Friday, January 27, 2012

Great Agility Class

This isn't a dance related post, but not all of them are going to be.  Tessa is studying Agility, as well as dance, and at some point we will probably train and do some Rally, as well.

We had an excellent Agility class last night!  I switched Tessa into the earlier class, which used to be Maddie's class because she is weaving without wires and Dean can still benefit from them.  The second class uses wires on the weaves, the earlier class doesn't.  Technically, the earlier class is above Tessa's level, but really she is on par with a good many of the dogs in there.  She has less experience, but her skills are coming along quickly.

Last summer she got to run in Thursday night class because Maddie, and then Dean, were sidelined for injuries.  Back then all she did, pretty much, were jumps.  I would either throw food over the jump or use peanut butter on a spoon.  Now she is jumping beautifully and we are starting to work on handling skills!

One thing that is unique about Tessa (to me) is that she likes a little bit of space between her and the equipment.  Maddie liked to be as close to me as possible, so I would run as close to the equipment as I could.  I will crowd Tessa right past the jumps if I run like that, so I am working on developing an entirely new way of running.  I'm enjoying it.  I love that Tessa, as my partner, is starting to give me input like that.

At one point I did a front cross and she landed with a thud.  Our instructor pointed out that I need to cross sooner so she knows I'm going to do so before she takes off.  That is different!!  Again, Maddie and I were usually side by side.  I had to cross while she was in mid-air, and for her it worked.  Tessa needs the information before she gets in the air.  So I did that, and it was the coolest sensation!  It sounds silly, but it really was like telling her what she was going to do before she did it!  So, now I need to work on crossing earlier so she can get that information.

Another high point of our evening was one time when I sent her into a tunnel in a corner.  It wasn't a huge send, but it was definitely a send.  And once she was well on her way (but not in the tunnel), I moved off to set the line for the jump to the weaves that followed.  I had never experienced that, not in all the years that Maddie and I did this.  It was like, "you go do that and I'll get us ready for the next thing!"  And Tessa loves working with me like that.  She has a spark of independence that really adds a new dimension to the way we run together.  As that develops it is going to be very fun!

Finally, she is making great progress with her crate work.  After her class, I had her inside during Dean's class while he was in the car between turns.  She is to the point where I can go out on the floor and set a jump bar and she is OK being left.  We hadn't worked on crate stuff for a while, so I was glad that she has actually progressed with that.

Of course, her trick training is never far from her mind.  While she was waiting her turn at one point, she started to get antsy and she started offering me behaviors.  I went with it for a bit because she doesn't get at all frenetic.  She was in a sit offering me paw when she decided to take it a step further.  She lifted her front paw and then lifted her back paw at the same time!!  She was offering both paws at once!!  Smart girl!

This weekend I am hoping to work on some of her Freestyle moves in preparation for her upcoming demo and competition.  I need to get some fabric to make the prop.  Also, she is going to her very first Agility seminar tomorrow!  This is the good stuff!!

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