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How agility is helping one family get through lockdown...
Since the Coronavirus lockdown, agility has become an even more important part of many people's daily lives, and Jane Bradley has found it really helpful as a way of breaking up the monotony of home education. She believes that the fact that the children want to keep their dogs happy, fit and ready for whenever shows start again has meant they are dealing with everything in a positive and proactive way. It gives them a focus beyond school work and the four walls of the house and unlike many other hobbies, there is quite a lot you can achieve with a couple of wings in a small garden! Her daughter Elsie wanted to share some of her thoughts about how agility is helping her to get through this difficult time.
Hello - my name is Elsie.
I am nine and I have been doing dog agility since I was four years old when I started going to watch my mum and big brother train their dogs. I always helped at our Club's shows. Sometimes someone would let me borrow a dog to run, but I really wanted a dog of my own to train.
When I was six, I rehomed Daisy from a lady who didn't want her any more. Daisy was 18 months old and we were her third home. She is a Pomeranian crossed with a Chihuahua and she measures Small.
We started agility training straight away. At first, Daisy was really nervous and didn't like being asked to do anything, but she very quickly started to trust me and now we have a really strong bond. She sleeps in my bedroom and I do everything to take care of her. We both absolutely love agility.
We have worked really hard and in our first summer going to competitions she won into Grade 3 and we got enough points to go to Crufts this March which was amazing.
Qualifying for Crufts was very exciting. It made me really want to train hard and always try my best to help my dog. I was the youngest in the Graduate Agility and I felt really proud knowing my club was supporting me. Being at Crufts was so nice!
I am very competitive with Arlo, my brother, but I always want him to do well because he has worked really hard with Winter. Winter had to have a year off agility with an injury and has been really, really difficult to train, so it is nice when he does well. I'm glad our dogs are different heights though, otherwise I’d always want to beat him! We have four dogs and for our daily exercise we take them on a walk to the field near our house.
I'm teaching my Daisy to do Heelwork to Music when we go out, but without the music! We have even made up our own routine.
Even though it is strange not being at school, I am glad that I get to spend so much time with Daisy, and I hope the next time we go to training they can see a difference because of our hard work at home.
She did a draft of this article entirely on her own and then worked with her Mum to think of ideas on how to pad it out.
She is a member of the Young Kennel Club.
Jane Bradley loved dog agility as a child and trained and competed from the age of 13 with her own dog, an unruly yellow Labrador named Poppy. When she returned to agility as an adult with her own children, she was pleased that they were happy to tag along so so she didn't need to worry about childcare! Of course, very quickly they wanted to join in. Her 18 month old Cocker Spaniel, Winter, was appropriated during their very first lesson by her then 6-year-old son who is now Winter's KC registered owner and a Grade 3 handler.
It didn't take long for Elsie, her then four-year-old daughter, to ask to join in. For a while she was happy to borrow a dog to run occasionally, but she soon became desperate for her own special friend. Like a lot of children, Elsie campaigned to be allowed her own dog, writing us notes and drawing pictures of her dream dog for a solid year! Eventually her parents felt the time was right and Daisy came to live with them. She has been the perfect fit for Elsie - their bond is so strong and they truly are best friends.
First published 15th April 2020
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