Getting Back in the Agility Saddle Again!

by Melissa R. on June 15, 2011


Mocca at agility practice

Mocca at agility practice

Well, after an unintentional nearly yearlong break from agility competitions, my dog, Mocca, and I will be back at it in a few weeks! Our last competition was *gasp* LAST AUGUST! Unfortunately, life just got in the way… then winter arrived and I decided not to risk losing my $60 each month due to potential snow storms. Then in March, Mocca had her surgery and was out for awhile. And now finally agility classes have started again and we’ve got a few weeks under our belts!

I was really VERY impressed with Mocca (and myself) when we started up classes again a few weeks ago. I was convinced she would have forgotten everything, or I would have. I thought that maybe her surgery left some lingering issues (it didn’t). And then last, I was worried about her age and arthritis (she’ll be 12 in October). However, none of these things was an issue and Mocca was out there running like a 6-year-old dog! In fact, she was probably more excited to be back than some of the other dogs and let us know it with incessant “roo-roo’ing” from her. She’s quite the comic!

We have been working hard the past couple weeks on hitting our contacts – I’m making her “SLOW” and then “WAIT!” at the contact area so she STOPS completely and we are assured of a good contact. I hope this helps us in our next competition, as Mocca tends to do a running contact, so at least this way we might have less chance of missing it.

We were a little rusty in our weaves, but we are working on those at home now as well. I’d like to see her get faster at them, but as this is her least-favorite obstacle, I think we may be safer just keeping it slow & steady.

Most of all we are working on ME. I was definitely rusty with my commands and course learning, but am getting ahead of the curve again now and feeling much better and more confident. It is funny how I recall I used to DREAD those course maps, and I would get so nervous about learning the course. Now, I learn them so quick I can hardly even believe it! It’s all about figuring out what signals and what side I should be on now, instead of worrying about the course.

Stay tuned for the results of our next agility competition!


About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rosemary June 15, 2011 at 10:42 am

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Glad Mocca’s back in form. Lucky seems to be over his pancreatitis, and is back to his old self. I am hoping to get his PAL application off next week. He starts an intermediate obedience class in July, with CGC testing as graduation. Then, I plan on going for Beginner Novice obedience and Rally Novice titles for him. Like Mocca, he is 11 (birthday was in May), but generally acts younger, despite a bad hip.

Ilka has her RN, and just needs the last leg of her BN. I can keep showing her in Rally Novice B until she qualifies in Advanced, but after she gets her BN, we have to move up to either Pre-Novice (a non-title class) or regular Novice (CD) in obedience. I might try a few Rally Advanced clases, just to see what she will do off-lead. I am going for her last BN leg at the Houston Kennel Club show in July (yes, the one they show on Animal Planet’s Eukanuba Cup series). That will be our largest show to date, and I am hoping to meet some other mixed breed owners there. So far, Ilka has been the only mixed breed at every trial we’ve attended. Then, we will take a break until October, when I plan on showing both dogs at a cluster of trials in Louisiana.

I did see that there is now a second mixed breed dog with a Utility Dog title. The first UD dog also has an Obedience Master title, and is working toward Utility Dog Excellent. There are also some MACH and Rally Excellent mixed breeds, an a couple with the new Coursing Ability title. So, there is hope for Ilka and me after all. It just might take us a bit longer (mixed breeds have only been competing since May of 2010) than others.

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