At the Fair: Attempting the Agility Course

A few weeks ago, my Papillon Riyo and I ran our first agility course in front of a small audience, and the way I performed is a perfect example of why I titled this blog “an idiot’s guide.”  My dogs are the geniuses, while I, on the other hand, often look like an idiot.

If you aren’t familiar with the Agility sport, the basic idea is that you and your dog work as a team to navigate through a course of obstacles.  In this case, a course of 18 obstacles (or was it 20?) clearly numbered with bright orange cones place next to each one.  As you move through the course, your dog follows your body language and words to know which obstacle to tackle next.

My little Papillon Riyo is so smart he makes me look like I am much more competent than I am.  He is so intensely focused on me that he responds to every move I make.  ALL I have to do is count to 18 and point at the right obstacle.  (except the weave poles, “we” (I) haven’t quite figured those out yet).  In my defense, following the course IS a little harder than it looks.

Papillon doing Agility
Riyo and me at the last jump!

Starting with obstacle No. 1, we’re off.  We get through the first 4 or 5 ok.  “Jump!” “Tunnel!”…not bad.  Then, either on 6 or 7, I hit my first hiccup.  Where is seven?  I have to clumsily stop and whirl around to figure out where to go next.  Now I’m getting more nervous and instead of saying “Jump!” I find myself counting out loud.  “Ummm….eight! Ummmm NINE!”  Ugh, NO!  I sound like an idiot!  “Jump!”  “Ummm… 11!”  Oh, this is not so good.

Despite my fumbling, Riyo is catching my drift and doing his best to figure out my clumsy and completely un-fluid progress through this course.   But, we’re still going, “Thirteen!”  I yell out, still counting out loud (oh my poor dog) — Then, as if my GPS suddenly lost power, I look around and cannot for the life of me find 14.  I’m spinning around, flustered, looking for 14 until finally the other club members have mercy on me and point at the elusive 14 and yell “tunnel!” at me.

Flustered and rather embarrassed, I look down at my little dog, and there he is still looking at me like I am the smartest, most amazing person on the planet.  He’s just waiting for me to tell him which way we’re going next!  Truly, no matter how idiotic or incompetent I am, my dog still looks at me like I am descended from Einstein.  The other thing I noticed was that he didn’t care how incompetent I was.  He was SMILING!  He was having a blast, just bouncing around and doggie laughing!

You know, he was right!  Who cares!  This IS fun!  And with that  bit of silent wisdom from my little buddy, I stopped feeling embarrassed and nervous and we finished the course.  Next time, I’ll remember that doggie lesson and just have fun!  Can’t wait to try again!

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