I also train a Norfolk Terrier. Aelz and I are taking classes in both obedience and agility. They complement each other: Obedience gives her discipline and Agility generates enthusiasm. Aelz began puppy classes at three months, and then we graduated to obedience and agility classes at one year. Fortunately, a friend let me borrow her set of puppy agility obstacles so I could introduce them to Aelz in very short sessions. She thought this was great fun.
I am currently attending two agility and two obedience classes per week to get ready for spring and summer trials. For me, they are a lot of work, but Aelz gets treats, fun, and "playing" with friends. Concentrating on the task at hand is sometimes very difficult. She smells so many interesting things. I have almost all the equipment in my backyard so we can practice at short intervals a couple of times a day. But, oh those distractions again! Here it is birds, chipmunks and squirrels. It is so hard to keep her nose off the ground with such wonderful scent trails to follow.
We have progressed over the past year, with many back steps included, always focusing on safety and having fun. Aelz likes the fun part the best. I decided to take the plunge and enter a CPE agility trial ... and trial is certainly the right word for it! I entered her in three classes at Level 1: Standard, Snooker, and Jumpers. We finished all the courses. In Standard and Jumpers we were eliminated (the "nose" got us) and in Snooker we did not qualify because of time faults. Aelz did enjoy herself, a little too much at times, and I learned a great deal about what to expect from her in a competitive situation.
We were back again a month later for another trial. The A-Frame is a problem and we are working at lower heights to build up her muscles. In CPE there are not weave poles at Level 1. Aelz can do all the other obstacles. She is a true terrier and especially likes the tunnels! Her nose is still a problem, but in this trial we got a qualifying score in Jumpers. We had our first qualifying green ribbon and one leg on a long journey.
The last weekend in March I entered her in her first obedience trail. Uh-huh ... there is that word "trial" again. Heeling was oh so hard. All those new interesting smells. But we got through it. On the stand for examination she so wanted to move those feet, but again she did it. Next came the recall. She came lickety-split across the ring to the delight of everyone watching. Even the judge broke into a grin as Alez screeched to a halt in front of me and finished on command.
The long sit and long down went beautifully. During the long down, with head on her paws, I thought she was surely going to fall asleep. In the end we were called back into the ring for that coveted green (qualifying) ribbon. Alez had earned her first Novice leg! Two more to go.
I am looking forward to adding AKC agility trails and of course more obedience trails this year. Training a terrier, a Norfolk Terrier at that, is a trial ... but the rewards are sweet.
(Ed. Note: Alez earned an AKC Novice A Standard agility leg on April 29th.)
ANTIC, June, 2001
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