Life Update: My Adorable Agility Dogs’ Progress

I’ve been finding it hard to blog lately. I’m not sure exactly what it is, because I always have a ton of ideas, fun stories, cute photos, tips, how-to posts and more in my head, but it always ends up being easier to post in the moment on social media, like Facebook or Instagram, insMaddux A Frame agility dogtead of sitting down a writing a full post. I don’t even tend to use Twitter as much as I did before.

A little over a year ago, I felt this was starting to be a trend, and I wanted to pitch a panel/talk titled, “Blogging Is Dead.” While I don’t think it’s totally dead, I do think other social media platforms are gaining more of our attention since as a whole our society’s attention spans are shrinking, while our desire for instant content is growing.

I digress, and if you want to hear more of my thoughts on that, you can connect with me on  LinkedIn or follow my professional website, where I will be writing about this at some point soon.

Okay – agility dogs!

You all know Maddux has been taking agility classes forever, and we have trailed only once, because I am still not confident enough with him. But, now, Bear is also taking classes. While we are still members of the Glens Falls Kennel Club and do drop-ins when we can, with working back in New Jersey again, we had to find a new place to train, which let me tell you – in central New Jersey, has been very difficult. We finally found a really good facility in Saddle Brook, which with traffic is about an hour away, and without, about a half hour. (It’s New Jersey, there is always traffic!)

Bear on the a Frame agility dog

Anyway, the facility, Keller’s Canine Academy, has some great trainers, who are also well-known agility competitors. Currently we are training with Deb Stevenson, who we have learned so much from. Both Maddux and Bear have come such a long way. Maddux is doing almost a half-course and Bear is going two or three sequences.

Prior to Deb, we were training with Jodi, who owns the facility. A natural teacher, she was able to help my handling skills, which I really struggle with. My brain tends to mix up front crosses, rear crosses, blinds, etc. I still can’t keep them straight, but I have a better idea as to what I should do when and the actual technique. But, I still have a really, really long way to go.

The trainers have told me Bear is making really great progress, and they believe that I’ll likely be able to trial regularly with Bear before Maddux. This makes me so sad, but I do get it. Maddux likes to run around and play on all the agility equipment. He doesn’t, however, enjoy listening and being told where, where and how to play on that agility equipment. His focus is still all over the place sometimes.  He is also still really afraid of the teeter and is not so happy with weaves.

Michelle  maskaly and Maddux agility training


On the other hand, Bear really enjoys being part of a team. He likes the obstacles and running around, but he is more focused on me and enjoys doing whatever he is being asked to do with me. Technically, he is also my second agility dog, and while I don’t know a lot since I haven’t been doing his for long, I know more than I did when I started with Maddux. With Maddux, there is a lot of correcting to do, with Bear, we started out a little better, because I had some sort knowledge of what I was doing instead of being completely new to the sport.

I need to gain more confidence in my handling, which I am working on. But, I still feel silly sometimes. I tend to compare my self and our progress with others, and then get down about it. I need to remind myself that every dog is different. They learn at a different pace and that this is the first time I am doing any of this. Before Maddux, I never even took a full obedience class. (Toby took two classes, and we dropped out) Also, I don’t have a lot of time or room to practice. Between living in upstate New York and working in New Jersey, and driving back and forth so much, it’s really tough to carve out time and space. But, that’s a story for another time.

Above all else, the number one thing I have to to remember is: Have fun! Trailing and getting a sequence right is important, but the bond that is created between me and my dogs while doing agility is the real reason to keep doing it. We are learning to work as a team and as long as we are all still having fun, we will continue to do it.

Do you do agility? I would love to hear about your experience, your dogs and how you train. Share in the comments below.

Michelle Maskaly Agility training with bear


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