It’s the last week in May and first week in June. All of the crops have been seeded, the fruits are far from ripe and the weeds have not yet become an issue so it’s one of the few times that we have within our season to take a moment and do something for fun.
This past weekend was Devils Run Car show in Devils Lake so we took a little time to enjoy all the classic cars. We also took a day to enter Millie the barn dog into an Agility trial in Minot. With not much other than baby seedlings to photograph or write about this week, the Agility Trial gets the spotlight.
It’s tough being a barn dog in a competitive dog world. Millie, A.K.A Don’t Coddle the Barn Dog, has successfully taken and passed basic obedience, advanced obedience, foundation agility, introduction to agility courses and her Canine Good Citizen test. She’s at home in the local bar, in social situations, on the ranch and has been asked to be tested as a therapy dog. However, when faced with over 50 other ‘citified’ dogs, house dogs with owners who pamper them and who live in houses and get baths and regular treats and have ready access to training facilities; it’s a hard row to hoe.
Agility is also a confusing, involved, and intense sport – not one to be taken lightly and certainly not one for every dog or owner. If it were not for the caring spirit and encouragement of the Action Agility volunteers and club members, the day would not have been nearly as enjoyable. Thanks go out to all of them for putting on a great trial and making it fun!The bottom line good news is Millie was able to take home a third place finish in her Touch N Go class, a fourth place finish in Jumpers class and a fifth place finish in Tunnelers. She finished every single run with not a single fault - meaning she didn’t make any mistakes that could have cost her points and she correctly completed each obstacle. She made friends with a horse at the show grounds, was able to beat out an extremely pampered pooch who’s owner thinks the world revolves around her high priced pup (and Millie was free), she got to spend the whole day with Adam, AND she was the only dog there who was able and WILLING to kill the garter snake that was lurking at the show door waiting to terrorize every participant and small child entering or exiting the show building; saving many lives – if not skipped heart beats – in the process I’m sure. She also earned a new admirer who had a soft spot in her heart for ‘farm collies’, those working dogs who really do WORK for a living and are an integral part of any farm or ranch. These things all made it a worthwhile day.
Above: Adam and Millie take a break from the ring - Millie enjoys a belly rub while wondering why she can't just go play with the horses in the pasture next to them.
The bad news is she did not do a good enough job to earn any points towards an Agility title. She (and Adam), was just too slow to make the necessary course run in the allotted time. Now while this might make her sound slow, keep in mind that there were over 50 dogs in each class she entered and no more than 14 made the run in the allotted time without faults to qualify for points. So; she was not alone.
Above: A courtesy at the show was to offer a raffle drawing to those that did not receive a qualifying score - as you can see, there were more than a few entries in the jar.
A whole day without being able to chase the pigeons off the grain bins, the swallows out of the barn, and the gophers out of the field or check the chickens and sheep is tough for a dog like Millie. Putting on some speed to race to my call and protect me from harm and alarm when I almost step on a snake or spot a mouse in the barn is her true joy and forte’. Racing to jump over a bar or sprint through a tunnel – not as much.
Above: Adam and Millie wait ringside for their next turn to try a few tunnels and jumps.
Post script note: Not all dogs entered in the agility trial, in fact not many, were 'pampered pooches'. Many are great athletes, that like human athletes, train hard for their sport. They were a joy to watch and it was a pleasure to get to know them and their owners. A dog with a job - or a sport - is a thing of beauty.
For more information on Agility dogs, training, and events, check out http://www.action-agility.com/