If you know Toffee, it is unlikely that you would associate her with the word ‘agility’. She is about as agile as a sack of spuds. She will be dragged on a walk but, given the option, I am sure she would choose someone’s knee or a nice warm blanket. She’s not really a ‘let’s go for a run and see if we can catch some rabbits’ dog; she’s more of a ‘let’s sit down and have a nice cup of tea’ dog.
My daughter Emma, having set up all manner of obstacles in the garden using plant pots and bamboo canes, has shown a great deal of enthusiasm for agility, which is more that can be said for Toffee. However, her determination (Emma’s not Toffee’s) has met with some progress, so I decided to enrol them both on an agility course for beginners. (This was not to free me up for an hour to do the Saturday supermarket shop, just in case you were thinking along those lines … although, now you come to mention the idea …)
We arrived at the class with obligatory doggy nibble bribes, a variety of leads (not sure why), plenty of poo bags (in case of beginners’ nerves) and a clicky thing that I bought when Toffee was a puppy. (Your first dog is a bit like having a first baby – you buy all manner of stuff that you never actually use.) Emma was quite nervous; probably because she knows Toffee too well. Toffee was excited and jumping about like a nutter. This is because she got to ‘go in the car’ and ‘going in the car’ generally means going to the beach or to see other people, which are two of her favourite things.
On the course was a cute Schnauzer called Whoopi (cool name – wish I’d thought of that) along with the instructor, Kat. Having sniffed each others’ bottoms for a bit (that is Toffee and Whoopi – not Kat), it was time for the serious stuff: jumping over hurdles, followed by running through a tunnel and then a bit of weaving (we’re talking running round poles, not navajo rug making).
All I can say is that I was shocked. Perhaps it was Kat’s expert tuition. Perhaps Emma had threatened Toffee with having to sleep next to the washing machine again. Perhaps she was showing off in front of Whoopi. I suspect the treats had a lot to do with it. But whatever it was, Toffee was brilliant! She leapt, tunnelled and slalomed like a pro. Nobody could quite believe it. I have to say that Emma was great, too. I don’t think Toffee would have performed quite so well if I had been in charge.
So , agility has been a great success. Well, the first lesson at least. And now Toffee is doing what Toffee does best … sleeping. It doesn’t matter how good she might be at agility, her expertise will always be in the discipline of chilling out.