Well it hardly seems like five minutes since I bought Hector home for the first time, he was that tiny that for a good couple of months he fitted in a cat carrier and yet here we were at his first ever competition, and yes I was more than a little excited. Hec learnt a lot of his agility foundations in my living room; turns were practiced round cones; waits were practiced with the carefully engineered distractions of my other dogs (well that's what I like to think of them as); his contacts were trained and proofed on a contact trainer and after finding that I had enough room for six weaves in the living room he learnt to weave there too. We supplemented that with whatever training we could squeeze in before classes started, but those 5-10 minutes each week at the agility field soon started to add up. Along with agility training, Hector learnt lots of tricks, some obedience exercises and practiced how to run as fast as he possibly could on walks and obviously get himself fit. So that was it we were ready for our first competition, Hec handled the noisy atmosphere without a care in the world; all his foundations were solid, he waited on the start line, listened to all his commands, his contacts were perfect 2 on 2 offs and he even managed to weave! We didn't manage any clear rounds mainly because we are still a new partnership and I am learning where he might need an extra bit of help but to say I am pleased with his debut is an understatement, I can't wait for his next competition.
Running five dogs in competitions was exhausting, especially when one of them is Rufus who seems to require so much more energy than anybody else! Nancy gets better with each competition, and thrives on the noisy atmosphere of indoor arenas, sadly this is the opposite to Connie who finds the whole atmosphere very stressful. Connie did a lovely run in her first jumping course but found the enclosed environment difficult to focus in for her other runs. Still we have a plan to help Connie cope inside so hopefully at Connie's next show she'll be back on form. Although Connie and Nancy are both at a similar stage in their agility careers and have trained together since they started their agility foundations, they are both very different dogs who have different needs, so need to be trained and handled differently. Please always remember that your dog is an individual and so what might be appropriate for somebody else's dog, may not be right for your dog.
I remember saying to Ann when we first started up the club, that wouldn't it be fantastic if one day we'd have handlers/dogs trained by us that were competing. Well a few of you have already made your debuts in unaffiliated shows or anysize classes, and now we have several of you entering your first grade 1 show. I guess I'd better start thinking up some new hopes/plans, as that one is firmly ticked off the list. And we've got lots more agility debuts to look forward to over the next coming season.