Saturday, December 31, 2011

Agility in KSA: The Back Story

This is a post that is long overdue. I want to give you North American readers some idea of the issues and obstacles that make doing agility in KSA difficult.

Like my Basic Obedience classes, the agility classes are part of Community Education. There is a remarkable array of classes available nearly year-round through Community Ed: hair cutting, digital photography, cooking, intro to carpets, and of course language classes such as the French classes that I've been taking for two years. The classes target adults although in special circumstances and with permission of the parents, older children can sometimes register for them. All of the instructors are people like me, a member of the Aramco community who has a special skill or interest and who is willing to share that with others. We sign up for Community Ed classes online and payment is taken directly from our paychecks (in the case of non-working wives, the payments come from their husbands' paychecks!). And instructors who are direct employees are paid through an addition to our paychecks at the end of each trimester.

Offering the dog training classes through Community Education provides many direct benefits to me. First, they handle the registration and the money. That's a huge administrative hassle that I don't need to worry about. And for the basic obedience class, Community Ed arranges for us to use a very large air-conditioned room at the middle school, so the classes can be held any time of day and any time of the year.

But much more importantly, Community Education provides me an Aramco-approved cover for playing with dogs in public venues. With their blessing, we can pass through the school security gates. With their blessing, we can use school property on the weekends when it is not used by other groups. Community Ed's wasta gives us cover.

The venue of the middle school itself is also extremely valuable. First, there is a 10-foot high concrete wall around the entire school. Second, we can control which gate dog class participants use, and thus can keep a close watch on poop patrol. And third, for the agility class, the soccer field itself is fenced again (although with a dozen openings).

Why is it so important that we keep such a low profile? I can already hear you say, why not trot out into the desert or use a sports field that is only used in the evenings?

We expats that wish to have dogs are allowed to do so only by the thinnest level of tolerance. For example, for about a year, no dogs have been allowed into KSA unless their paperwork describes them as labs or retrievers.

A majority of Muslims believe dogs are unclean. The religious reasons are far too complicated for me to deal with here. But I will tell you that these opinions are based on interpretations of hadiths, which are "sayings" of Mohammed written down as late as a couple of centuries after his death. You can google "hadith islam dog" and do the research yourself. Saudis' fear of dogs is palpable. They will cross the street if they see you approaching with dogs. Women will move to the other side of their husbands. Children turn and run. And to be truthful, many Asians, both Christian and Muslim, are no better.

The country in which I reside is openly hostile to dogs, particularly the idea of dogs as companion animals. The official rules are designed to make it as difficult as possible to bring dogs into the country. The behavior of the locals is intended to make it as uncomfortable as possible to move dogs openly about in the community.

If a single Saudi were to complain about the dog classes, even if they complained for no other reason than they didn't like dogs, then that single complaint would be enough to end the classes, even with the wasta that Community Education possesses.

We walk a very fine line with our agility classes to be sure. You can't do agility with the dog on lead and yet it is a direct violation of Aramco rules to have dogs off leash. Now I hope you can see the value of tucking ourselves away behind the middle school fences and holding the classes at sunrise on the weekends. We can't offend if we can't be observed.

Having a dedicated dog park somewhere else on camp is something that Aramco doesn't want to touch with a 10-foot pole. The security and safety risks are overwhelming. Given the barely tolerated presence of dogs in the community, I hope that you can see that Aramco does not want to be involved in such as issues as:
  • who is responsible if your dog gets out and gets hit by a car?
  • who is responsible if your dog bites another dog in the dog park?
  • who is responsible if your dog escapes from the dog park and bites a person?
  • who is responsible for keeping the dog park clean?
  • who is responsible for making and enforcing poop pick-up rules?
  • who is responsible for deciding what constitutes an aggressive dog and for making and enforcing a rule of "no aggressive dogs"?
The short answer for most of those is that you are responsible and your dog will be put down if something happens. KSA is not a democracy. It does not have a codified legal system. There is no recourse to such decisions.

There is a vocal dog park contingent at community meetings who simply do not understand these safety issues. They are always the people who are known for not picking up their dogs' poop, or for never walking their own dogs (houseboys rarely pick up dog poop). There are certain streets in Dhahran which are literally lined on both sides with piles of dog shit (I never walk my dogs along those streets). A dog park would quickly become a sea of dog shit in this community.

