A Spaniel's Agility Journey...(1)
Let me start by introducing you to 16 month old, working cocker spaniel, Bracken. Bracken came to live with my dog Ruby and I about 5 weeks ago weighing 14.6kg (this explains the "Podge"). Bracken had previously lived in 2 other homes, both of which hadn't quite realised what life with a cocker spaniel puppy would entail, so through luck, friendship, fate or something else entirely, she found her way to me. Knowing Bracken's breeding very well, it was obvious she would be a bright little dog and so it was decided she would have some agility training.
Now I'm pretty new to agility myself having only started out with Ruby about 6 months ago and she and Bracken could not be more different! Anyone who's ever been in a class with Ruby will know she is loud, fearless, fast, manic and not interested in anything other than the obstacles. Rebecca described agility as Ruby's crack cocaine! Bracken on the other hand...well she's been on a diet for the last 5 weeks, so the chicken I'd brought as a reward was far more exciting than a couple of wings with a pole between them.
Last night was Bracken's first proper class, having only done a few jumps before and overall I feel we got off to a good start. We took our turn and I encouraged Bracken to give the first 6 jumps a go. With chicken as a reward she soon got the hang of this! This was followed, on our next go with some shaping in the tunnel. Bracken had seen a tunnel a couple of times before, but hadn't been a big fan (unlike Ruby who has been known, on more than one occasion, to slip her lead and bolt across the arena and into the tunnel with another dog!) Chicken in a clam was enough to tempt Bracken to give the tunnel another go though and before the end of the class we were linking the tunnel with 3 jumps.
Short, successful sequences held Bracken's attention throughout the class (or maybe it was the chicken?!) and we left happy and eager to practice some bits of shaping before our next session. Running two very different dogs is going to be a huge learning curve for me, but I hope it will make me a better handler and allow both of my dogs to progress and enjoy the sport. I'll be blogging about Bracken's classes and updating you all (I say "all" as if loads of people are going to eagerly await my posts) on her progress from "Podge to [hopefully] Pro" over the coming weeks and months.