Chapter 26

Agility is Fun
(Cover Girl)

Mummy slices hot dogs, gets out her soccer shoes and ties my fall up on my forehead like a unicorn. That means we have agility today! Sometimes she hurries me home from our walk by reminding me, “Agility, Gráinne" if I’ve been dawdling. That makes me put on the steam.

We’ve been practicing for three years now: spring, summer, fall outdoors at the dog club whether it’s raining Maine Coons and Great Danes or hot as Hades; winters in an unheated but dry riding hall. About 1 ½ years ago Coach Ela started squinting and frowning at me. She sent Mummy and me to the vet’s to have me checked for bone deterioration but Uncle Doc X-rayed me from nose to tail and pronounced me fit to jump and climb to my heart’s desire.

The stutter jump turned out to be another Wheaten trait. Ela finally decided to put me in the senior citizens group because I would be eligible to compete as a senior in less than a year anyway and it would be better for my joints, since Wheatens jump so steeply (See Wheaten Greetin’). Mummy says she’s a senior, why shouldn’t I be? Seniors is a great group of pups and people and the atmosphere is relaxed, although the level of the courses is A2. Fine with me; I can do anything. But Mummy’s brain struggled for quite a while, planning where, when and how on these more difficult courses.

Hurdles and the long jump are great. I sail over them without any instructions. I’ve never once stooped to going under or around one. I know how to do the wave and the cross. Mummy sends me ahead over the last hurdle on command: “Go!” because I’m faster than she is.

At our first official trials, near the Dutch border, we were photographed coming over the finishing hurdle, Mummy’s mouth forming the word “Go!” and my tootsies tucked up under my chin. Two weeks later at trials put on by our own club a participant from Rhede brought us a newspaper clipping with our photo in it! Within 24 hours Daddy had the original in color and two weeks later I was on the cover of the July issue of “Der Terrier”, the monthly magazine for our national Klub für Terrier. Now I’m a Princess and a Cover Girl! Brag, brag.

Tunnels are my favorites, no matter whether straight, curved or cloth chute. This is the ideal place for a round of hide-and-seek. First you have to train your human to define the entrance clearly if it’s U-shaped. Then it’s a race to see who gets to the exit first, Mummy or me. Once in a just-for-fun tournament I played a trick on Mummy. There she was at the exit, wondering why it was taking me so long, but I had gone back out the entrance and was merrily creating my own Jumpers course of hurdles and tunnels to the amusement of all. Even Mummy laughed!

The Dog Walk is fun because I’m higher than Mummy (which isn’t saying much!). I fell off it once and did a somersault. Mummy made me go right back over it as soon as she knew I wasn’t hurt. Now I take the dog walk at less of a breakneck speed.

Teeter-totter. I couldn’t make friends with this wobbly board at all. At our first trials in Rhede they had a metal one and when I went tearing over it to get it over with, the monster clanged loudly, scaring the bejeebies out of me. Next trials I refused to pass the pivot point and Mummy said there wasn’t much sense in driving for hours to go to trials if it was a pre-programmed dis(qualification) every time. So guess what I got for Christmas: my very own professional, custom-made aluminum teeter-totter to practice on every day, which Mummy could do with me while she was waiting for her broken leg to heal. Now I trot over it without blinking an eye.

A-frame: This is the one obstacle Mummy and I differ on. She expects me to zoom up one side and right down the other. Now I ask you: does that make sense? Would you climb the Eiffel Tower and race back down without taking a look around? So there I am at the top, checking out the scenery, eyeing the judge, looking for Daddy and making sure everybody is watching the Princess. Meanwhile Mummy is down at the bottom, promising me cookies, Surf ‘N Turf, anything, if I’ll just c’mon down. In our first trials this season those 6 seconds cost us 2nd place and the only trophy we ever really cared about winning. See the video of this run at You Tube.

Daddy is afraid Mummy’s going to want to buy an A-frame but our backyard is getting full. We’ll see what shenanigans I can think up for the next trials. Any suggestions?


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