The "dog parkists" don't understand how important it is to stay under the Aramco and the Saudi radar. They don't understand that it takes work and commitment to openly maintain the presence of dogs in such a culture and community. They would risk the privilege of owning a dog for the ease of not having to walk their dogs any further than the "dog park" in order for Fluffy to shit where he wants to, and where they don't have to pick it up.

The constant threat of the "dog parkists" has caused me to abandon all attempts to form a recreational dog training group. We can play our dog games and I can help a few dogs each year become good canine citizens by keeping our heads down and by staying under the protection of Community Education, who gives us a semi-official stamp of approval.

I am very thankful that Community Ed supports us and gives us a safe place for us to train. I am not a patient person and am still surprised that I managed to wait for two years before pushing the agility classes. I built up wasta of my own by holding so many basic obedience classes without incident and to such positive feedback from the community. It's all come together for now, but I am aware that our agility game could end at any moment. That's why each week, each class that we manage to hold, is a little miracle all by itself!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Agility in KSA Week 10

Today was our last class for this session. I'm very happy to report that Community Education is going to let us run the dog agility class again starting in late January for another 10 sessions! Even better, I've arranged to move it to Fridays so that I can reclaim my Thursday morning shopping time in Khobar. At last report, I have 7 handlers signed up for the agility class. I'll teach the basic obedience class again on Thursday afternoons; registration for that class filled in about a week.

MH and I planned a very special set up for this final class: a complete novice level course comprised of 11 obstacles with one side change. The course had 7 jumps, 2 tunnels (one straight, one curved), 1 chute, and for a special surprise, two sets of 2 weave poles, canted at 2 o'clock and 8 o'clock, 10 feet apart, put in the course as a "weave" obstacle. You can see the layout in the videos I've posted below: a sweeping U-shaped affair with the chute as the final obstacle off to the left. We numbered the entire course and set out cones for the start and finish lines.

After we had it all set up, MH and I ran it with our dogs to ensure it was runnable, and to figure out where the change of side needed to occur. I originally thought it would be a cross before jump 10, but the speed that our dogs had on the second straightaway meant we could never be there with them when they were at jump 10. So the side change had to be done between tunnel 6 and jump 7. An FC or a RC would work, although we have only taught them front crosses in class, so I hoped they would choose that.

Just imagine what we were asking of our dogs and handlers: eleven obstacles! That's a lot to tackle after only 10 weeks of class, considering that none of these ladies and their dogs attended all 10 weeks. But MH and I wanted to set the bar high for them.

After they walked it and we had a short discussion about walking courses in general and this course in particular, we had them backchain it. This means we had them work the last 4 obstacles, then the last 8, then finally doing the entire thing, with plenty of rewarding along the way. One thing I didn't do often enough with my own agility pups in training was stop and reward during a sequence. I wanted to make sure that our novice handlers and their dogs didn't make the same mistake. Then, after all of that practice, we asked them to run the full course and reward at the end.

Our little novice group exceeded expectations and more! All three dogs were focused and driving forward, diving into tunnels and over jumps, happy to receive their rewards along the way but also quite happy to do the obstacles, and by the end of class, all three dogs were able to complete the full course with only one huge reward at the end. That's a huge leap forward in dog and handler understanding of what agility is! MH and I were getting goosebumps watching them! Of course they weren't perfect but I have seen far worse handling in real trials. I told MH that we managed to create some real agility handlers and dogs in just 10 weeks!

Judge for yourself in the videos below.

video


All of the handlers looked at the "weave" obstacle and said, my dog doesn't know what the poles mean. They only do it for the toy reward at the end. MH and I said, try it anyway. We've been sending them home for several weeks with either fixed steel 2x2 bases or stick-in-the-ground poles (depending on whether they have a backyard with grass or not) so they can practice. Turns out that practice does pay off because all of the dogs drove forward from jump 7 directly into the first set of 2 poles and forward to the second set. To their handler's surprise, they absolutely understood what the required performance was supposed to be.

And yes, I already know what you purists are saying, that we are totally perverting Garrett's 2x2 method. So what? We are in Saudi Arabia and making all of this up as we go. We put those 2x2s in a sequence and the dogs did them in the sequence. We may not have dogs doing inline weaves yet...but we will. And we are going to have plenty of fun getting to that point.

video


There were other challenges in our little novice course besides the side change. Jumps 3, 4, and 5 formed part of the curve from the first leg of the U to the second. The handlers worried about these curved jumps because they'd only done jumps in a straight line, but for the most part, the dogs did just fine.

