Obedience Olympics

It’s all in the quality of the  bones, not the ones that frame our bodies but the flavoured canine variety used as inducements; or as Ms Hi Vis likes to call it ‘positive reinforcement’.

Saturday saw the culmination of the fist phase of puppy training with a Gala event, organised by Commandant Hi Vis (the instructor, and wearer of luminous clothing); which, she assured us would be great fun…..or more accurately ‘You WILL enjoy it’………she is a master of the emphasised word is Ms Hi Vis, certainly gets your attention and you have to overcome the urge to SIT each time she barks in your general direction.

So with trepidation in my heart and a glint in Aggi’s eye we joined the other twenty or so ‘contestants’ from the puppy and advanced pup group in a fenced small paddock, which was festooned with colourful strange obstacles. I should say at this point that the little dogs seemed to all have entered into the spirit of the occasion and were literally straining at respective leashes to get going. It was just the humans in the field, who were showing signs of uncertainty as we climbed over each others frantic  fur balls and dodged tangles of excited affection.

LET THE GAMES COMMENCE..

I was just admiring the outlandish  ribbon and glitter handiwork on a nearby hoola hoop when I heard… “and Aggi will go first and show you how its done”…….how what’s done?….I wasn’t listening, what? what? But no time to consult with the tittering humans as to the Puppy Olympic rules, Ms Hi Vis had said COME, and off we trotted like a pre programmed Borg.

Faced with coloured poles, spaced in rows with hoola hoops  in between, intermittent small jumps and a large blue poly tunnel at the far end, Ms Hi Vis gave me an encouraging wink and told me just to go fast and ‘use the obedience signals’. Well I must have been off puppy school the day those formal signals were taught.  Aggi and I have morphed into our own version, that passes for “this is what I want you to do…pretty please with bells on top”. Not so much obedience as encouraging pleading; and if she is bored or in mischievous mood? I say black and she does white,I make the signal for DROP DOWN and she does a wee leap in the air; go left means shoot off to the right at speed, SHAKE  paw means lay on back and get belly scratched; you get the gist.

THE TUNNEL

The workout commenced at a slow trot, weaving through the poles by signalling Left so she would go right, dodging and jumping over Aggi as she attempted to jump through the hoola hoops (something she was quite good at, after I told her to lay down before the ring!), abandoning all hope of a ‘sit & stay’ on appointed plinth we reached the last part which was the tunnel. Ms Hi Vis came to help, as Aggi had never seen a blue corrugated plastic tube of this size before, let alone ran through one. Hi Vis held her as I went to the other end and encouraged with treats and praise.

Three times she ran around the outside and nabbed the treat from my hand (as if to say ‘don’t be daft, I can just come THIS way)…so on the final try I chucked some dry liver treats into the middle of tunnel and crawled part way in  from other side and she understood what was required………diving at me with such force I had to do a hasty reverse crawl, with a back-tuck roll. now you don’t see many of them at the Olympics!

Sadly, the dignity defying moment, when three-quarters of me was in the tunnel and the least flattering bit sticking out, was when Himself’ decided to appear on the sidelines with Henry as a spectator. I am sure Aggi found the laughter as distracting as I did, and no doubt this is why I slipped on a small poop on the home straight slid past final jump.

Following us was another  4 month old Lab called Bobby, who frankly was no competition as he has a ball fixation; his own, not the tennis variety and so stopped at every obstacle to have a good lick at himself. He was followed by a German Shepherd pup that missed every pole and did a clean jump on top of poly tunnel in spectacular fashion, shame that wasn’t one of the events really as he would have romped home. And so the afternoon progressed, with every pup excelling at its own (unspoken or scripted) event……from ‘lick to glitter off the hoola hoops’ through ‘chew the top off the jumps’ to make it easier for the next pup to ‘chase your tail in a circle till you through-up all the treats’.

FINALE

Just when we thought it was all over, Ms Hi Vis revealed the “hide & Seek” challenge. A tarpaulin had been strung from trees in the far corner of the field to make a ‘Hide”, behind which was an infants plastic chair for us to sit on. Object of the exercise was to hide from pup and for them to find you by sound and smell. Commandant Hi Vis took this very seriously, held the pup for us and even covered their eyes as we jogged off to hide behind tarp in our lowly position. Did she come find me?, did she heck-as-like! Was left hanging’ again…….only after she had mine swept the back half of the field for treats others may have dropped did she give my incessant yelling’s any attention. In the end, it took a slight bending of the rules by me jumping up and down behind the tarp to see over and the chucking of  treats to get me found.

Note to self: if you are lost in the woods and want a Labrador to find you, make sure you have pockets brimming with dried liver.

WINNERS ARE CHOMPERS

Aggi’s grand prize (for entertainment and enticing her owner into the tunnel) was a red biscuit bone , which she enjoyed for the three seconds it took to inhale, but we had a fun day and the memories will last a lot longer. Slightly mollified by the fact I was not the only owner that would have been left in the woods to find my own way home, the humans celebrated together with tepid tea and  stale buns ,  which had been  artfully arranged on the wobbly trellis table by our own Olympic volunteers [ the cheerful partners of the participants] . Cheerful because they had somehow avoided taking part. *Was mindful in each ridiculous moment and was reminded of the importance of taking part in new things. Also remembered that there are reasons I don’t do sport. (or tunnel crawling) Went home to a soak in the bath and a good lay down {both of us, although separately!}.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Obedience Olympics

  1. Oh I wish I was there with Betty and Milly. They would make Aggi look like she’d passed the Barbara Woodhouse training course with flying colours.

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