Monday, November 15, 2010

We had a great day at Canine Affair Center's Open House!

Today was the first Open House at Canine Affair Center in Chesterland, OH! We were there from 9:30 until 5:00 and the time just flew by! There were agility, rally, obedience and freestyle demonstrations and then dogs and handlers had the opportunity to try some of the agility  equipment and a Novice rally course. I had a table where I laid out information on service dogs, Lake Erie Assistance Dogs, my Introduction to Service Dogs class and the Introduction to Training Levels classes. Besides hanging out by my table and talking to people, Laurel and I got to participate in the agility and rally demos. I knew it could be a disaster since prior to today, she had done agility twice since being off for 5 months & recovering from her foot injury. Overall, I thought she did very well - she got the entry into the weave poles and she confidently did the lowered teeter totter! It was a fun course and Laurel rose to the challenges beautifully! 
The rally course was a simple AKC Novice one. Laurel did it well and seemed even happier to be working than usual! I was more relaxed than usual when doing AKC rally which I'm guessing made all the difference! 
I took Hardy in wearing his vest. I believe one mistake I made with Laurel was not taking her to "dog" places (training halls, dog shows & trials etc) wearing her vest or harness. When she was older and I needed to take her to to dog events as my service dog, she found it very confusing and I'm sure she felt frustrated and conflicted. As a result, we had to work very hard to help her understand that even though we were at a dog-related thing, if she was dressed, she was working. It's fine now but I want to make it easier for Hardy so I'll be remembering to have him wear his vest at the training hall for special events, as well as at dog shows and trials. 
Hardy & I try rally
During the first "try it" session, Hardy and I decided to try rally. Generally, he did a super job - although he did keep turning to face me before sitting next to me. Based on threads on this topic on the assistance dog Yahoo list, this is a very common problem when teaching a puppy or dog to walk with a power chair. We'll continue using walls and gating to keep him from being able to swing his butt away from the chair.
Our agility foundations instructor, Ana, asked if Hardy could participate in the afternoon agility demonstration using a scaled down course of 9 obstacles. Because he is only 7 months old and hence, too young to really jump, each one was 4 " high. He has really gotten the idea of doing a "course" and galloped between obstacle. He did the jumps willingly and made the entry to the tunnel, even though it was right next to the A-Frame. He stopped at the A-Frame and then Ana & I realized that he had never done it full-height before. We lowered it and he did it beautifully! I've heard trainers & competitors say that agility isn't won or lost with the dog's performance at the obstacles but rather based on what goes on between each. And I'm so proud of my little guy - at 7 months, he worked beautifully off-lead and was able to work the various combinations in order to  successfully complete the little course. He had a wonderful time, especially since he got lots of turkey at different points in the course!
Now, he is sleeping and snoring his way through the evening!

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