Equation: One hour at agility with Beth = a lifetime of pure frustration.
‘You’re supposed to go through the tunnel. Not run along the top.’ Beth looks so pleased with herself. She is in paradise, all these dogs. This is pure playtime. The trainer I call ‘Grandma trainer’ shouts at her collie to stop chasing the long-haired hound round and through the course, totally distracting all the other dogs who want to join in, mayhem rules. I try to control Beth who desperately wants to join them. Once order is restored, we go back to the start of the course and I position Beth to go over the jump and through the tunnel.
She’s got the message, into the tunnel entrance she runs and in ecstasy I rush to the other end. She’s not there. No. Madam is still at the entrance, peering along the tunnel at me with a cheeky look, laughing at me. Seems my signals still aren’t clear enough. ‘We’re getting there,’ says the grandmotherly trainer kindly.
At last all seems to click into place, the tunnel, yes, run through it. Now over the jump – There is a God, she has – throw her toy over the last jump. She stops, looks at me as if to say, ‘I’m on strike. Where’s my treat.’ So, back we trudge to the start for our nth attempt. ‘Don’t worry,’ says Grandma trainer. I’m not. ‘The others have been coming for a long time,’ she says sympathetically. My focus is Beth not the other dogs and owners. She needs the stimulus and I am in desperate need of the training.
Later, trying to get Beth along the plank, which, requires Beth stopping at the end with her two front paws on the grass and hind legs on the plank end I’m told ‘Your commands. They’re not clear enough. Beth doesn’t understand what you’re signalling, I mean, Beth’s great. She’s trying to understand. Just look at her.’ Miss Unpronounceable Greek name trainer says in a gooey voice. ‘She’s really enjoying herself.’ Basically Miss unpronounceable Greek name is saying ‘Beth’s great, you’re rubbish.’ Which is exactly the reason I am here, to learn how to do it.
Beth loves the seesaw, where the lessons learned on the plank come into their own. She stops like a good girl at the end with both front paws on the grass and hind paws on the plank. ‘Such a good dog,’ coos Miss Unpronounceable Greek name trainer. Beth glows in her glory.
The question is, will I survive? Let’s see what happens next week.
Jim was there to meet us to walk home over the fields. The Swan was en route, which gave me the opportunity to relax and Jim the excuse for a beer. Jim is quite taken with this agility plan. It was dark when we arrived home, with Venus shining brightly in a sky clear of cloud. Good day, tired dog, lovely walk home. Bliss is…… Let’s see what happens next week.