Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breaking the nose barrier

Beagle noses are special things. They elicit from me all kinds of emotions and feelings.

Appreciation: Known fact – the most important part of the beagle is the nose. The nose is how they get their work done ... the work they were created to do. If I am to love a beagle, which I do, I am to love the nose – for better or worse. Besides that, the beagle nose has plenty of aesthetic appeal – ridiculously large and wet poised at the end of a kissable snout. What's not to appreciate?

Wonder: Many, many times I've stopped in my tracks to watch the beagles on a sniffing frenzy. What are they experiencing? From watching various dog programs on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, I've learned they don't smell a "stew" of smells at once, rather they discern one scent from the next from the next all at the same time. That's something us humans just don't experience. So I watch them and imagine what it must be like.

Joy: Mark and I have used the noses in countless games of hide-and-seek, jumping, weaving, and all sorts of fun training. It binds us and bonds us. Oh, and those noses love to work and play for treats.

Finally, not to finish on a negative note, but it cannot be denied ...

Frustration: It's true, the nose can tend to take over at times when I, the human who paid for that agility class and really would like to get the most out of it, just doesn't appreciate.


Marvin and I started our second 8-week session of intermediate agility last week and, in all fairness, no one can expect the first class to go all that smoothly. New dogs, new people, new smells to become familiar with. By the second week of a new session you can expect things have calmed down a bit and it's back to having fun running the courses.

Apparently I've lost my charm or my treats have become boring as the last two weeks of class have been punctuated by Marvin snouting before, during, and after each of our runs. Remember those videos I posted mid-January? I feel we've gone backwards in the focus department since then. Granted, a beginners session which takes place just before our class also started. Those beginners drop a whole lot of treats and Marvin makes it his personal mission to clean the floor. Thank you class-before-ours – you've provided me with a new challenge! I know, I should be grateful for the "opportunity", but I really just wish they'd clean up their act!

Honestly, I blame myself for this blip on our agility screen. We haven't been doing nearly as much focus work outside of class as we did in the warmer months (seriously, our snow and negative temps are not giving us a break). Nor have I switched my choice of treats. And last night when the sniffing started during our runs, occasionally I stopped trying to get his attention and found myself watching him do what he was doing. That is until I remembered I was in a class, wasting people's time.

So we've got some work to do, Marvin and I. Which really just translates to a chance to spend more time together and build our relationship. If only the weather wasn't making me so LAZY lately!

In many ways I do think Marvin and I make a great agility team.

Even better if I could just break the nose barrier.


Blogger Gussie said...

Know what you mean about the treats on the floor syndrome - Jake jumped right off the top of the A frame on Sunday for that very reason ... argh. Luckily no harm done.

Don't beat your self up too much about having an off day on the first class back - by next time I bet Marvin has much more focus.

February 12, 2008 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger snoutbeagle said...

Thank you for the kind words, Gussie. But last night *was* our second night back and he was still snouting!

Wow, Jake jumped off the top of the A-frame, ouch! Marvin also hopped up on top of the tunnel last night. We all had a good laugh.

Those dogs – they keep us on our toes!

February 12, 2008 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Patience-please said...

Winter just takes everyone off their game, I swear. (Except basketball players and skiers, I suppose!)
Westminster was so exciting!!! I thought of you!


February 13, 2008 at 7:57 AM  

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