Wednesday nights are a bit of an escape for Mommy Me, because I’ve returned to the realm of dog training sans children. Logic and I climb into the car and go out to a cotton warehouse in Madison, and run agility (jumps, climbing — the stuff that’s really fun to watch on Animal Planet). The North Alabama Search Dog Association has rented this place, wired it with light bulbs so we can see after it gets dark, and lined the floors with rolls of blue and green carpeting so it’s softer to run on than the wood and concrete (and not as loud). And they teach classes in obedience and agility. We plan to get back into obedience, too, but that can wait for a little bit. Logic needed some fun in his life, and I need the exercise.
Linus and I did agility training together but it became clear that his fear of heights would prevent him from any sort of advancement in this. So we stopped. Every time we did the Dog Walk (it’s a narrow, elevated walkway that the dog accesses by walking up and down equally narrow ramps) he would freak out. We’d have to move each foot individually and he’d drool and quiver the entire time, leaning all of his 65 pounds on the people trying to get him across the stupid thing. We never even tried the teeter, because we knew he’d panic when it tipped, going even more insane when the opposite end hit the floor.
Logic, who is much less nervous about heights than Linus (though more neurotic about noises, which presents other problems in agility), is already showing some promise. Finding his currency is the main issue — you gotta find a dog’s “currency” to know how to bribe them to do what you want. Linus’ currency was turkey hot dogs. Logic seems to have two: cheese and the idiotic happiness of his handler.
So I sound like a FOOL running around in that cotton warehouse, dangling cheese in front of his nose, yipping “JUMP! TUNNEL! JUMP! JUMP! TABLE! DOWN!” but last night he was SO good! I was proud of him. We had to manually walk him across the Dog Walk twice, but he didn’t fall off (which is exciting for a large dog — it takes them a while to figure out where their back legs are… And Logic needs to investigate every noise, making him lift his head and lose his balance. We’re having to teach him where his back feet are AND to keep his head down. Not easy.) or lean on either me or Karen! And then for the last 10 minutes of class we could work on whatever we wanted.
We did the weavepoles a couple of times (he’s a long way from mastering that, but it’ll be very pretty to watch when he finally does figure out how to slither between them)… Which had to be annoying to anyone in earshot — VERY high-pitched “Weaveweaveweaveweaveweave!” sounds emanating from me…
And then I decided to do the 5-obstacle string that we had been working on earlier in the class. Logic keeps refusing the tunnel (I’m guessing because he’s slightly too tall to go through it comfortably, so he has to crouch to get in it), so I’m having to try strange things to convince him to enter it without losing momentum. We did the jump-tunnel-jump-jump-table string about 7 or 8 times before I ran out of steam.
I figured out that if I run like a MANIAC to the start of the course, he’ll follow happily behind. And if I get him ALL wound up, he’s more likely to do all of the obstacles (including the tunnel). But here’s the key: I must run at TOP speed to keep him excited.
I am not used to running at top speed.
But every time I did, he did the course flawlessly. And he’d flatten like a Border Collie does chasing sheep when we got to the table — a DROP. Which is what they’re supposed to do. Linus, doing everything on Linus time, would spend just as much time getting into the down as he did running the course, which drove us CRAZY. But Logic drops. Behold, the Power of Cheese.
Of course, he’d do it perfectly, it would thrill me, so I’d RACE to the start and we’d do it again. My heart was pounding in my ears for a while after that, and I got a NASTY headache from the extra bloodflow. Hm. Elaine is outta shape.
But MAN, that was fun. I can’t wait for next Wednesday.