This past weekend, Gabe and I competed for the first time in agility. It was a milestone for us because it's something I have wanted to work towards for several years now. However, due to moving around a lot, not having money to pay for classes, and my own lack of confidence, it took us longer than it should have to accomplish this.
The trial we entered was a NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council) trial. They allow both mixed breeds and purebred dogs to compete (as does the American Kennel Club now), and we only entered two classes, since I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into exactly. I decided on two 'Touch-N-Go' events, which focused on contact obstacles. These courses mainly consisted of the A-frame, the Dogwalk, hoops, and tunnels.
I didn't set unrealistically high goals for Gabe and myself; mainly, my objective was just to get through each course, and hoped that he would do more than just sniff the ground or run out of the ring completely. I had no idea what he would think of the trial environment (a horse barn - are you kidding me?), equipment different than what he was accustomed to using, and of course an audience.
The things I learned that day were:
1. Everyone makes mistakes. Especially Novice handlers.
2. If I ever reach the higher competition level classes, I never want to become condescending or arrogant (like some of the elite handlers unfortunately were.)
3. Gabe really needs some sort of a warm up run, to get rid of the squirrely tendencies he has.
4. Laughing at Gabe and myself is helpful.
I will post the footage from both of our runs. Please watch both, as he improved greatly from the first run to the second! (It is ok if you laugh while watching, too - he is slightly over-enthusiastic and had the time of his life. It is what I adore about him. :))
More trials to come, hopefully!