I elected to keep this weekend low-key and for the most part, was able to do so. On Saturday I worked on my tire jump so that I could adjust the height of the tire. I also took down the chain link dog run that I had set up in my living room and replaced it with the ex-pen for confining puppies. Wally and I went to Lowes and priced materials to make an A-frame. We plan to construct the A-frame on October 20 which will leave just the table and teeter to complete. I am in the process of making five more jumps to add to my collection.
Both Heatwave and Inferno wore their collars for the first time on Saturday and that night both slept in a crate in the bedroom. All went well.
Sunday morning I had a private agility lesson with Gel and Midge. The instructor set an AKC Excellent level course with a lot of distractions. We did okay, Gel is running really, really well. My handling is still not very good, but it’s getting better. While Gel was resting, we messed around with Midge and the puppies a bit. After the lesson, the puppies got to play with the instructor’s Toy Fox Terriers. They haven’t seen such small dogs before but like everything else, it didn’t faze them.
Given that Gel is running so well in agility, I elected to pull him from the AKC herding trial on November 10 and 11 and do an agility trial the next weekend instead. Since we’ve all but lost daylight after I get home from work, I can’t work stock so preparing for a trial is difficult. I can practice agility using supplementary lighting out in my field so it makes sense to focus on agility now and come back to herding in the spring when we have light.
Tonight I plan to start Midge on Linda Mecklenburg’s jumping foundation program which was featured in the Clean Run magazine beginning January, 2006. The series ran a full nine months. It is designed to reward the dog for jumping cleanly and to give it the proper skills to jump clean based on the handler’s body language. Midge is still not so sure about this agility business, but I think she’ll come around in time. She seems to be having a hard time accepting “rewards” in the form of toys or treats for work. She’s both food and toy motivated, but it is still a foreign concept for her. A herding dog’s “rewards” come in the form of access to sheep. If they do what the handler wants, they get to continue to work sheep; they don’t get treats or toys.