Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ace's first agility class

Ace had his first agility class on Monday.
I was super excited.
I was sure it was gonna be great.
It wasn't.

Actually, it was pretty awful.

Knowing Ace's level of "hyper-ness", I decided he would have his normal exercise, plus a little extra for the day. I hoped this would tire him out and he would be calm for instruction.

I underestimated the amount of exercise he should have to keep him from getting over excited when he entered a huge pole barn full of dog agility obstacles, 6 other puppies (one who constantly barked the entire time), and fine grey sand-gravel loaded with doggie smells.

I'm pretty sure I could have ran him for 12 hours straight and he still would have acted the same. Which was like he had never been on a leash before and had never heard a command in his life.

He pulled me around the building to investigate everything, jumping and twisting when I tried to correct him.

He seemed to forget that I even existed. This from a dog who stares at me constantly and won't leave my side, ever.

The instructor could obviously see me struggling.
"Let him smell around" she said.

Like I had a choice.

There were so many things in that building, not only set up, but hundreds of things leaning against the walls, it would have taken Ace days to smell them all.

He kept lifting his leg to mark and I kept yanking his leash and saying "no". I was pretty sure that wasn't allowed.

The trainer finally called us all in.

There was a collection of chairs set up at one end and some of the other dog owners were sitting there with their puppies sitting or laying quietly at their feet.

There was no way Ace would do that. He was still jumping and spinning trying to get away. I ended up standing next to the training while she addressed the class.

She talked (what little I remember of it) about rules and such.
Then Ace took a big poo in front of the whole class. (yes, I did take him potty before!)

"Perfect timing for me to talk about puppy clean up" she said. I still felt like an idiot while everyone watched me try to open a poo bag, bend over to pick it up, all the while Ace jumped and twisted like a crazy animal.

Then we went around the room and did introductions.

That's when I noticed that Ace was by far the oldest puppy there. Most of the puppies were 12-15 weeks old. The closest to Ace was 6 months (he was the one sitting perfectly at his owners feet).

For a quick moment thought "Ace is too old for this class". I had emailed with the trainer back and forth. Telling her Ace's age and the classes he had attended. I would realize how stupid that thought was by end of the first instruction.

It was my turn to introduce Ace.
"This is Ace. He's one year old and he's a Border Collie." I said while Ace continued to flop around on his leash like a fish on a hook.

"And you got him from a rescue?" the trainer seemed to be leading me somewhere.

"No....from a breeder...." I said a little confused.

My mind immediately thought "it's the 'Chicago thing'-- like I see at all the dog parks. Everyone seems to get their dogs from a rescue." I'm feeling like I'm being judged again because I paid money for a full breed dog.

Until she asks "how many weeks have you had him?"

"Since he was six weeks old" I answer.

"Did you realize what you were getting into when you decided on that breed?" she asks.

"yes...." I'm really confused now.
She didn't ask all these questions to everyone else....

And it hits me like a tons of bricks.
She thinks because Ace is acting like insane-crazy-never-been-on-a-leash-absolutely-no-training-dog, I must have just got him.

Or that I'm an idiot.

I'm leaning toward the later.

"Do you provide a channel for all that energy?" She asks.

Now I'm a little offended.

"Yes, if you call an average of two hours a day of exercise at either the dog park, playing Frisbee, or walking a channel." I say.

I want to tell the class that most days people compliment me on how well Ace is trained.
That he knows sit, stay, heel, wait, leave it, go left, go right, to name a few.

That he will walk off leash around my neighborhood and I don't worry about him running into the road because he will do what I say...even if a bike or a bunny goes by.
That he knows the names of tons of toys.

That he can operate the electric windows in my car.

That he knows which way I'm going to throw the ball by just the turn of my shoulders or by a small point.

That he can perfectly time and catch a Frisbee flying at all speeds and angles (which is my excuse for continuing to throw a Frisbee like I've never seen one better training for Ace's catching skills).

But I don't say anything.

I'm sweating now, covered by doggie drool and a layer of that fine grey gravel dust.

And I notice that I am being attacked by mosquitoes.
There's probably only a dozen mosquitoes in this well kept barn but for some reason they always find me.

"Time for a potty break" the trainer announces.

Guess who won't go?

