"You want me to learn PLUMBING?!?"
...So, OK, they're really weave plungers. You may be thinking, "Huh??"
As you may already know, dog agility is a fun sport-activity in which amazing dogs navigate through an obstacle course -- racing over jumps, through tunnels, climbing a-frame structures, tip-toeing over teeter-totters and slaloming through weave poles. (If you've never seen it, check out this short YouTube video of a Corgi named Cooper zipping through his agility course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeETnq_zBF0)
Agility is very challenging, and the equipment can be pricey. Plus, and we're kinda lazy here, so we never "jumped" into it formally. But we did want to give our previous dogs Mickey and Callie a taste of the sport. So we picked up an inexpensive kids' tunnel at Toys 'R' Us, and we found online plans for a home-made, easy-to-build adjustable-height jump using about 10 bucks' worth of PVC piping and plumbing clamps from Home Depot. Mickey and Callie really enjoyed their agility play. But I could never come up with a cheap, easy indoor substitute for those slalom weave poles.
Then, with Shelby's arrival, I stumbled across a brilliantly simple solution online: toilet plungers! I found the cheapest plungers I could (above) at Walmart, four for just 10 bucks -- they're actually terrible plungers, but those wide, flat rubber cups make excellent weave-pole bases.
We started with just two, using a bit of food to lead Shelby around them once and then CLICK-TREAT! Shelby got the idea right away, and we quickly progressed to three poles, leading her through two full laps around and through before she gets her CLICK-TREAT!
Shelby has also mastered the jump, but we're keeping the height low since she's only 14 weeks old and her joints and bones are still developing. We haven't tried the tunnel yet, but since she thinks it's a fun game to wriggle out from under a blanket when we drop it on top of her, she'll probably think running through a tunnel is fun, too. We'll have to post some videos here on the blog when we get a chance.
In her first two weeks with us, Shelby has proven herself a super-quick study. She's already learned all of her basic obedience commands, so we're scrambling to think of new and challenging things to teach her so she doesn't get bored. Our motto here at Day-One Dog Training has always been "Start the day your dog comes home!" Shelby is living proof of how much -- and how quickly -- puppies can learn if you do just that.
P.S. Shelby invented her own Zoom-Zoom! game this morning. We'd just come in from a soggy, abbreviated 7:30 AM walk. Then, living up to the performance standards of her namesake Shelby Cobra sports car, she raced 10 laps around the kitchen and living room, cooking up her own obstacle course around the coffee table and crate in the living room, hitting top speed on the straightaway into the kitchen, braking hard to weave through the hairpin turn under the table and through the chair legs, bouncing into her puppy pen and right back out and then doing the whole course over and over. Whew! What a happy way to start the day!!