Friday, August 12, 2005

Graduation Day, Part Deux, er..Part Roux

Roux, our newest, but growing-at-full-steam border collie, had a graduation ceremony of her own this last week. Roux graduated from Blue Ribbon K-9 Training Center after completing a 8-week course in Foundation Agility.

At this stage in her life, Roux could be compared to a gangly, long-legged, gawky teenager. So when we arrive at the training field, Roux is so excited to see other dogs her little "wiggle-butt" ends up going into hyperdrive. If you've ever seen a hip-hop video where the over-sexed women can shake their booty six different directions at once - well, that's Roux.

All that pent-up excitement isn't wasted when class starts. Roux eagerly explodes through the tunnel, buzzes across the see-saw, and flys through the tire. Therese, one of Blue Ribbon's trainers, commented one week, "She's got attitude. I like her attitude." It was one of those subtle comments where all the sweat, work, frustrations from "why-can't-this-dog-learn-this-simple-routine" become worth it. And as with Gumbo, when Roux gets in the Jeep and especially when we turn on Thomas Road, the excitement of knowing she is going to 'work' drives her into a spinning frenzy in the back seat.

Back at graduation, the dogs and handlers had to successfully go through all the exercises we learned to "graduate" to the next level - beginning agility. Individual dogs and handlers were scored separately; how well the dog did the exercises, but also how well the handlers gave commands without calling the dog's name, giving release words, and overall handling. In this foundation class the dog can pass, but the handler may flunk, thus dog and handler has to repeat the class.

We all drew number to determine our work order. Out of nine dogs, we were number "8". So we sat and waited. Roux was restless, all that "ready-to-go" forced to idle. Eventually we did our exercises and waited for the results. Roux came in second place, earning herself a red ribbon and the second pick out of a huge box of doggie toys drug out for awards.

Roux picked a pink and white knotted rope toy with a pink tennis ball impaled on it (well, pink is her color.) She went onto a flipping and tossing frenzy with it. But it was really getting late and we headed for home, knowing that Mom was fast asleep and will have to hear our good news in the morning. Upon arriving home, Gumbo immediately stole the pink and white tennis ball toy as Roux pranced into the house with it in her mouth. Snarly-facing ensued over this and by morning the ball, sans the knotted rope, is nowhere to be found. Kathy later discovered the ball filleted into one piece of pink material, much like a continuous peel from an apple.

It's on to bigger and greater things. Roux started Beginning Obedience last night at Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club, and next week starts the next agility level at Blue Ribbon. She's really a semi-rebellious teenager now, feeling her oats, starting to fill out, her body starting to catch up to those legs-right-up-to-her-neck, and certainly testing the pecking order of our pack. And Roux's moved up in that pecking order a notch. Kathy is now at the bottom of the pecking order, and will have to work at reclaiming her formally held number 2 position. I just hope she doesn't want me to take her to any training sessions! I'm just too pooped. Besides, folks might think we're a bit kinky if I'm leading her around on collar and leash.

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