I'm pretty sure Ace is saving up.
He's already figured out what obstacles he plans on marking.

I'm losing patience at this point along with about a quart of blood to the mosquitoes.
"Go potty Ace!" I command.
He gives me that look.
You know the "make me" look.

And I would have if I didn't start worrying about my hemoglobin level.

Instead, I tell him "if you so much as lift a leg help me Ace!!"
And we head back inside.

The trainer tells us we will be watching a video on "crate games".
We are all supposed to sit in the chairs and watch the video.

Everyone settles in.
Except Ace.

He has decided he wants to play with the 6 month old super-well-behaved-I'm-perfect-puppy.

Ace crouches head down, rump up and gives him the Border Collie stare.


The puppy won't even acknowledge Ace.

Ace wags his tail a little and gives a playful little yip.

The puppy eyes are on his owner, sitting perfectly waiting for the next command.

Ace tries again this time he moves a little forward and puts a paw on the puppy's hind leg.

This time he gets a response.

Only it's not from the puppy, it's the owner giving me a dirty look.

I resist the urge to stick my tongue out at her.

Mostly because Ace has decided to find other well behaved dogs to bother.

Needless to say, I have no idea what the video said.

We were directed over to our crates. The only time we use our crate at home is for when we leave Ace. He will go in his crate occasionally to take a nap on his own or to stow a toy. And just in the past couple weeks we have been leaving him out of the crate when we go somewhere.

The trainer tells us to put our dogs in their crates.

Ace immediately sits and refuses to budge. Nothing I can do will get him in there. He won't follow a treat in there. Not even his Frisbee.

I'm at the end of the line of crates and by the time the trainer gets to me all the other puppies are going in and out of their crates and playing their "crate games".

Ace has his heels dug in.

The trainer tries all the things that I have already tried. She then tells me to pick him up and put him in.

Imagine trying to put a cat in a bucket of water. Ace wiggled and arched his back. He flailed all four legs out. After a couple of failed attempts of trying to shove an insane shaped dog into a well behaved shaped dog sized hole, the trainer says "stop".

"What have you done to him? Have you been using his crate as punishment?" she says in an accusing tone.

"No! Never! The only time we use it is for when we leave him. He probably thinks I'm going to leave him here!" I say while wiping the grey muddy sweat off my face.

"Well, I've never seen a dog so upset!" she says in her I-don't-believe-you tone. "You'll have to work on this at home!"

Yeah sure. whatever.

We did a few more "exercises" that all made me look equally as horrible as a negligent dog owner.

I went home exhausted, dirty and defeated.

My only hope is that next week Ace adjusts to all the stimuli and "wow's" them all.

But I won't be holding my breath.


Brian Miller said...

oh my...i hope you got pampered at home...

Jan Prewitt said...

C.S. Lewis said of his childhood dog, "X[name of dog] was never obedient, he just sometimes agreed with us." My Murphy, also a Border, is the same way. I think the breed, while easily trained because of the great intelligence, nevertheless is used to leading rather than following.


that sounds horrific. i am so sorry. i have a lead that goes around the nose so my 85 lb lab CAN'T go crazy on me. but don't give up. you know you. screw those idiots.

McGillicutty said...

She sounds so rude...i would let him hump her leg next week.. or find another trainer!!!! Good luck !!!!

Pam said...

I know this wasn't funny, but I was laughing out loud. You poor thing! I can not believe you are going to go back for more torture next week. I would have left after the poop incident. Have you read Marley and Me? You should. I think Ace could give Marley a run for his money.

From Tracie said...

You are a better woman than me....I know this because you didn't punch anyone there, and you are even going to go back!

In seriousness, hopefully next time Ace will wow them.

Travis said...

I've never throat chopped a dog, so I don't really know if it works. But you might have to try it.

On the real, this post made me feel wicked sorry for you! Trainer sounds like a douchecanoe. Maybe try throat chopping them instead?

Baino said...

Aww poor thing. How horrible of her to judge you it's supposed to be obedience training isn't it . . as in a learning curve, not some showring for perfectly behaved pooches. Ace has buckets of personality and that's a good thing. The trainer sounds like a biotch. I had a friend who used to show dalmations and was absolutely horrified to find that some owners drugged their puppies to keep them calm . . perhaps the'd all had a beer or two before class