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Agility Animation courtesy of Brandy's Website Service and Dog Agility K9 Kartoons!


(Part 1)

This is Jill Arnel with Maggie

The following presentations will give you an overview of Agility from three different prospective; someone who has "dabbled" in Agility, her young son (Part 1) and someone who has taken their dog to the top in this sport (Part 2).

The first presentation is by Jill Arnel and her son Noah Martinson, of Oregon City, OR. Jill also is the owner of Joywood's Geordie for Magadog SE (Senior Earthdog - see Earthdog presentation); the second is by Diane Eatherton.


I realized soon after I was asked to do a presentation on Agility that I could hardly qualify as an "expert." Maggie and I had only dabbled in Agility training, taking a few classes, learning the basics and getting a bit of always-needed exercise. Training in Agility with Maggie was a little like pulling something out of a grab bag. You never knew what you'd get. It could be a moldy lemon or an emerald and diamond ring! Sometimes she'd perform flawlessly; more often she'd behave like the stubborn terrier bitch that she is by boycotting any obstacle she didn't want to do at any given moment. But the truth is, despite all of that, is that Agility is FUN!!!! When Maggie was *on*, she obviously relished every minute of it. She especially enjoyed the tunnels, the jumps and the A-frame.

 A year and a half ago, when my younger son, Noah (who co-owns Maggie with me) was 11 years old, he and Maggie took a beginning Agility class. He wrote about Dog Agility, and he also wrote about his experience training Maggie in Agility. So Diane Eatherton (the REAL Agility expert who will be doing the bulk of this presentation) and I decided, with his permission of course, that we would "hire" Noah as a "guest author." So here is Noah's introduction to Agility:

Agility was invented in 1979 at Cruft's Dog Show in England as entertainment for spectators. Now its purposes are clear: fun for you and your dog, training your dog, increasing your dog's confidence, bonding with your dog as well as providing spectator entertainment.

The object of Agility is to get your dog through a series of obstacles without touching your dog or having your dog get a fault. A fault is given when a dog jumps off the side of an obstacle, touches a jump, crosses a jump incorrectly, or does not step on a contact zone (the yellow-painted area on each end of some obstacles such as the dog walk, teeter and A-frame). Additional faults can be given if the dog refuses an obstacle, leaves the ring, stops working or goes too slowly. A dog can be disqualified if he or she confuses the ring for a giant toilet.

The obstacles included in AKC competitions are: Dog Walk, A-Frame, Teeter, Tunnel, Closed Tunnel (or Chute), Weave Poles, Pause Table, Tire Jump, Broad Jump and High Jump.

Some dog breeds do not do very well in Dog Agility competition because of certain physical traits such as "shoved in" faces that may cause breathing problems. An example is the English Bulldog. Big, fat, lazy dogs would not do well either. Some short-legged dogs such as Basset Hounds might have trouble getting over jumps.

Among the best Agility dogs are poodles, Shelties, Australian Shepherds and many spaniels. Maggie, my Cairn terrier, does really well even though you do not see many Cairn terriers competing. There are always exceptions, although I doubt you will ever see an English Bulldog with the title of Master Agility Dog. They are just too clunky!

This fall I took the Beginning Agility Class given by the Columbia Agility Team, a group of dog enthusiasts who want to promote the sport of Dog Agility. We had practice once a week in a barn in Wilsonville (Oregon). There were several types of dogs: a Weimaraner, a Bullmastiff mix, a Spaniel, two Australian Shepherds, a Sheltie, another Cairn terrier (Maggie's uncle, Sam), a mixed breed, and my Maggie Simpson. The Sheltie did really well because he had the advantage of having all the equipment at home to practice on. He got first place at the competition we had the last day of class. The Spaniel got second place. She did horribly on her first run. She defecated which would have disqualified her had this been a real competition. But she made up for it in the second run. Maggie took third place. Both her runs were about equal. They only counted each dog's best run. Kids handled these top three dogs.

Every day in class, we learned a few new obstacles. Maggie was really inconsistent. Some days she would act like an angel, and other days she acted like a twit, especially when my mom was around because Maggie paid more attention to her than to what she was supposed to do. My mom tried hiding in the rafters of the barn so Maggie wouldn't notice her, but Maggie kept on looking up at the rafters so Mom came back down. The first two obstacles we did were tunnel and jump because they were supposed to be the easiest. Maggie did really well on the tunnel (because she is a terrier) and pretty well on the jump, too. The next obstacles we did were A-Frame, Tire Jump and Pause Table. Maggie did well on all of those. We learned the rest of the obstacles over the next three classes.

It is really important that dogs have at least a little obedience training before they start Agility training because on certain obstacles such as the Pause Table, dogs need to go down on command and remain in that position for five seconds. It also helps you keep your dog under control while you both run the course.

Since its introduction in 1979, Agility has gotten a lot more popular. People have found that Agility is a great way to bond and have fun with their dogs.

-- Noah Martinson

Anyway, Maggie and I have been on "sabbatical" from Agility, but we do have every intention of returning to the sport. I plan to eventually get Geordie started; too, as he has spring-loaded legs and the jumps should be NO PROBLEM AT ALL!

Meanwhile, Diane Eatherton will present the basics of agility as well as her experiences in Agility competition.

Jill Arnel

Disclaimer: Reader may download one copy for personal use, but any further dissemination of the article needs to be with express permission of the author.
Go to PART 2

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