And I sneaked in the curved tunnel, obstacle 6. We've been putting out straight tunnels for weeks but we've been heavily rewarding for the tunnel commitment. So the curved tunnel presented no problem at all for the dogs (handlers, it was another story as they had to drive forward to get in position for the FC!).

video



On a final note, all of the handlers who signed up for the class (all of them, not just these three) apparently were sneaking around behind our backs because they presented MH and I each with an extremely generous gift certificate for the spas and restaurants at the Ritz Carlton in Bahrain! I suspect MH was as moved by this as I was. And I'm not kidding about the generous part!

This class has been a labor of love on all levels for me and MH. Yes, we get up hideously early on a weekend morning. Yes, we haul every scrap of equipment up and down a steep hill each week. Yes, we set up the class in the dark. But...we have learned so much about teaching agility. We get to remember way back when we were novice handlers too. We get to try out different teaching and learning methods. And we have been able to provide our own dogs an opportunity to do agility that both of us have waited two years for. In the process, a very happy coincidence indeed, we have provided that same opportunity for some handlers and their dogs who are now infected with the agility bug! I am so very thankful that MH is my partner in this venture and that we have found some dog folks who find this crazy game just as exciting as we do.

I am quite blessed to end my second year in Saudi Arabia doing agility with friends.

Recuperating

Other than the somewhat garish wound and stitches, you'd hardly know that Harry had surgery yesterday morning. He's a bit more tired today than usual and still a bit wobbly on that leg, but he jumps up on the couch and did his squeaky bounce to greet a friend last night. Gotta admire those tough little terriers.
Most of the swelling is gone. He has two additional layers of stitches inside the wound to close the skin layers. The lump was completely outside his muscle tissue and the vet said he didn't have to cut any muscle at all to remove it. He said it went very smoothly. That's Mimi's tail sticking into the middle of the picture.
Mimi in fact is presenting me with more of a worry. Upul came by yesterday after the work day specifically to talk to me about her. 

Harry and I left around a quarter to 7 that morning and Upul came over around 10am. He said he could hear Mimi howling from the parking lot!

He opened the gate and came up to the window and looked in to see her sitting with her back to the window, head thrown up, howling. She didn't even hear him until he rattled his keys. It is quite clear that she was most unhappy being left alone (the cat, snoozing upstairs, hardly counts).

She didn't greet him like she usually does. She ran to the door and stood there. He thought she needed to go out so he put her on the leash and took her out. Ignoring all of her usual "I've gotta go" quick peeing spots, she pulled him straight to the parking lot...Upul said, "ma'am, were you parked to the left of the Range Rover this morning?" Um, yes, that's exactly where the car was when I left with Harry. She dragged Upul to the very spot where I had been parked, sniffed around, then wanted to go back in the house. He said the entire time he was in my place cleaning up, she stood at the door staring out instead of following him around like usual. I'll just mention that she can't see the parking lot from the house.

Upul asked me what I was going to do when Harry "was gone." I said, well, I guess I'm going to have to get Mimi a dog!



Mimi recovering from a full morning of agility and Harry just recovering. I had been on the other end of the couch with Harry's head in my lap. They didn't move when I got up to take this picture.
She greeted Harry's return at noon on Wednesday with extravagant sniffing and nudging.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting Old

Harry nodding off with a toy in his mouth after a happy game of fetch.
I was grooming Harry this weekend, something I usually only need to do every couple of months at most, and when I was clippering his fuzzy butt, I discovered a large mushy lump on his right buttock. It didn't feel connected to anything, sort of like it was floating below the skin. It certainly hadn't been there when I last groomed him. I slept very poorly for a couple of nights until I was able to get him into the vet.

The vet clinic here is not quite bare bones but it is starkly utilitarian. The two vets take care of an array of small animals as well as the horses at the Hobby Farms in both Dhahran and Ras Tanura. They are stretched pretty thin even on good days.

The one that was on duty when I took Harry in was the Kiwi. He's stereotypically blunt and abrupt but I quite like him. He gave a quick look at Harry's lump, grabbed a giant syringe with a tiny needle stuck on the end, and jabbed it in the lump a few times. He then rubbed the needle tip on a glass slide and held it up to the light on the ceiling. "No sign of cells here, probably not cancer" he said. Just like that. No fixing agents, no stains, no cover slide, no looking at things under a microscope. Veterinary medicine by triage.

