On class nights, my evening goes something like this. I pick up Theo at doggy daycare, then walk him around for 30 minutes because there's a half hour gap between when doggy daycare closes and when class starts. I'm ok with this because Theo has so much energy, he could use the walk. I usually get lots of strange looks from the people who live in the neighborhood I walk in because they're private streets, and no one recognizes me. One day I was sitting down on the curb feeding Theo his dinner (since there's not time to go home first, I bring a bag of kibble) and some guy driving by actually stopped and asked if I needed help with something. Either I looked like I was in distress, or I looked like I was up to no good. Don't know which. ;p When it's time for class, I take Theo to get a drink of water, then take him around as many obstacles as we can get to for a warm up. Really, I'm just trying to get rid of more puppy energy.
When class starts, that's when Theo's barking begins. I have to hold his leash tight because the sneaky devil will lunge forward at any moment when he decides he just has to be there on the course, showing them all how it's done. If I give him a constant stream of treats for an hour, he will be quiet, but since I won't give him that many treats, I have to endure a lot of very loud barking. It's ear-splitting, really. Sometimes I try and pick him up to make him stay quiet. Lately, he's start clawing at my neck like a cat when I do this. He stops barking, but starts whining, sounding like a piglet getting Chinese water torture. Usually people start looking at me funny, wondering what the heck I'm doing to him. It's embarrassing. Sometimes I just let him bark, and my trainer comments (and by comments, I mean she not-so-subtly tells me to shut my dog up).
When it's finally Theo's turn to run a course, I let him off leash. Usually he dashes to the course with enthusiasm, and runs over any obstacle he can find. After a good minute of calling him to our starting point, he finally mossies over. It takes another minute at least to get him to actually sit down (asking him to sit usually results in him backing up 3 feet with lots of barking in between), and another minute to get to my starting spot while getting him to stay seated. Oh, by the way, usually the other people have completed running the entire course in this amount of time. When I'm in the right spot, I tell him to go over the first obstacle. Sometimes he decides to just go around the obstacle, the little bastard. When that happens, we have to spend another 3 minutes getting back into position. When he misses his contacts, I make him go back and do it again. Usually after 3 or 4 tries, I just pretend he hit them. He's so fast, that he's usually gone 3 obstacles ahead while I'm still telling him to go over the first one. He's great at keeping an eye on me, but he doesn't do so well with the listening.
Did I mention the barking? He barks the whole time he runs a course. It's because he's excited. He wants to let everyone know how awesome and excited he is. Too bad he's usually too busy barking to listen to me. Our exchange usually goes something like this: Me, pointing to jump, "Theo, jump!" Theo, standing in front of jump, looking at me, "bark! bark! bark!" Me, pointing to the jump, "Theo, JUMP!" Theo, after he's gone around the jump, then jumped over it backwards, "bark! bark! bark!" If it weren't so frustrating, it would be, without a doubt, absolutely hilarious. Usually while there's steam coming out of my ears, the entire class is in stitches. It almost seems like an old-style comedy routine.
I could live with the humiliation except apparently Theo is a little too excitable. My trainer told me the last class of the last session that Theo was launching himself into the A-frame too hard, and she was afraid he was going to hurt his shoulders. He's such a boy! She actually suggested we go back to beginning agility to work on his contacts. Beginning agility! After 3 classes of advanced! Heck no! Beginning agility was boring even when we were beginners! I'm sure we could have worked something else out, but I was down-right insulted at the suggestion.
I was so frustrated after that class that I was ready to give up agility all together. But then I remembered how much Theo loves it. He's only that big of a pain because he has so much fun, he just can't contain himself. He is a Corgi after all. They do all things all out, right? And then the woman who runs the doggy daycare (who also helps teach the agility class) told me very emphatically that Theo is an agility prodigy. He is really good at it and he loves it. He has no fear on any of the obstacles, and he's faster than the wind. If he could just focus (I took this to mean if he had a better handler), he could be really great. How could I cut him off after that? I can't. And I won't.
But that said, I do still need a break. In another 7-8 weeks, another class will start up. I think I've convinced Husband to start coming with me to class. I'm hoping he'll give handling a try. Husband has 10 times my patience, and he's wicked smart, so I'm convinced he could be a really good handler for Theo. And if not, maybe he can at least help me with keeping Theo quiet!
The woman who runs the doggy daycare also suggested I put agility equipment in the backyard for Theo to play around on. Her reasoning was that he'll be less psychotic in class if he can play on similar equipment at home. Two problems with that: first, money does not grow out of my bum, and second, my backyard is made of concrete. Otherwise, it's a great idea. Anyone want to buy me agility equipment? Ho-hum.