 last year.  In the one class we attended, the older of the two with a rather overweight blonde Cocker looking mix complained to the instructor that Babboo was taking away from their precious time, as he needed a little extra help getting the knack of the “target,” the plastic cottage cheese container cap that marked the end of the narrow dog walking platform.  Babboo in his eagerness overshot the target time and again and had to be coaxed with treats to perfect the art.

Other than that, he tunneled and jumped with the best of them.  Better in my humble opinion, given his months away from the course, while these dogs’ parents bragged about their weekly instruction over the past year. 

Taking the hint that we weren’t wanted in this class of semi-pros, we dropped back to another Agility 2, taught by the same instructor and just as challenging.  Babboo aced his first class there, becoming a world class targeter.  There were pitfalls to this new skill, however, as he much preferred targeting for treats than tunneling or jumping for praise.  He’s a natural rooter, and should have been a truffle dog.  I could see him snarfing along through the loamy earth, turning up the prized tidbits (and probably scarfing them down before the humans could harvest them from his quick nose and snout). 

Babboo’s Achilles heel is treats dropped in the grass by handlers, myself included; his nose catches the whiff of a morsel deep in the turf, he he’s onto it fast, all lessons forgotten.  Luring him back to attention is my job, and not always easily accomplished.

So going into a group of dogs practicing for a demonstration of their skills for the public was a giant leap of faith on my part. On his second and third turns on the course, which had been opened up slightly for the ease of handlers who, despite their experience, got flustered over fast turns and short distances between hurdles, he pretty much bombed. More distance between jumps means more time for snurfing in the grass for goodies. More time for distractions, a passing road grader, a dog in the next field, a pee on the side of the tunnel to my horror, after making sure he had time to “go” between turns in the proper location.

And perhaps he was just plan bored. Mom, I did this already, give me something new.  His third round was pure disaster; he snurfed, he veered, he completely ignored the tunnel, which is usually his favorite trick.

Frida in agility
Other dogs to be fair did not do much better; the ladies from Intermediate got confused about what to do next, the older one had a hurt ankle and limped her way through the course, another’s refused the tunnel, and missed half the jumps altogether. Even brilliant Poseidon and Keeshound took detours.

This was our first go at it. Thursday we are back for more punishment.  We’ll see. Babboo may be a washout, or just an example of what not to do in your agility trials.  Either way, he’s a winner to me.

Update -  Babboo was ok on the field at the demonstration but soon thereafter, his boredom with all things agility finally won out, and we removed him from class. By that time, he had a sister, Frida, Queen Frida to you, who is now my ace agility dog. Babboo prefers the regal pose in chairs.


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