Monday, February 06, 2006

D coolest sport in town - Agility

Agility 101
My fav sport which involves running helter-skelter, up n over a variety of playground like equipment. D idea is 2 traverse a course made of up 15 -20 obstacles in sequence, in d shortest time possible, with d least faults … 0 faults = Clean Run! Truly demanding sport, combining elements of speed, skill, control n agility.

Pros: D only K9 discipline dat actually encourages running at breakneck speed, hurtling thru tunnels, jumping on n clambering over furniture ensembles … playtime dun get any better den dis! Also an outlet 4 K9s 2 release deir pent up energy n frustration from being on leash or cooped up 4 too long.
Cons: Need 2 b fairly fit 2 enjoy it. Sport is dominated by Border Collies n Shelties. Breeds with high work n play drive will also do well.

Luv d sport coz can really make ur owner look slow n unfit at d same time. Owners will typically struggle 2 keep up with d pace, proving dat 4 legs r always better den 2. Dat said, u’ll hv 2 truly concentrate on ur handler coz only he/she hs 1st hand knowledge of d course sequence, courtesy of a short pre-trial walkthru.

D obstacles

Jumps – make up d d bulk of obstacles in a course so a good spring in ur legs n stamina is essential 2 clear d hurdles consistently. Can get pretty complicated ven d course designer puts together several tricky jump sequences which require deft maneuvering, crossovers n tight turns 2 navigate. Simple obstacle 2 learn but also easy 2 incur faults at …especially in d jump sequences.

Tunnels – most of us luv 2 scamper thru tunnels so shld b a fairly straightforward obstacle. Bcomes more challenging ven placed in a ‘U’ or ’S’ shaped ensemble. Dis den requires d dog 2 learn 2 bounce of d inner walls 2 maintain momentum thru d tunnel n not stall midway. Can b a source of accumulated smells, particularly ven other pooches hv stopped midway thru 2 examine it more carefully n den deciding 2 leave deir mark on it … den it bcoms a potential trap luring other passerbys 2 do d same.

'Hurry up, slow n steady dun work in dis sport.'

D collapsible or chute tunnel is more tricky coz u’ll hv 2 garner enuf momentum 2 push thru bout 10’ of cloth lying on d ground, hence small breeds hv 2 work doubly hard. Dose who enjoy dark n tight spaces shld squeeze thru allrite. Claustrophobic mutts need not apply.

Contacts – comprising of d dogwalk, Aframe n see saw obstacles n named as such as u’ll have 2 place at least 1 paw on d contact portion of d obstacle on d ascent n descent. Designed with d safety of K9s in mind n 2 discourage over enthusiastic mutts from prematurely leaping off d obstacles from great heights. Adds an additional dimension of control 2 dis fast n furious sport as d temptation 2 jump off d obstacle is ever present … more so 4 fast dogs.

Dogwalk – similar 2 traversing up, over n down a long, slim plank but with pace. Least demanding of d 3 contact obstacles tho’ large breeds may need some practice 2 adjust 2 d narrow 1’ walkway. Easier 2 pick up if u hv good awareness of ur hind leg movements.

A-frame – another plank 2 maneuver over, only much steeper at 6‘ high. Requires some run up n momentum 2 drive over d steep incline, den need decent control on d descent so as not 2 miss d contact. Always very tempting 2 jump off d Aframe bcoz of d steep angled slope on d downside. Heavy dogs hv deir work cut out 4 dem.

See saw/ teeter – very tricky obstacle dat moves according 2 ur weight. Need 2 figure out d point ven d plank begins 2 tilt downwards n b comfortable with d moving plank n d crashing of d plank as it hits d ground. D last part gets onto many dogs’ nerves.

Pause table – an out of place coffee table whereby u r suddenly required 2 come 2 a screeching halt on n stay still for 5 secs … involves an extreme change of pace in d midst of tearing thru d course. Hence, faults r common as fast dogs tend 2 overshoot d table or get off too soon. Very testing on my patience.

Weave poles - d most difficult n demanding obstacle as u hv 2 somehow snake n zig-zag ur way in between 12 poles placed in a straight line. Takes lotsa practice 2 get rite n even more 2 do it with velocity. Make or break obstacle coz 1 slip up, 1 wrong entry or 1 missed pole will cost u dearly in any trial.

Agility sessions

'simple homemade obstacles...'

