On Saturday I drove to Salisbury for classes. The first class starts at 2:00 and is the puppy/beginner agility class. I took this class last week with Midge, but decided to switch her out with Fern and then at home, practice on what I learned with Midge. Fern did well for about 30 minutes, then I could see she was starting to crash, so I finished the class with Midge. An hour long class is a bit too much for an eleven week old puppy. Midge enjoyed herself in the class. She got to run over a flattened A-frame, go through weave-o-matic weave poles which we gradually moved up into a straight position so she had to weave through them, which she did. We also started with single box jump drills.

For the Master’s level class (Gel’s class), the instructor had set up a USDAA Grand Prix course. It was brutal! As always, she broke the course into two segments and then once we had all had the opportunity to run half the course, we ran the entire course. I almost fell over in exhaustion and frustration! There was so much handling involved. I got very frustrated with myself because my handling felt so awful. The instructor came out and talked to me about that (my frustration), which was a good thing! She told me afterwards that Gel is running really, really nice, which he is. Luckily Gel is immune to my frustration; Midge isn’t going to be so I need to get better about that.

While I had Fern and then Midge in their class, Gel was in the car in his crate carrying on loudly about being left behind. He thinks he should be the center of my universe (he is, but I can’t let him know that) all the time. While we were waiting for the other dogs to run, I lie Gel down by my car in the shade. He may pop up to look at a particularly svelte female Border Collie running the course, but in general, he stays put. Several of the handlers asked me how long it took me to teach him to stay like that. I thought about it and said, he’s always done it. I taught start line stays as part of my foundation work. When I tell Gel to stay put, he’s pretty darned good about doing so. He never blows start line stays.

I wish I had a dollar for everyone who comments on how nice my dogs are. Even though Gel can be rude when greeting people (he is getting better at it); this initial rudeness is soon forgotten when they watch him work and just be Gel. Midge is simply a pleasant dog to be around. I had nothing to do with this, this is how she came to me. Fern loves to be handed off to anyone who wants to hold her and expresses her appreciation with tons of kisses. She’s very appropriate when meeting new dogs, she doesn’t run into a strange dog’s space, she’s not afraid, just appropriate. She travels wonderfully (they all do) and is quiet in her crate, even when she’s left alone in the car.

On Sunday I brought the flock of sheep out into the back fields and worked both dogs, which was a lot of fun. I haven’t had the dogs on sheep, except for moving them around to graze in quite a while. I knew Midge was happy, she had a huge smile on her face! I had intended to get some photographs on Sunday, but that didn’t happen. Later in the evening, I worked Gel on weave pole entries at speed.

I did finish painting the contact areas on my A-frame and teeter board as well as putting a fresh coat of paint on the dog walk. Now all I need is someone to help me carry the A-frame over to where I practice and to buy a teeter base to mount the board one. My table is done too, except for buying the PVC connectors to make the legs it will sit on. For now, I can use it on the ground.

Next Saturday I go to Lynne Stephen’s facility for a lesson. Lynne helped me start Gel in agility. Her foundation training has really paid off. I am looking forward to her assistance in getting Midge going as she’s a very different dog than Gel.

I go to three different agility instructors, all within 70 miles. I get something useful out of all of them and do not find their styles conflicting at all. I take what I can from them and then go from there. It is very, very nice to be able to get to such qualified instructors without having to drive three hours one way as I was doing for herding instruction.