Home Is Where the Dog Is by Janet Finsilver

After the introduction to tracking, we went on to agility. In agility competitions dogs go through an obstacle course where they are judged on time and accuracy. The dogs are required to interact with a number of different pieces of equipment such as tunnels, teeter-totters, jumps, and weave poles. Many people don’t have their dogs compete, they do it just for fun. It’s great exercise and mental stimulation for the dog (and the owner!).

We started on a large A-frame, which is two ramps put together in the shape of an A. The dog goes up one side and down the other. Just as in tracking, food plays an important role. To get the dogs started, you put a treat part way up the first section. You continue to put the food on the ramp ahead of the dog, and the dog follows the pieces up and over.

Most dogs were very hesitant and climbed cautiously. Enter Kylie. The first treat went into place and she bolted for it. I barely had time to toss the last treat at the bottom of the second ramp before she was there. She immediately wanted to go back and do it again. Why not? She’d found a new source for food.

Incidentally, she isn’t starving. She gets the recommended amount of food for her size and isn’t skinny. To help her feel full, she also gets almost a cup of cooked green beans with each meal, which, by the way, she loves. Steamed, cold zucchini is a favorite as well. Like I said, a FOODIE.

The tunnels were a breeze for her. Many of the other dogs wouldn’t go in them, so owners had thrown treats in to entice them to enter. Kylie raced in and began barking. I figure she was saying, “Mom! Eureka! I struck it rich!” (We were in California gold country.) It soon became clear she wasn’t interested in coming out. I had to crawl in and get her.

Jumps? No problem! We’ve decided her motto is “Why walk or run when you can fly?” She leaps over bushes and steps.

I figured weaving in and out of a line of poles would be the hardest for her and it was. I have always wondered how they trained dogs to go through them. It turns out the poles can go down flat on the ground. The trainer had me hold Kylie at one end while my husband stood at the other end with treats. All Kylie had to do was run down the center. No problem there. Then we lifted the poles a couple of inches. Again, she ran down the middle with no weaving. The third time we raised them, we began to get into the weave. That wasn’t an automatic “I can do it,” but she improved over a couple of practices. She has a long body, and this will be the most challenging piece for her.

It was a lot of fun, and I plan on continuing with it. If you hear any barking in the background, that’s Kylie saying “Yippee!” and envisioning more treats to come.

There’s a corpse among the chanterelles!

Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson is hosting a cooking class during the Week of the Mushroom festival to attract guests, not drama. But soon after she finishes foraging for an edible mushroom species on sacred Native American land, a local newspaper reporter gets shot dead at the same site. With suspicions spreading like fungi in the quaint Northern Californian community over the culprit’s identity, Kelly and a savvy gang of sleuthing seniors known as the “Silver Sentinels” must uncover the truth about the secluded property before a tricky killer prepares another lethal surprise . . .