What I learned about running with dogs ~ Part 1


{{{ NOTE:  this is a long post about dogs...if you prefer cats, it's okay to leave early.}}}

First things first... if you have some magic agility socks, be sure to pack them in your gear bag.
A pair of these, a positive attitude and your favorite furry companion in the whole world...
who knows how far you might go?


This past weekend I attended my first dog agility trial ~ not as a participant, but as an observer.
I've been curious for some time... how do these events work?  Who are these people
who compete in this totally fun sport with their dogs?

Nothing compares to seeing the real thing, so off I toodled to a NADAC event
held at Mega-Dogs, in Woodinville, WA.
As it turned out, what an awesome venue for a first timer...not too big, with a homey atmosphere & lots
of friendly dog people wandering about...
 the perfect place to gauge what I might be up against.
Up against?  Well yes, I needed to see if it's as intimidating as I'd built it up to be.
Isla and I have been taking agility training classes for awhile now, but competing
...that's a whole 'nuther ballgame altogether.

I tend to make assumptions without checking the facts first (don't we all?).
Boy oh boy, did I get an education.

The first time I ever saw this done in one of the advanced classes, I thought it looked incredibly silly.
These folks are not walking around giving high fives or saying,
"Howdy Joe, long time no see," or "Hey there, Sally, how ya do'in..."
nope, this is serious practice time for the humans before they bring out their four-legged partners
and run that course...in numerical order.  They are counting, memorizing their moves.
First lesson: here was a professional, nationally accredited trial
 and what I saw was people of all sizes and shapes participating...

...just like the dogs.
So poof, there went my first intimidation...my fear of not being athletically fit enough.
ANYONE can compete in this sport.  So much for that excuse.

It was a joy to watch some of the amazing teamwork...

...some dogs had solid sit-stays at the start line

... others had perfect timing & excellent paw work

or handlers with really good body language.

But most of the time, there were none of these things and that is the next important thing that I learned...
it's not about perfection ~ it's about having fun with your dog.

I hope I can meet this man someday...I'd like to shake his hand and thank him
for his extreme care & kindness towards his dog.  I'd been watching him in a couple of runs
with his beautiful Belgian shepherd
and had taken notice because he had a very sweet way with her...gentle and easy.
Around midday, his dog had a meltdown.
She wouldn't take any of the jumps, stopped being attentive, then just stopped.

Here he is ending the run without finishing.  He didn't push her, or yell, or show his frustration in any way.
He led her off the course as if nothing at all was amiss.  She had stopped having fun
and her wonderful owner said, no problem.

They came back out later in the day to have a very successful run.

The proof was in the wags...

Wagging and smiling, it's what it's all about.
Here's the core of our group from Paws on the Rock...that's Michelle on the left,
owner & ace dog trainer extraordinaire...and her partner, Audrey, helper with most everything.
Clearly, she picks some of the high reward tasks...

Can you say, blissed out...calm...dog???

Do not be fooled by this apparent grooming goodwill...losing five pounds of fur
CAN make your dog run faster  ;>]]

I think Benjamin and Sam might have been the start of the whole dog story for these gals...
the boys are about nine and ten years old now, both adopted from rescues
and here they are at trial, going (maybe not quite as) strong, yet still competing,
still having fun.

And that was my next lesson...

...as long as you feel good,  GO FOR IT.

: : :

Stay tuned for my next installment and see who wins a First Place Blue Ribbon...
this is a photo-heavy post, so Part 2 will follow along shortly.
Thanks for being here!

Part 2 is now posted...CLICK HERE.


  1. haha! LOVE it!
    So true that we build up walls of expectation instead of being open. So many things we turn away from ...in fear, out of doubt... that if we'd just taken a breath and TRIED we would have found it so much easier.

    ... so when's your first trial Miss SP & Pretty Isla?!?

    1. Jen, you ALWAYS seem to nail it in one, my dear...to TRY/no walls, yes, is everything.
      And maybe in July ;>]]

  2. I have the same question as Just Jen; when's your first trial?? :) Loved the post, Christi. It is beautifully written, the photographs are wonderful and I felt tears come to my eyes as I read your narrative. I'm so glad that you were there and learned all these fabulous things. Thank you also for the oh so kind words about Audrey and I and and my dear boys.

    1. I so appreciate your comment, M ~ all of this has been such a light in my life...my life with dogs and dog-loving peeps for friends. Just so happy to be part of it. And to know I can do it till I drop ;>]]

  3. My son loves dogs but we rent and cannot keep one. Its his dream. This gave me an idea. I know they run local competitions. We shall attend the next one. Cheers for the inspiration. All the best. x

    1. I'm soooo happy you stopped by, AG (I love popping by your blog). Oh yes, do that with son, you will have such a lovely time. Altho he may want a dog even more after the event...it is very captivating and the dogs are so clearly bonded with their owners. I waited over 25 years between this dog and my last. They are worth waiting for - but I hope son does not have to wait THAT long!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Connie ~ I had such a blast taking them and *weaving* the story in my mind throughout the day...

  5. Fantastic post!! We were so happy you came for a little look-see!! I think Ginger was especially grateful for your presence, it's nice to have support from others in the class! Love your photos, as usual !!
    Hope to see you in Port Gamble, whether you are running Isla, or just sitting and watching all the happy dogs with me!!

    1. Many, many thanks, A! I had a fantastic time and it was just wonderful watching you & M do your stuff out there. Oh, and thanks also for sharing your shade...much appreciated.
      I've put the Port Gamble dates on my calendar :>D

  6. This was a fun post. I've been to one of these and thoroughly enjoyed watching the dogs go through their paces.

    1. Penny, thank you ~ I fear a delightful addiction is percolating...and I shall give in! Can we ever have too many *positive* addictions? Beads, stitching, and running with dogs...yup, sounds pretty sweeeeet to me.

  7. Sweet dogs and love the story of the compassionate dog-friend... !

    1. Ohh, I'm so glad you liked his story, Valerianna...he must be a marvelous man to treat his dog like that (or at least I like to think so).

  8. Benjamin and Sam stole my heart!
    I love older dog's lovely grizzled faces.
    What fun this looks.....

    1. Elizabeth...those two are BIG TIME heart stealers, for shure!
      And I'm with you about the grizzly factor. Makes me wanna smooch all over 'em, such sweeties.

  9. Shhss...don't say that nine or ten is old. :) It might give my Briar ideas that she's geriatric. Looks like so much fun, glad you had a good day.

    1. Right, Deb, mum's the word...sssssssshhhhhh....
      Yesyesyes. So much fun to see woofers of all ages enjoying themselves, not to mention their humans!

  10. je vois ..même un chihuahua.. il faut que j'entraine mon chien...

    1. Oui, même un chihuahua ! Les chiens de toute taille sont formés à la perfection.