Its the New Style.

So, last night was our first night at the “new trainer’s”. Wow. It was so different, overall in a good way. So funny just how opposite people’s methods can be. And I think I am really fortunate how I randomly stumbled into my first trainer to teach me the basics.

My regular classes go like this; Show up to gorgeous, immaculately groomed agility facility. Wait outside of gate until prior class exits AND you are specifically told to come in. Leash/lash up dogs in doggie parking zone. Get info/news/opinions/tid bits from week prior (this is usually helpful info, but sometimes when there are 6 or 7 people in a class it stresses me out b/c I know any talking means less training). Go walk course with trainer. She usually suggests what she would do as we are walking course, but minimal directions or dissections on body position or handling minutiae. Everybody goes back, runs the course. When you run the course, if you screw up, you can go back and do that part, but once youre done youre done, cause there’s a long line waiting for their turn. If you screw up, you may or may not get specific input on what happened. If its clear handler eff-up, you may even get a very strong correction from trainer. If its ambiguous, you may get nothing at all. Class ends promptly on the hour, and everyone is ushered out. Since I go to the Late Late class, usually I can corral her for a few minutes of questions (which I inevitably have). If they are related to agility in general, I get good answers. If its related to “Why is my dog crazy?” I usually get blank stares. Which to her credit I guess isnt really her problem.

She is very cut-and-dried, and she has been teaching for a long time. So I understand that she has things down to a system. However, there is minimal warm fuzzies. Which is fine 90% of the time, but when I am really struggling and think I will off myself for being the crappiest handler in the world, a little encouragement would be nice. Once in a while. But again, I think we made the absolute right choice to start out with.

So, the “New Style.” First impressions anyway. Agility “field” is in backyard of a cute little beach house, complete with sitting area with patio furniture. Lots of trainer’s dogs all about, corralled on the deck, in the house, peering through windows at you. Only 2 other people in my class last night, including a 3lb Chihuahua. Freaking adorable. Everyone settles in, trainer plays and cuddles with student dogs, compliments Forest on his stunning good looks and athleticism. Asks if we specifically chose him from the pound as an agility prospect (hah! If only I knew then…).

We do small yet very intense sequences–Ack. Serpentines and threadles and push throughs, oh my. And yet all was very casual. Talk of Pam Anderson’s hair. Pete happened to go with me, so while I was going he was drilled by dog ladies about “what breed? what pound? how old is he? how many teeth does he have?”( Pete is a sport, btw.) So I ran my not-so-pretty drills, and I got encouraged, and dissected and very specifically told EXACTLY where to put my feet, and point my hands, and I need to be WAY closer to the jumps, and its okay to be ahead, and oh my god my head might explode. But it was good. And if I effed up, I did it again, and again, and by the end I wasnt freaking out about wasting time. Because we went over, way over, and everyone seemed to be perfectly happy.

We learned a lot. And it was good. I think we’ll be back. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by going to 2 different trainers immediately before my first trial. Not that I’ll remember anything when I am out there anyways…. Hah.

Oh, and looks like we’ll be doing some lure coursing this weekend. Run Forest Run.

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And So It Begins…

I soon was doing research online about dog training to deal with this wild hair/hare(?) we suddenly found ourselves with. And quickly fell into the positive dog training realm, which morphed into the clicker realm, which then dovetailed into agility. Well really maybe I found agility when searching “what to do with hyperactive spastic dogs”. This little innocent-at-first-glance dog needed exercise. Like a LOT of exercise. Like at least an hour a day of running like a maniac down the beach, up the mountain bike trails, lapping the dog park (which was generally avoided due to anti-other dog issues), across the street to the empty lot to eat decaying things, etc etc.

I knew what agility was, but it seemed pretty nerdy. I knew about crazy dog people as they were simply an extension of the crazy horse people I grew up surrounded by (sorry to my poor parents who put up with our hobby-cum-childhood-obsession). And so was skeptical. Plus how the hell are you supposed to get your dog to run through those poles like that?!?!? But figured, hey, what the heck. I am jobless and a dork so how much more of a dork can I be by trying out a few of these classes?

We drove out to Escondido to the first San Diego agility trainer I found online. She had a decent website with a lot of content–which in my Marketing-centric brain is usually a sign of at least legitimacy. Our first class was scary, I remember. The trainer was very strict and rather serious, and there were a lot of “rules” and a lot of standing around and explaining of things. Not a lot of action. Which at first was okay because even though we were in a beautiful fully-fenced-in arena, I was still terrified that the second the leash came off he’d be off like a shot. Somehow, between the food-motivation and leash help we mostly managed to semi-keep it together. There was a woman in the class who had a Standard Poodle, and I let Forest sniff his butt, and the lady turned and snapped at me “DON’T let your dog do that!” Eek. Okay crazy dog people.

So, for whatever reason, we kept going. We even somehow ended up with this funny little clique of us three ladies who all started agility at the same time. These ladies were so far from my typical friend circles (ie. they were 10 and 20 years older than me, weren’t wearing Volcom and Vans or have full sleeves or expensive hair cuts) but they were nice and normal and I could dog geek out with them. It was a nice change.

And so we went every week, then I got competitive and went twice a week for a while. And then I got a job. Lame. Well not really for obvious reasons, but it threw my dog and agility-focused days off track for a bit. Now we just drive down to my very serious yet very nice and extremely knowledgeable trainer for lessons every week. The drive is over an hour but I look forward to it, every week.

And now there are heavy dog crates that we drag around and sketchy hodgepodge training obstacles in the patio and dog treats spilling out of the cupboards and freezer and car consoles and pockets and I drive out to places like BFE to go to Fun Matches (when I am allowed by my trainer). This whole silly thing is frighteningly addicting. Thank god P has not only begrudgingly let me appropriate his rightful dog, but tolerated me turning into a crazy dog lady. So far…

Intro. (aka New Year, New Obsession)

Here goes the dog blog.

I used to blog. A while ago. Back when things were a lot more dramatic and gut-wrenching. Or at least I thought that’s how it was. Then I stopped, when I came home and life settled in a bit. Sort of. Or maybe I just took it in stride better. Things still though have been just as if not more tumultuous these last almost four years since making the move home, but I think I just get less flapped about it. Funny how quickly you can change and move on.

So we have completed the move. To the OC from the SD. -sigh-. But it is what it is and we are moving into the lovely bones of the old Beach House. The poor thing is tired and neglected, but we seem to be injecting life back into it alongside the dear aunt and her crazy on-again-off-again boyfriend. But thats a whole ‘nother story. We will miss our friends, but then again we still stay friends with our real friends, even when we don’t live nearby. We were forced from the homeland because Pete got laid off in August and I finally got a job in Newport Beach after a very long year of being unemployed and we can save money by living at the Beach. I tried group Y and freelance PR, but that almost killed me. I need a real job. Stability and steady paychecks and all that nonsense.

And then there are the dogs. I really was inspired to start this up again because of my newfound love of the silliness and dorkiness that is dog agility. And because of a certain blog that I am obsessed with (which I am sure will be divulged eventually). I write for a living, and it doesn’t hurt to keep things flowing by writing my own nonsense on the side. I figure instead of ranting about the day to day dramas of work and family feuds and annoying people in line at the grocery store, I can chronicle to progress of Forest’s and my foray into the world of crazy dog lady agility.

So, here’s to the tundrah blog, Volume 2. Many years later…. to be continued.

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This blog is dedicated to my Nanie. For giving us so much of yourself–some of the best of which include a sense of style (as best as I can live up to); a great love for our dogs, horses, and all of the outdoor world; and beautiful places to live and exist. We will love you forever and miss you always.

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