PARTNERS IN TIME, a column published every so often by DogTails columnist Reed S. Anact (Column XXI, all rights reserved, comments welcome)
Recently I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview the incomparable Posey and her guardian Lucy. Wow. Posey’s and Lucy’s journey began eight years ago at SF/ACC. Posey, all of 4 weeks old, was in the custody cat room, too small and too young to be kenneled in the puppy room.
|poetry in motion|
Reed: Tell me about the first day you saw Posey and how you wound up taking her home. Did you name her? You were volunteering for Give a Dog a Bone at that time, were you not?
Lucy: Well, I first saw Posey with a shelter employee outside of SF/ACC. I was a GADAB volunteer, coming in for my shift. She was so tiny, her legs looked the size of my finger. Her eyes were blue and she was blinking in the bright sunlight. I was told her name was Posey. I thought she was cute, but went on my way. I had no idea she would become a huge part of my life.
Posey: May I interject? I knew, I just knew that Lucy was the right person for me, I can’t say how I knew, I just did.
Reed: So you took the little American Pit Bull Terrier mix home, and then what? How did your life change?
Lucy: Well, she was so energetic, I suddenly had my hands full keeping her busy. I worked hard to housebreak her, and made sure she got lots of socializing with both people and dogs. Back in those days, we went to the dog park so she could run around, and to tennis courts to throw the ball for exercise. She needed to be taken out for running twice per day
Posey: Boy, did my life change. I was just a baby after all, and looking back to when I was just a puppy, from what I can remember, Lucy had a lot of patience with me – I didn’t know much of anything and I kind of got into everything, well, I tried, but most of the time Lucy let me know what was cool and what was totally uncool. I had to learn a lot. Lucy is a good teacher, and if I may say so, we do teach each other.
Lucy: That’s so key to a good relationship with your dog.
Reed: So you took Posey out twice daily and threw 100 balls for her in an enclosed unused tennis court? That’s amazing to me – she needed that much exercise. Can you comment on that?
Lucy: Posey really settled down after our exercises. I can’t emphasize enough how priceless exercise is. She needed to run her little tail off, pretty much before anything else we did, like manners training, so that’s what we did.
Posey: I plead the fifth.
Reed: So you moved due to work, and is that when you began agility with Posey? What brought you to agility?
Lucy: I actually started agility before I left San Francisco for Seattle. I thought that Posey was a smart dog, and deserved something more than just throwing a tennis ball around, so I started looking online. Agility seemed like the most fun thing to try. I found an agility school close to my home that had a great reputation so I sent them an email and enrolled in a beginner class. That’s how the addiction started.
Reed: I understand that a lot of people like to do agility with their dogs because it’s fun, and then there’s a whole other realm of the agility world: competition agility. I know our readers would like to hear more on that. I hear the words “positive reinforcement” and “the human/animal bond”. Is competition agility a good fit with those two phrases?
Lucy: Absolutely! I think competition agility is a perfect fit! To me, having fun, bonding with your dog, and doing competition agility are all one in the same. I can’t imagine anything more fun to do with my dog! Agility is a timed sport, so both the dog and handler need to be fast, motivated, and enthusiastic. The way you get that is through positive reinforcement and making the obstacles highly rewarding for the dog. When you are able to give clear cues and the dog understands your body language, it strengthens the bond between the two of you. It’s the perfect match for us.
Posey: Totally. Agility is amazing. I love everything about it. My mom and I rock. We just love this.
Reed: Lucy, before I turned the mike on, you used a word with which I am not familiar: the “zoomies”. Can you tell us what that means, especially for you and Posey when you are trialing? Lucy: (laughs) Well, Posey sometimes runs like a crazy dog in circles, especially in cool weather. It’s one of those things, you can’t say what it is, but you know it when you see it. Some people say it’s stress relief, some people say it’s a training issue. I just think that Posey is an active, exuberant dog who enjoys life and sometimes needs to get her ya ya’s out. Before a trial in cool weather I need to run her around a little bit with things like long-distance stays/recalls so that she can focus.
Posey: I literally can’t help it. It feels like, oh, it feels like I’m flying, as if all the joys in the world were compressed into me, actually, and I just burst with the unparalleled energy of it all. It’s sheer ecstasy. Does that sort of explain it?
Reed: That’s quite a description, Posey, you said that very well. Very well indeed. Might I say that I myself would like to experience the “zoomies” sometime! Another question for you both: could you elaborate on the past six years, from starting out to where you are now?
|posey relaxing with her ducky|
Posey: I am the luckiest pit bull in the world. My mom and I are tight. I mean tight. Agility brought a renewed depth to our relationship and it keeps on giving. I LOVE agility, especially the tunnel. Going through the tunnel rocks big-time. Now the weave poles, not my strong suit, but Lucy and I are getting there – it is hard work, tons of practice time, but when you get to do the thing you love most in the world with the person you love most in the world, tell me what could be better than that.
Reed: Looks like we’re almost out of time here, but Lucy, I feel it’s important for our readers to know how deeply you feel about trialing a shelter dog, especially a pit bull. They get such bad press.
|family: posey and hammer|
Posey: My mom is so proud of me. And she shows it too. Boy, does that make me feel mucho mucho bueno, I just can’t tell you. I can roll with the obedience, too, it’s a whole different challenge for us.
Reed: Anything you’d like to add, ladies?
Lucy: The most important thing to me is to enjoy your dog and have fun with what you do. If you do that, everything else will follow.
Posey: She nailed that one. I totally second that.
Reed: Ladies, I can’t thank you enough for giving me this time with both of you. Readers, I’ve learned a lot here with Lucy and Posey, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have. Now, we have a special treat for you. A professional video of Posey and Lucy’s first run at the invitational. For you agility buffs, here’s Lucy’s explanation of why she chose this round (around a minute long):
“I like Round 1 the best, because it's standard and we ran clean. It shows all the obstacles, including teeter, tire, A-frame and dogwalk. Our other two Jumpers runs are clean, but just shows jumps and weaves.” http://www.youtube.com/agilepit#p/u/3/4-11vkmcsWQ
Notice the teamwork these two have and listen for Lucy’s praise to Posey at the end of the run. It’s beautiful.
Lucy: Thank you, Reed.
Reed S. Anact on special assignment