07 August 2012

The perils of alt handling.

Sometimes, little girls take a spin at agility with my dogs. I set up a baby agility course at work, and Ruby and Otterpop work hard to figure out what it is the kids want them to do. Sending into weave poles running backwards with an off side hand? No problem. Waving treats around just above their noses while yelling TUNNEL and pointing at a jump? 

They're on it. You ask for agility, you get agility.

Even Ruby, who can't even hear them, and can barely see where's she's going, speeds around courses and when the little handlers aren't clear, she improvises. Ruby throws in extra teeters with flair. Luckily, it's lowered and she can't hurt herself when she flings herself on backwards.

Her junior handlers still aren't clear on which end you send the dog to. Agility makes them giddy. Much arm waving and taking any old obstacle, backwards isn't a problem.

Gustavo, on the other hand, he tries, but they baffle him. He loves those kids, he loves agility, he wants to have a turn, but he just can't figure out what they're trying to get him to do. A little bit of bad handling and he's running around in circles, laying down, looking back at me with a horrified expression until I call him in and let him lay down under the shade of the picnic table.

"But I want to run GOOEY!" is the usual complaint, when I hand over Otterpop and give them a new course.

Gooey gets to rest. Gooey isn't cut out to be an agility teacher. I can almost see smoke coming out his ears, little googly eyes spinning around in his head.

Later on, in class, I just make sure I am crystal clear with him. He is so relieved to be doing real agility with me. He isn't a dog you get to make errors with. So as long as I handle him well, he is a super star. We run some hard sequences, and he tries his hardest, runs fast, turns just where I want.

No horrified expression. No sad little circle meltdowns or running for the tunnel.

He can spend his time at work sitting on laps. Leave the agility to the ringers. He's my agility dog.

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