The Dog in the Arena?

Dear Readers,

Tongue-Out Tuesday Photo by Trainer, Gigi

Momma and I continue to train at Ruffgers Dog University in Naples. Momma, growing weary of the twice-weekly trips up there, has begun to question when graduation might be. I totally ignore her, though, because I know she is committed to “entering the arena!” And let’s face it, she still has her heart set on a blue ribbon or first place trophy. I have my heart set on running and getting more treats.

To learn more about competitions, Momma took a four-hour(!) Zoom seminar the other night called “Ready to Trial.” The seminar was given by Chris Mosley of Prior Lake, Minnesota. She is a long-time agility trainer and director of the Agility Training Department for Twin Cities Obedience Training Club (TCOTC). During her introduction, Chris talked about her dogs. She said Winn had been her “heart” dog, and Maggie, her “wallet” dog. She did not know yet what Pitch and Grammy were.

Next, Chris invited the participants to tell a little about themselves. When it was Momma’s turn, she refrained from saying I am her wallet dog, but she couldn’t stop herself from holding me up and introducing me to the group. She also said (twice) during her remarks how smart I am and have great potential and that it is just a joy to watch me train. By this time I was hiding so she could not hold me up to the camera again.

Chris continued by explaining that there are eight organizations in which we can compete, and it was a real alphabet soup. Of the choices, Momma quickly zeroed in on CPE, Canine Performance Events, because they are known as being handler friendly and have become very popular. I, too, am excited about CPE because they have cool-sounding competitions like Jumpers, Colors, Full House, Wildcard, Jackpot and Snooker. I just hope I get dealt an easy course.

As Chris got into the nuts and bolts about events, and Momma became disconcerted to learn there is more to competing than showing up with a dog and a treat. Owners must register, pay entry fees, and we dogs must be measured pre-competition for jump heights. There are also a bazillion rules about collars and leashes and buddies and “training in the ring.” Momma was rapidly becoming overwhelmed and knew she was in over her head (“I may have to circle back to you on this, Lina”). She did remember though that no squeaky toys or treats are allowed in the arena, and that if I go potty, we’re done. She also remembers that “dogs running naked” means I must compete with no collar.

Chris was super friendly and understanding. She knew we were all competition beginners so she fielded questions patiently and said (perhaps unwisely) “interrupt as many times as you want!” Momma, taking that literally, went to town on questions including: “How does one get a title?” and “It sounds like titles are not important to some people?” There were countless others, but I try to forget them.

Chris explained that some people do not care about titles and that some organizations give qualifying ribbons for just, well, putting in the runs. This was a little “pawrticipation trophy” for Momma, but she held her tongue. I would like to point out here that Momma herself was thrilled when she learned that some organizations give handlers 60 years of age and older extra time to complete a course (a leg up, so to speak). A little too “pawrticipation trophy” for me, but whatever.

All in all, Momma thought the seminar was terrific and is more determined that ever to have us compete. I’ll keep you “posted” on our progress. In the meantime, here is a short clip of our “back to school” run at Ruffgers.

Lina, Aspiring Aussie!


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