When I adopted Gina last October, I was told that she had a very strong work ethic, combined with an extremely high drive and desire to please. Combining those ingredients can often translate into a terrific agility dog. Sanchez was my first agility dog, and I had so much fun learning about the sport. But, Sanchez just often wanted to make up his own course. And, I spent so much of my energy trying to build his drive. Given the choice, he’d always prefer to be running free on the beach.
Even though they are both Labs and are both career change dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind, they have completely different personalities. While Gina is happy, happy, happy all the time, ….well, she’s like happiness on steroids running agility. When we pull up to the agility field, I can instantly hear her tail thumping against her crate.
Everything about agility is fun with Gina. She tries so hard, and it’s so rewarding being able to concentrate on my handling skills. The clearer I am, the happier and faster she is. It doesn’t hurt that she also has a very small frame. Sanchez, on the other hand, is built more like a football player, with very broad shoulders. Looking back on my agility career with Sanchez, it now feels like I was trying to make a football player be a ballerina. Gina is more like a female gymnast ~ petite, strong, muscular, and energetic!
What I love most about agility is learning about my dog and becoming aware of how much they notice every thing about my body language. Moving your foot an inch in one direction can mean the difference between them taking an obstacle you want or taking an off-course obstacle.
After 10 months of agility classes at Ace Dog Sports, private lessons with Sandy Rogers, and three fun matches, we entered our first agility trial. To mark the occasion, Jeanne Luchtel, her puppy raiser from Guide Dogs for the Blind flew down from Seattle to see her.
And what a happy day it was! She got progressively better all day and it culminated with this standard course run. She ran a clean run (scored 100) that was 28 seconds under standard course time. It earned her a second place. She was so good, that she almost covers my handling errors. We both can barely wait until her next trial in two weeks. Go Gina!!! Good Girl.
Do you participate in any canine sports or activities? How has it changed your relationship with your dog? Thanks for clicking on “reply” and posting your comment.
As co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.