Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ranger is retiring from agility

Lately it seems that Ranger hasn't been enjoying his agility classes. He is slow, unresponsive to my commands, and just looks like there are other places he'd rather be. It's embarrassing to get up in front of the class and do as poorly as we do. I'm starting to think that maybe Ranger feels like he has proven he can do agility, and he doesn't need to prove anything anymore. He's wrong, of course, as he's not that good at agility and has plenty of room for improvement, but that's an argument I'm not winning right now. So I decided that Ranger is going to retire, and Teddy is going to start. At some point, Ranger may come out of retirement, but for now, he's done.

Because Teddy needs lots of time to learn something new, I decided to start working with him now at home, before classes start in January. I have a small tunnel, and I made some jumps out of PVC, and surprise, surprise, Teddy loves it. He learned to jump very quickly, and the joy on his face as he jumps is amazing to see. I didn't think he would like it, as he is built like a brick, and I thought he would jump as well as a tank, but he sails over the bar like he's been doing it all his life. Of course, once we leave the safety of my family room and get to class, he may pretend he's never seen a jump before in his life, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We survived Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been a large affair for my family - it is not uncommon to have anywhere from 18 to 33 people show up. Ranger, being the social butterfly he is, loves all the people and the food they give him, and all the new laps to sit on. Teddy, on the other hand, is scared of new people and large crowds. I debated for weeks before Thanksgiving on whether I should bring the dogs, leave them both at home, leave Teddy at home and just bring Ranger...But I hated to deprive Ranger of one of his favorite days because his less-secure brother couldn't handle it, and I thought Teddy would not like being left home alone for 8 hours, and would take his frustration out on my shoes, as he sometimes does.

In the end, I decided to bring both dogs and would just take Teddy home if it got to be too much for him. But once again, he surprised me. I arrived early to help my Mom get things going, and brought his favorite toys and treats to help him feel comfortable. Then people started to show up, and he was fine. He let people he knew pet him, and he stayed away from people he didn't know, but he didn't cower, or put his tail between his legs. He watched us all from a distance, sat under the dining tables to catch all the food that dropped (as all smart dogs know to do!) and after dinner, he even let some new people pet him. I had visions of him barking at everyone, and pacing around the house, as he has done in the past. But he did much better than I expected, and made me realize how far he has come in the past 11 months.

So I decided it is time to stop underestimating Teddy. For the past year, I've had no expectations of Teddy, and I just let him do whatever he felt comfortable with. But now I know he is capable of more than I thought, and I think it is time to start asking more things of him. Watch out Teddy - agility starts in January!