Started off sometime towards d end of 2004 ven I was bout 1 yo with our own homemade obstacles using Ikea shoe rests 2 hurdle, bamboo poles 2 weave n planks 2 dogwalk with. Also got a child’s play tunnel n coffee table 4 pausing on.

Ikea seemed 2 b a cheap n convenient source of alternative furniture which cld double up as agility obstacles. D rest of d obstacles were either too difficult 2 make or cumbersome 2 move around, hence v used d kids’ playground equipment whenever possible 2 practice running up n down d see-saw n slide …. not quite d actual thing but close enuf.

There werent any schools offering agility training yet so v pretty much practiced on our own at a small grassy area at Bangsar Sports Complex. Ppcom commenced classes in March n v joined primarily 4 d use of equipt coz dey had just shipped in a full set of really cool competition standard obstacles. As I already hd a head start, was d only mutt who cld perform most obstacles n was called upon 2 display time n again. D lack of a proper fenced park meant dat off leash work was limited … pity coz off leash runs is ven d real fun begins in agility.

D 1st dog park opened in early 2005 at d roof top carpark of Sth City Plaza … basic cemented area lined with a few agility obstacles. Shame dat it hs since closed down. But v managed 2 sneak in some practice n just 4 fun sessions in between. 1st few sessions were with Jojo, Russell n Taro. Jojo n Russell’s owners were an innovative lot n hd deir own homemade hoop jump, weave poles n see saw … nice. Together, v almost hd a complete set except 4 a proper dogwalk

Park also held a few themed nites in conjunction with d agility sessions n quite a number of dogs turned up n got 2 try out d sport 4 d 1st time.

'Hey guys, dis dogwalk seems a little flat ...'

Remember Russell being a bit nervous in d beginning bout running in front of other mutts but he has since gotten used 2 it n cn now run d entire course off leash. Jojo can do it as well … all at her own pace, of course. Taro d Bulldog does some of it ven he feels like it.

'B4 d start of each session, all k9s sat 2 attention 4 d singing of d national anthemn.'

Petnu, also commenced agility training in an enclosed field which was conducive 4 practicing off leash runs. Particularly enjoy d sprints at d large school grounds with my speedy pals, Junior n Angel. Also got hounded by a few GSDs in d process but dey usually cant keep up with us speed demons.

After several try outs at d homemade equipt, Hana - my Bangsar running mate, was also eager n ready 2 hv another go at agility. With treats as d primary motivator, she hs taken 2 agility very nicely n hs bcom adept enuf 2 do basic demos as well.

'Any longer n I'll b falling off d table....(big yawn)'

Together with Russell, v performed agility demos 4 a few doggie events in d 2nd half of 2005 n dis was a new experience 4 us n entertaining as well. Hope dat d sport will continue 2 grow n cant wait 4 d day ven real trials will b held in dis country. 4 a demo, check out Agility addict I and Agility addict II.

2006 K9 Pets Training Centre in Ikano also organised a couple of agility fun sessions at d gazebo area on Saturday evenings. Glad 2 c dat Ben Ben was still fit n nippy, d only large breed I hv come across who can run d course well. Concrete surface wasnt ideal but it is certainly a novel idea doing agility at a shopping mall n in d public’s view … sweet. Mayb v’ll get 2 c more K9s at malls n public places in d future. 4 a unique bird's eye view of proceedings, c Russell's video vault

MKA commenced their own agility fun sessions at Padang Merbok on Sunday evenings. Dey even hd a homemade triple bar jump ... groovy. Brought down d 3rd pole a couple of times but managed 2 clear it d 3rd time around. Really need 2 stretch 2 clear dis demanding hurdle. Also met a Border Collie, Chester, who only just took up d sport n seem 2 b a keen prospect.

Pdg Merbok is 1 of my fav fields 2 run at coz its a pretty decent size n usually frequented by other K9s as well. Heard dat its about 2 b converted 2 a parking lot, what a shame ... another dog friendly green lung taken away. Dese fields suitable 4 off leash runs r rare enuf as it is.


Blogger PoenyStormRider said...

enjoy reading your blog, very informative.. especially the brief introduction for each agility obstable.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Groovy Dogs Just Wanna Hv Fun said...

Tq. Also wanna put up my thots on flyball but need some pics 1st. Need 2 start flyball sessions again soon.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Jojo said...

wow, don't know you still updating the old post.
well done.

10:23 AM  
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