Diagnosis: lipoma. The lump is about the size of a ping pong ball (pretty big when you are the size of a fox terrier). Lots of dogs get lumps as they age and lipomas are for the most part benign and can be left alone, although they can get quite large.

The vet and I debated the various sides of the matter: would it get bigger, would I want to do surgery on a 15 yr old dog (in two years), would it interfere in any way with function, what would the surgery entail, what about recovery, etc.

I have decided to have it removed. This is his only lump but the rapidity with which it developed concerns me a bit. Harry is still quite vigorous and healthy, even if he is getting a bit hard of hearing (upon returning from class, Mimi and I can sometimes get entirely in the house before he hears us and wakes up), and his cataracts are getting progressively worse. Even so, he is up for walks whenever they are offered, he plays with his toys with as much joy, if perhaps a little less energy, as he has always had, and he eats everything he is offered. He may not be able to get much air when he jumps to greet me (his hind legs don't leave the ground very often these days), and he's rather stiff in the mornings. But he's 13 years old and all of these things are to be expected.

I hope I'm not subjecting him to a procedure that isn't needed, but the sight of that lump bothers me. His surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning. (If you are interested in this sort of thing, a series of photos of a lipoma removal can be found here; they aren't kidding, not for the squeamish.)

    
Harry and Mimi (the lump under the greenish blanket; she likes to be completely covered) on a cold evening a couple of weeks ago. They'd had play time, dinner, a walk, more play time, and it was at last time to settle down for the evening.



Friday, December 16, 2011

Agility in KSA Week 9

It's the end of the year and all of those "over" holidays are around the corner (overeating, overspending on crap nobody needs, over-religious-ing on an originally pagan holiday co-opted by the Christian church, over-decorating, over-emotional...). We aren't immune to any of that stuff here although it does take a little more effort to make it all happen in an overdone fashion.

And in the holiday spirit, this week I got emails from one handler after another saying they couldn't make it to class, until the list dwindled to one. And she emailed me at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning saying she was sick.

I emailed MH earlier in the week to let her know of the trend. Her reply? "Well, I'll be there." That's my girl!

So she and I spent two hours having our own private agility seminar! We worked our way through two different exercises from the CleanRun Exercise Source Books (I have numbers 1 and 2). As always, what looks fairly easy on the page can turn into quite a challenge when you put actual dogs and handlers on the field.

We had a great time! It was another clear and cold morning here in Dhahran and by the time we were ready to run, the sun was up and the field was entirely ours! MH and I use radically different handling styles and it was quite fun to watch each other sort out the various challenges in each exercise.

I asked MH to take some pictures of me and Mimi since I realized that I've been posting about agility in KSA for TWO months and haven't posted one pic of my little fox terrier actually doing it.


Mimi. She KNOWS that the agility class is really all about her.

MH and Austin, one of her PWDs.

A great picture of Mimi turning out of the tunnel. She is one happy fox terrier.

This is my favorite picture of all. I just love the sign for the school in the background! Mimi exiting the weaves. Thanks to MH for taking this great photo!

MH and her older PWD Dallas in the weaves.

Not the best picture of Mimi (amazing extension on her hind legs though) but it shows me and the school sign. Just in case any of you were doubting that I was really doing agility in Saudi Arabia. That's the bunny fur tug-n-treat clutched in my left hand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Adventures in the Kitchen

I've mentioned that the five English-language radio stations we get here in the Eastern Province include the Armed Forces Radio Network. Instead of commercials, they run short spots lasting 1 to 3 minutes that are pulled from public networks all over the U.S. One of these is a short radio blog done by Mike Colameco called "Food in a Flash". Because cooking is one of my hobbies, I usually try to pay pretty close attention to his bits. This weekend, he talked about baking winter squash with maple syrup, bacon fat, and lime juice. Bacon? Limes? Squash? It sounded pretty interesting!

I like all of those flavors on their own so the idea of combining them sounded like something I definitely needed to try. When I ran to the commissary on Friday, I picked up some imported limes and two nice Saudi-grown butternut squashes. We can get locally grown limes but they are small and bitter and not all that juicy. I prefer to pay more and use limes that have a more familiar performance.

