It was a crisp, wintry morning as I prepared to head to training. I just took Jimmy as I was going on the bus. He’s only been to three sessions so far but is already showing promise. Hopefully my novice skills don’t hold him back!
I gathered up all our bits and pieces – keys, money, phone for me and salami, cheese, squeaky ball and poo bags for Jimmy.
We’re lucky that the bus to Tymon Park passes the house. Dogs are only allowed on if they’re in a carrier. All The Lads know that the carrier means they’re going somewhere exciting, so they will pop themselves in and snooze.
We missed the bus due to jimmy’s ill-timed need for a poo! (Typical!) Luckily, there was one not far behind which is unusual for an Irish Sunday!
We train at Tymon Park with the Working Trials Club of Ireland. Jimmy is in the Beginner’s Class and is halfway through his first six-week block. The trainer, Jane, is so patient and kind (both to dogs and owners). All the dogs absolutely adore her!
We are lucky to have a small class this time round. Besides myself and Jimmy, there is a Samoyed, Maya, and two long-haired German Shepherds, Lady and Ash.
We started working off-lead on week two! Well, Jimmy needs a bit more work on his recall as he ran straight into the Intermediate Class and tried to play with the dogs there. How embarrassing! Still, I have learned that things like that happen to everyone at one point or another.
The others pointed out that Jimmy is carrying a little “holiday weight”!! I had been hoping he was big-fluffed but sadly when I last clipped him, I realised this was wishful thinking. He is indeed a bit tubby…though nothing that a slight decrease in the food rations won’t fix!
Our homework over the Christmas break was to work on our ‘wait’ and ‘leave it’. Both are coming along nicely, though greedy-guts Jimmy does find ‘leave it’ quite a challenge. Considering the Christmas break was almost a month long, the dogs did really well.
Jimmy is surprisingly fast. Jane calls him ‘The Pocket Rocket’! Due to his speed, I had to find a way to reward him while he was ahead of me. I spent the Christmas break working on getting Jimmy interested in a tennis ball by treating him for touching it with his nose. This worked a treat!
The tennis ball is great as I can throw it ahead of Jimmy as he’s jumping the last jump and now he will run and touch the ball and wait for me to come to him with a treat! I was delighted that this worked as it means that Jimmy has a focus at the end of a run, rather than getting distracted and running off.
The other dogs in the class are all big dogs, but the size difference between Ash and jimmy is especially noticeable!
It is quite comical watching Ash squashing himself through the hoop and tunnel! He also barely has to lift his legs to get over the small jumps. Sometimes I wonder what he will think of it all when the jumps are raised to competition height.
That said, Jimmy appears to have heavy-duty springs in his legs as he clears the small jumps with little effort. Once, he even cleared a jump that had accidentally been left at full-height! I couldn’t believe my eyes as I would have considered him to be the least agile of The Lads. It must be laziness not lack of ability that holds him back on our walks.
I was so proud of Jimmy. He had a lot more focus on me and is really getting the hang of things. Jane was saying that he responds very strongly to my body language so I have to work hard to be clear and concise. The slightest drop in my outside shoulder can cause him to veer out away from the obstacle, but similarly I can turn him with little effort. It will be interesting to hone this over the next few classes.
I don’t know about Jimmy, but I always sleep well after training. While I love Sunday mornings, it can be hard work!