Chapter 39 
(June 2011):

Diarmuid loses face - and finds it again

Diarmuid was supposed to do all the steps of his career at the minimum age according to Hoyle, i.e. according to the rules of the German kennel club, and our canine educational institution made sure that everything fit his birthdate: basic obedience, BH exam, intro to agility, all on schedule.  However, Diarmuid being a male adolescent terrier, the timing was wrong. He just wasn’t ready for agility at age 15 months; he is an Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terror and not a Border Collie, Sheltie or German Shepherd. “Wheatens don’t have a brain until they’re three years old,” an American breeder tells her litter’s new owners.

Mummy went for it, of course, and immature Diarmuid barely scraped through the introductory agility course. The last week of the course he showed the willingness to do a complete parcours and was allowed to move into a training group with his Perfect Sheltie partner from the Begleithundepruefung. All the others were dismissed, wow! Once in a training group, Diarmuid was gently introduced to the teeter-totter. Whoa! It tipped!!!  From that moment on, he refused more and more, driving Mummy to distraction, until he was not cooperating on anything. The other humans looked at her with an expression of pity; the other dogs looked at Diarmuid with disdain. Mummy was actually glad when the season was over as winter fell upon us. We were back to the hula hoop, tunnel, jumps and the flat/raised teeter board in the backyard as well as hoop in the house before every meal. Aunt Silvia brought us a bag of frozen tripe. That was the magic wand!  Slimy and stinky, it transformed my little brother into an agility dog. Liver, liverwurst and hot dogs had not overcome Diarmuid’s resistance. Chopped tripe did the trick. Come spring, Mummy registered Diarmuid for the introductory course again, hoping they would let him repeat. They did, though with little enthusiasm or faith in him. Mummy refused to give up on the twerp for 3 years, when he would have a brain and no excuse. First day of Agility 101, Take Two: Mummy thawed and chopped the aromatic tripe and put it in a plastic bag inside a Ziploc bag. Diarmuid did everything perfectly and without hesitation: A-frame, jump, tunnel, tire, table, dog walk and a preparatory exercise for the weave poles. Hello? Having a good day? Second day: Diarmuid did everything perfectly. And so on. The border collies are off running, “catch me if you can”, not waiting at the start and refusing obstacles. Not Diarmuid! He’s a Perfect Wheaten. Mummy thinks she’s gone to Heaven. Now she can hold her head up when she takes Diarmuid onto the training field.

Maybe I should have a talk with the kid about how Wheatens aren’t supposed to be Perfect. Don’t wait at the start; Gráinne didn’t. Run around the field and embarrass Mummy. Gráinne did. On the other hand, both judges and competitors stopped us at trials to tell us how impressive our teamwork was after I quit being a brat.

Meanwhile,we’re both doing Rally-Obedience. Daddy thinks it’s boring, but I am quite enthusiastic about it; it’s just right for my 11-year-old bones and joints. Diarmuid has learned to love it, too. The last week of every month all 16 of us in the three training groups do a trial run, the points being added up at the end of each season to see whom the club’s cup is passed on to. First season, Mummy and I won it! Blow our minds! We were never better than 2nd, but the first place was always last the next time! Steady perseverance pays off! Second season we missed a trial for a very important family event, so lost that day’s points and any chance at the cup. Third season Mummy and I made 2ndplace, with Diarmuid 4th. Perfect Sheltie, Wheaten, Perfect Sheltie, Wheaten. Now… (drum roll) in April we  had the first run of the Summer 2011 Season. When the results came in, Mummy couldn’t believe her eyes: Gráinne in 1st place and Diarmuid in 2nd !  My little bratty brother 2nd place behind only me? Passing up the coach with her Border Collie and both Perfect Shelties?????   Mummy’s riding proud this month -  until the next trial.




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