a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Class for Zorro

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Class for Zorro

SUMMARY: Foundations for Agility, mixed results

(The shadows--see what I did there?)

Three or four months ago, I signed up me and Zorro for a Foundations (of agility) class in Morgan Hill with instructors whom I know pretty well, but this is the first time I've taken classes from her/them.

First, let me say that the primary and backup instructors are wonderful. Their instructions are clear, their demo dogs are useful in demoing what they are trying to convey, they work their way through all of the basics in a careful, methodical, rational way so that in theory the handlers and dogs come away with the best possible foundation for becoming agility stars or at least fun companions.

I say theoretically because I'm a lazy, slovenly, excuse-ridden participant. More in a bit.

Second, let me say that the class is intended for (older) puppies. Zorro was 2 when we started, although I sure have seen a lot of puppy in him. Some of the students have never done agility or similar basic obedience training. Some students have trained and run multiple agility champions. So it's a mixed class of people, but the instructors are careful to make sure that the *dog* gets the information that he needs, and to remind us that every dog is starting from scratch even if we think that we know what we're doing.

Which is lovely for Zorro; just being there, in fact, is wonderful training for him as he learns to be around other dogs and to pay attention to me in an environment that's interesting in every direction. We've seen a lot of improvement in him in these 3-ish months.

In short, it's a great class and I feel privileged to be part of it.
Chip comes along for the ride and gets to get out for a while before class (if I'm early enough) and after class to practice some of the things that I practiced with Zorro in class.  Apparently the field is plenty interesting.

However, for me, here are the things:

  • I really wanted a Saturday morning class because weeknight evenings can be frantic after work, with traffic and stress and all, and so much else goes on on weeknights. However, this class starts at 8:00 a.m., sharp, and it's 30 minutes from here. Sooooo I'm getting up at 6:45 to the alarm, with barely enough time to dress myself, collect my stuff and my dogs, and be on my way.

    BUT: I had grown to despise getting up early to the alarm for dog agility after 18 years of it, and now I find that I still resent it deeply despite a long break from agility.  It was my choice to sign up, but, ugh, dragging myself out of bed, bleah.  Affects me more perhaps because I've not been sleeping well.  (That's a different story.)

    Also, if I've had a rough week physically and am particularly painful Friday night, I'm just not going to get up and go. Also, if I've had a very bad night and am awake until 4 in the morning, I'm just not going to get up and go.  Also, well, hmm, surprise, there are other things that happen on Saturdays sometimes that I really want to do but can't if I don't get home until 10 a.m. So maybe Saturdays and/or 8 a.m. are not good for me personally.

    I realize that I am WAY WAY WAY over the excitement of being out and about before most of the rest of humanity, on the road, in the early light--at least, for dog-related things.  The other day, I did it (up at same time on Saturday, drive 30 minutes) for something new and different, and it felt so much better.
  • I had been neglecting my dogs' trainings. Chip has been here over 2 years, Zorro over a year, and other than shaking hands and doing nose touches to my hand, they barely know more than when I brought them home.  But it was tough to do much with them, because my damaged bodily parts start hurting so quickly. At least, I think that was my excuse. I dunno, I would get excited for a day or 2 and then back to, eh, whatever.  SOOOOO I thought that going to class would be perfect for me. I've always been a bit competitive (duh) and I've liked being able to go to classes having done the homework and maybe more, over all these years.

    BUT: Turns out that it hasn't motivated me much at all, telling my that my reluctance is pretty deep (already knew, but just thought this would help). I think that some of it is how much I still miss my Merle Girls themselves and also all that they could do.  Maybe something else in addition to the physical aspect, but dunno what. Dunno. Dunno. I come home from class feeling excited and energized, but within a few hours, it's gone.  I occasionally practice some things.  Some things more than others.  But very little of any of it, in truth.  Zorro's amazing improvements in class have more to do with what I said earlier, him just learning to be in that environment and how to pay attention to me.

I haven't decided whether to drop the class.  I feel in some ways that it's my only chance to drag me out of my doggie doldrums and my training truancy.  Still, now I'm starting to feel that I'm behind so many other people with their little tiny cute puppies who now already do more than both of my dogs put together.

Well, OK, maybe not that much or for everyone, but some people, you know who they are, the people who go home and do their homework and also have experience training their previous dogs.

Instead of going home and blogging. Reading facebook. Editing photos.  Napping.

Mine are such smart, active boys, though, and deserve and need more intellectually and physically than I'm giving them.  So I can feel badly about it and still not get up and do anything about it.  Tsk.  Humans.  Yet I'm paying for a class that I'm attending barely more than half the time.  (That wouldn't have happened in the olden days, either.)

This isn't even what I was going to blog about.  So that will come in a separate post.
Well, OK, some improvement: A year ago I wouldn't have been able to get this photo at the park at all.  This time I barely got it; every time I moved away to set my camera, Chip sat up. And then start to move. And so then Luke would move. BUT I did get this, and they didn't run off while I wasn't holding their leashes here, and that's an improvement.


  1. Well, if it makes you feel any better I was up at 5 something this morning to go swim for an hour in 66 degree water at 6:20. And have been doing it twice a week all summer. Though the water did get up to 74 degrees a few weeks ago. Sky was beautiful this morning though, can't beat watching the sunrise from the middle of a lake.

    1. Heh. Well, you are crazier than I will *ever* be! 18 years of agility, say I averaged 18 weekends a year, saturdays would be get up at 4 a.m. and drive 2 hours to wherever agility was. Indeed, the only real benefit to that was seeing the sky change from a pale glow on the horizon to golden dawn to sunrise coming up over the mountains or across the valleys. Sundays and Mondays I'd usually then have stayed overnight, so get up merely at 6. After putting about 10 miles worth of steps on my pedometer each day. Didn't mind the exercise. Didn't mind the sunrises. But, oh, jeez, so hated being woken from sleep. (I haven't used an alarm clock regularly in very, very many years.) But, yep, never found myself in a freezing lake, thank dog! You are the champion.

  2. I had a few 4:00-ish mornings this summer to drive 2 hours to go to races as well but somehow it's less worth it for agility, maybe because runs are so short and you're there all day. I started entering only one day or only half days and skipping the first class for those further away trials. Love my time in the ring but hate all the waiting around and driving for a total of a couple few minutes.