Spring agility workshops

Yesterday was an invigorating experience – our first workshop of spring – with new students joining our beginner workshops and a great bunch of returning intermediate and advanced dogs.

After the workshops we decided to plan on dinner and a movie in Marietta before we could sit down and become planted for the evening. Just as I sat down at my desk the phone rang and it was a lady wanting to know about rally lessons. She used to train with a friend of ours, Julie Hosley, who passed away this past winter from heart disease. I wasn’t aware of Julie’s passing, so that was a bit of a shock. She couldn’t have been much older than me. Also, Julie was a tremendous asset to the dog rescue and dog training community.  She trained with positive reinforcement, showed folks how to get started with clicker training, rescued and fostered dogs, and generally worked her butt off to make sure dogs were living peacefully inside people’s homes. She will be missed, that’s for sure.

I’m going to have a private lesson with Julie’s student this Saturday, and I hope I don’t disappoint her. She’s got her novice rally title and entered a trial in April — we’re going to focus on off-lead work, heeling and attention work while distracted, and she’ll go away with several weeks’ worth of homework.

When we first moved here I spent a great deal of time setting up basic obedience classes, reformatting my lesson plans to create a module approach to obedience exercises, and talking with local dog folks regarding obedience training. I’ve discovered that it takes more time and effort to set up a weekly class, getting 3-5 people interested in attending, than it takes to teach said class. So now I’m doing private lessons for obedience. Luckily, with our private lesson sale still in full swing, they’re very affordable.

Bud asked yesterday if I’ve given up on having rally obedience on those select Sundays when we have agility workshops in the afternoon. Last year rally took place each of those Sunday mornings. I think we’ll keep our emphasis on agility and see what happens with rally at Country Dream.

Our first camp starts in about 5 weeks. We’ve decided to offer little mini-workshops during campers’ lunch break. Subjects include:  1) intro to tracking,  2) intro to rally,  3) obedience for agility,  4) building motivation and speed,  5) problem-solving for barking and biting during agility, etc.  I’m going to make a complete list of these little workshops and anyone wanting to attend may “vote” for the workshops they want. I’m going to charge $5 per dog for the workshops, with funds being added to the Country Dream beautification fund.

This morning I heard from a man who met me 12 years ago, when we both had young Imagineer (breeder Gemi Sasson-Brickson), red merle, australian shepherds. His Merlin was 2 years old and my Banner was 1 year old. We sat both dogs down, side-by-side, and laughed that they looked like scoops of vanilla ice cream — his had hot fudge sauce melting down it and mine had caramel sauce. Both dogs have the same parents, just born one year apart.

My Banner is 13 now, is looking old, and is dismaying me with her diminished senses and her racing aging process. She’s the only puppy I’ve ever purchased and raised (all others being rescues at 5 months to 3 years of age). When she goes it’s not going to be peaceful here at our house. My heart’s going to be broken and no amount of steeling myself against it is going to change that. I watch her constantly, trying to prepare myself for her passing, yet I’m fully aware that a huge crater is going to form in my heart.

So it was with a tremendously heavy heart that I heard of the passing of Merlin just a month ago. He developed a bump on his head which they thought was an absessed tooth, and which turned out to be cancer.

I’ve gotten away from purebred dogs, from my beloved red aussies, for several reasons. But hearing of Merlin’s passing, and that these folks have a new aussie puppy needing trained, made me want to get a little fur-ball of my own. The idea being that I would get so involved with the puppy that somehow Banner’s passing wouldn’t affect me as much. In my heart I know I can’t ever replace her. It’s useless to consider adding another dog to this pack-of-9 just to take my mind off that looming loss.

This is the first year I’ve felt so hard-hit by the time change. Yesterday morning, before our workshops, I REALLY could have used that additional hour we lost.  Last evening at the movie, I drank a cola with caffeine, so I was up until after 2:00 a.m.  Then up early this morning for water aerobics and now I’m just exhausted and drowsy.

One of the weird things about blogging is that this truly IS my journal, yet I’m constantly made aware that others are reading and finding my ramblings interesting or amusing. I’ll not apologize, today, for being a little sad and tired.

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One Response to “Spring agility workshops”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Oh Marsha, you do not have to apologize for you’re impending sense of loss of Banner. A lot of us understand. My Mollie was my heart dog, she came to me at about 1 year old in the midst of a tumultous time in my life. My beloved aunt died, our dog (the last piece of her I had left) was killed by coyotes in front of me, my home as flooded and I had just lost my job. Mollie I found at the Tacoma Shelter when I went to pick up Maggie’s ashes. She had been adopted and returned 3 times because she had seizures. I adopted her 3 days later. I was constanly bawling over losing Maggie. Mollie would lie on my chest with her head on my right shoulder and she would become soaked with my tears. I would tell her how I would never love her like I did Maggie. She licked me gently and would get on the floor and play and try to engage me She made me laugh. In short time she became my reason to keep going. We were inseparable. I loved her so much. I started agility with her and she was a natural, she loved it. She was my first agility dog. I could hardly keep up with her, she took to it like a duck to water. Her seizures decreased in frequency and intensity. We went to a raw food diet and they all but dissappeared. I was elated. Even after I adopted Charlie, it was Mollie who was the wind beneath my wings. I became interested in TDAA for Mollie; she was a dwarf, only 7 1/2″ tall at the withers, her humerus was only about 2 inches long. Yet she was fast and jumped 8″ in USDAA, NADAC,AKC. She was almost 12 when we went to the 2006 Petit pRix in IL. Her picture was on the front page of the paper, flying through the tire. I had the best run I have ever had with her on the Sat standard course. We just ran so effortlessly and in complet synch. I omitted a jump so it was nonqualifying but oh I had such a high! I was concerned about how long I would have her as she had just the beginnings of congestive heart failure. I was going to only run her once or twice a day after the PP. As it turned out the PP was her last agility trial. One morning before I went to work early in December 2006 she began to have blood ocme out of her nose then all of a sudden from her mouth; I rushed her to the emergency vet, but she died in my arms as we pulled into the parking lot. I was devastated. I could not believe she was gone. I have cried about her nearly every day since. Presley and Elvis are much loved, but Mollie is the one. The one I cannot ever get over.
    So I know exactly how you feel and the hurt you expect when Banner goes. Al I can say is write about her, it helps.


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