Unfortunately, I was folding laundry at the time of Colameco's bit and didn't get all the details, such as oven temp, and whether you peel the squash or not. To find an answer to these questions, I turned to the venerable Joy of Cooking. But even this hoary reference didn't help me much. I could have sworn Colameco said to peel the squash, but JofC said not to. Recipes for baked squash in JofC called for oven temps ranging from 325F to 400F--that wasn't narrowing things down much. But in the end, I realized that all of the JofC recipes involved steaming the squash in the oven then adding some seasoning. That clearly wasn't what Colameco had in mind when he was extolling the virtues of squash baked in bacon fat.

So like any good cook, I improvised.

I did follow JofC's tip to peel and dice the raw squash on a folded towel using a serrated blade. Those tough winter squash can be kind of tricky to cut up when raw. But it all came off smooth as buttah.

I put the coarsely diced squash in my trusty pyrex baking pan, drizzled some maple syrup over it, then I followed that with some more maple syrup (maple syrup, yum!). I gave the squash a liberal dousing of freshly ground pepper. Next I laced seven fat slices of smoked bacon around the squash cubes (yeah, seven slices for one squash; don't be so quick to judge--it's a damned miracle that I even have bacon and thus not surprising that I am liberal in its application). Finally, I squeezed 2/3s of a fresh lime over everything.

It took about 55 minutes at 375F for the squash to cook tender. I covered the dish with foil for the last 20 minutes.

The end result was fabulous! Since I didn't add any extra oil, the dish wasn't sloppy or greasy. And the pepper and lime really brightened up the dish, making it feel Caribbean or Asian in influence. Easy to prepare, easy to cook, and as long as you overlook the saturated animal fats, ever so healthy for you!

Let's review the ingredients:
  • maple syrup: organic, comes from a tree, has to be better for you than processed white sugar, and it is so smooth and delicious
  • freshly ground black pepper: if you can flavor chocolate with black pepper, well, you can put this stuff on just about anything (maybe not oatmeal, but even that might be worth an experiment: black pepper and maple syrup oatmeal...yum!)
  • freshly squeezed lime juice: a secret ingredient of many tasty South Asian sauces
  • smoked bacon: the mellow fatty counterpoint to the acidic lime and the sharp pepper and the sweet syrup, bacon can also be used to flavor anything; I knew this bacon was very salty so I added no additional salt to the squash
  • butternut squash: fiber, vitamin A, seasonal, locally grown, side or main dish as you choose--how could you not appreciate the versatile butternut?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Agility in KSA Week 8

This week I had to run the class myself since MH was OOK on a short trip. Since I could observe last week that lots of the dogs had commitment issues with jumps in particular, I had already decided to have them backchain a jump chute this week. That meant that I could pare the equipment list down to something I could manage on my own (although it still took me three trips from car to field). Amazing how quickly I got used to having MH haul half the gear down each week!

I had each team begin with one jump and had the handlers start in different locations--with the dog, at the jump, on the landing side of the jump. And I added a twist--everyone had to throw a toy forward to encourage the dog to drive ahead. We've been working with toys in a haphazard fashion but I figured it was time to increase the training pressure and require every handler to use them.

The handlers were quite interested in my bunny fur tug-n-treat, so a few weeks ago I ordered some of those along with some other fun tugs and toys from Clean Run to sell to them. Imagine the excitement of the dogs, who are just starting to figure out this agility game, when confronted with one of those very high value toys! They were all mad for their new toys! Even Webster, who will drop a toy for food, wouldn't drop his new tug-n-treat bear, no how, no way.

For the dogs who have issues returning toys to their handlers (I am all in favor of a good victory lap but if it happens every single time you throw the toy, all learning is lost), I brought some nylon rope to make tethers for the toys. So now the novice handlers had to manage the dog while not running into the jumps and wrestling with six feet of rope tied to a toy that they have to throw at precisely the moment the dog commits to the jump (too soon and it's a lure, too late and you really aren't rewarding what you want to reward).

After having them work one jump, I set up two, then quickly progressed to three in a row with the handlers working the jumps first off their left, then again off their right. The dogs were sailing! It was fabulous to see how excited everyone was!

Our experiment in training weaves using the 2x2 method took a big leap forward too. We haven't been progressing terribly quickly but this week we did at last make it to the step where you have two sets of 2 poles rotated at 2 and 8 o'clock, set about 10-15 feet apart. I was frustrated at our lack of progress in the weave training and figured that if we could get the handlers used to throwing toys and the dogs used to driving forward that we might be able to get out of our rut. And it worked exactly as I hoped it would! After some warm up on one set of 2 poles, the dogs rapidly progressed to driving forward through two sets of 2 poles with the handlers working both left and right sides.

Running this class has been exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. I see so much talent and promise but with only one class a week and no access to equipment or a space to practice in (like me, some of the participants don't even have yards), our progress is slow. I've had to dial back some of my larger expectations but every week I am amazed at the new skills that the dogs and handlers display.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Agility in KSA Week 7

This week I decided to raise the bar fairly high on our little group of handlers. I set up a sequence using three jumps and a tunnel such that they would be forced to use a lead out and a front cross in order to be successful. MH and I set out cones 1-4 and told them to "walk the course" and figure out what they needed to do.

My goodness, there was much discussion amongst them about what to do, but in the end, to my great pleasure, they did figure out that they needed to do a front cross after the second jump. I gave them some tips and let them walk it again.

I know that many of you in North America look at these photos and think, well, that's kind of a yawn: I've put in this post some pictures of handlers walking a course. How dynamic can that possibly be? But please, do not ever forget that you are seeing pictures of very dedicated dog owners who are giving up their precious weekend mornings to come and do agility...in Saudi Arabia! I get goosebumps watching them each week. If I'm talking about it after I have a couple of glasses of whine, I might even get a tear or two in my eye. This is a huge achievement, an amazing thing we are doing here.

I've said before, I will do anything for my dogs. Turns out MH will too! She's bringing in half the equipment each week and she works her behind off in support of the class. We meet at 5:15 in the morning in the cold dark and manhandle a couple of hundred pounds of equipment and three dogs down a steep path to the soccer field within the school grounds (in the process, we pass through a security gate manned by a guard wearing a very large sidearm). We unload our carts, then put up 12 mesh panels to block off the fence openings (I custom-made the panels to fit the openings; MH figured out this morning how to put them up with only two clips each, saving one of us a trip to town to buy more; you say, pssh, why not just drive to town and get more? well, we can't drive to town, and the expedition to go buy more clips might take 2-3 hours with the various buses and taxis and store closures during prayer times; are you willing to give up one of your evenings after work to do that?). We set up the student part of the course then lay out the remaining equipment around that so that we can goof around with our dogs for a good 45 minutes before class begins.

So without further ado, here are the photos from today's class.


MH goofing with one of her dogs.



More goofing. She probably has some good pictures of me and Mimi. MH and I highly value this time in which we get to work our own dogs, practicing half-remembered handling moves.

Brr!! It was 48F this morning with a stiff northerly wind. For KSA in early December, that's cold!

Walking and discussing. The sequence was jump 1-jump 2-tunnel 3-jump 4. The arrangement forced them to start with the dog on their left, then FC after jump 2 and handle the rest off their right.


More walking and discussing. MH and I didn't intervene for quite a while, just walked around and took pictures! A side story to this photo is that I required everyone taking the class to show up with a crate. There was a fair bit of resistance at first as few people here use crates. But I held firm, holding in the back of my mind this vision of handlers walking a course. That is only possible if your dog is safely stashed in a crate.


More walking. Think this is a dumb picture? This photo was taken at 0650 hours on December 1, 2011, in SAUDI ARABIA!

JH and her elderly terrier mix Aris. Look at that fabulous fluffy tail! He gets quite a bit of air over those bars and can easily jump 4" despite having a bum hip, but we don't want to tire him out. So it's bars on the ground for Aris!


Okay, this week I put in THREE pictures of C and her miniature dachshund Webster, but that is because I managed to get some amazing shots of them and because he's so damned cute! His legs are not even 2" long so he jumps bars on the ground. C has already rewarded him for coming to the correct side of the FC and now she is running the full sequence. Having completed the FC, she is sending him into the tunnel. Look at that inside hand indicating the next obstacle!! Look at her body position!! Seriously, readers, tears in my eyes as I post this!

Sometimes our green dogs need a bit of help at the start line. Rather than train that in class, MH and I just hold them. I took this over Webster's head as his mom C was leading out to the second jump.


It's amazing that I managed to capture this shot. Now we have the handlers running the sequence in reverse--jump-tunnel-jump-jump--but a FC is still required! Diabolical! C is throwing the toy forward over the next jump as Webster is driving forward. Readers: this occurred this morning in SAUDI ARABIA!
 
PM and her lab Nellie heading for the start line.



Reward time! Get that tug! MH in the foreground bundled up because it was cold here this morning!