Agility handlers share their personal triumphs
and disasters - hopefully not too many of those - with you. If you would like to add your
special memories to this page, send your story and photos via an email to
by Evelyn Price
I was recently asked to write a few words on 'winning out' so here goes. This
is the story of how I got to be an Advanced handler.
I started agility 1991 with a crossbreed called Honey. She was fast enough for me at that
stage, and we came second a few times in agility, but not jumping. We didn't do jumping! As I'm
also into Obedience, it's not surprising that I liked the control factor as well as the blast.
Alas as Honey was very nervous - collapsible tunnels, no way. She'd rather run out of the ring
and queue up for a hot dog!
Then I had a beautiful red and white thrown at me. It had been my dream to own a red and
white collie. KC was a nice fast, steady dog who couldn't just win Starters. He went right on
to win two Novices and go straight to Senior, He did win NCDL final though, but his speed was
more down to his shape, and at five I resigned myself that it was cruel to let him carry on as
it was starting to give him a bad back. So there here i was won out of Starters and Novice with
a nice steady dog.
Next I got a new puppy - just a little farm dog to keep me going. Boy, I didn't know what I'd
got, no way! He's so very fast. I should have called him Einstein. We're a good team - he loves
to work and I love to work dogs. it's taken us a long time what with injuries and with learning
how to control his speed - is speed came pole knocking, but my ultimate dream is now fulfilled,
we're Advanced. I would dearly loved to have done it with my KC, but it not to be, so Buzz has
done it for me.
The only thing that makes me want to be a Starter again is the constant
moaning and groaning among the lower classes where people seem to think they're the only ones
to have any fun. Agility is fun. It's a partnership between dog and handler. When we get a
puppy, we don't know what it's going to be like. You can only do your best. If your dog is fast
enough and clever enough, you'll go Advanced. If it isn't, you'll run your dog in whatever
class suits it's speed. There's no point in climbing the ladder, then giving up because the dog
struggles in that class, never to get a rosette again. You don't get clear round rosettes in
Senior or Advanced, so please stop moaning at the so-called top handlers and enjoy your own
dogs. It's not our fault; it's just the way it works. All I can say is you get out what you put
in and I know that I give my dogs a lot and they return the favour. We all have fun. Thanks
HONEY KC BUZZ
Bad news for you moaners
I've got a rescue and boy does he think life's a ball so if you hear me screaming and
shouting at him in the ring - and even taking him out when he's being so naughty there's no
point in continuing - just remember I'd rather drag my dog out, than drag it in. What fun is
that? Moaning over. Got a big semi final date Monday week. Fingers crossed for Buzz and hope he
doesn't cross his legs. And yes, qualify or not, it'll be FUN.
My Rescue Champion
by Carol Hughes
nine years ago, I took on a tiny scrap of a dog from Valgrayís Border Collie Rescue. I
immediately fell in love with her - she was a cross between a Collie and a Labrador, but only
measured about 13 inches in height. I named her Valgrayís Mini Mouse, but called her Chocki, as
she looked like a lump of chocolate!
I started to train her for agility,
which was quite different at first as I had only standard dogs before her. You never really
know their full potential at the beginning, but as a few seasons had gone she went from
strength to strength. Chocki has qualified for Crufts for six years running and has been to
Olympia twice. She has also won four Pedigree Classics at Dogs In Need, plus well over one
hundred first places in her career to date.
When the Championship was first
discussed, I have got to be honest and say that I wasnít bothered one way or the other, but
having a dog that was eligible; of course I wanted to have a go. At the first one we competed
in, at The Agility Club Show in June 2001, we were eliminated in the first agility round, so
were out of contention. The second was at Rugby in July, where she won both the Agility and
Jumping rounds to enable her to compete in the final round, which Chocki also won, thus gaining
her first CC.
done that, we realised that we might have a chance to accumulate three to become a Champion. We
competed in our third Championship class at Chippenham in November, gaining a Reserve CC.
We received an invite from the Kennel
Club to compete in the Championship class at Crufts in March 2002, which was a very exciting
and unexpected prospect. Peter Lewis was the judge and put up two very testing courses on
Friday morning, in which Chocki went clear in both, so it meant that we could compete in the
final, in the Main Ring later that day. Another slightly testing course was set up, but not
quite as difficult as the morningís. Well, she managed to pull out all the stops and win.
Chocki became the first ever UK Mini Agility Champion.
I find it very hard to explain the
feeling Ė I am so proud of her, and to me she can never better what she has achieved. It just
goes to show what a rescue dog can do, given the chance.
Lassie from Battersea
by Glenda Cutler
all started a couple of summers ago at one of the agility shows when Glenda Cutler attended
with her two dogs Jennie and Sam. She was discussing the possibility of extending my pack
to three with some friends and they convinced me to look for a rescue dog.
When I look at Cassie and remember that conversation that took place on that sunny day, I am so
pleased. My friends would be proud of me. As I was unable to get a additional dog until the end
of that year, due to a holiday abroad, it gave me plenty of time to make the necessary
enquires. One of those enquires was to Battersea Dogs Home. I specifically wanted a bitch
Border Collie, and she had to be a merle under a year old and I was prepared to wait. I know it
sounds fussy, but I believe that when you take on a dog it is for life, and I knew somewhere
out there would be the dog for me. How right I was!
few weeks before Christmas 2000, Ali Taylor from Battersea phoned me. Yes, they had the ideal
dog for me. A blue merle bitch, about one year old with an outgoing personality, just the right
dog for agility. She had been brought in as a stray.
I went to see Cassie and it was love at first sight. As Cassie had the dreaded Battersea Kennel
Cough it was another three weeks before she could come home, but having two other dogs I was
not taking any chances with their health! She finally came home about two days before
Christmas. We had planned to spend a quiet Christmas at home, but with three collies all
romping around together it was, in fact, far from quiet but happy. All three dogs hit if off
immediately, the girls are very much alike and have been mistaken for siblings. (I have a red
merle Border Collie as well). Cassie settled in immediately Ė she is now top dog, and accepted
as that by the others. When I see Cassie running and playing with the others as only Border
Collies do, I feel that we were meant for each other. Aahh I hear you say...
agility training started about three months later and now, one year on, she is ready to
compete. She is far from perfect, it has been a challenge and hard work to train her, we have
had our ups and downs but I do not regret one moment of it. When I look at her now and what she
can do there is no comparison to what she was like a year ago. I know she will be good. I have
faith in her, and one day she will prove me right. In the meantime, I am having great fun
getting there. If the day ever comes when she will be good enough to go in the Battersea Team
for the Rescue Dog Agility at Crufts, I will be the proudest mum around.
heelwork to music training started about the same time as the agility. Cassie can now twist,
twirl, roll over, shake hand and loves every minute of it. This is something I do with the
girls to keep them on their toes and mentally stimulated. One day I will compete with Cassie
and we can dance together but, until then, we will enjoy learning.
thank my friends who convinced me to adopt a rescue. I thank Battersea for letting me have this
wonderful girl. It has not been easy, there have been problems, but we have learnt a lot
together and the pleasure and rewards far outweigh any disadvantages.
Lastly, I thank Cassie for just being Cassie.
Winning Out of Starters
by Jenny Lovegrove
2 March 2002 is a day that will live in Jenny Lovegrove's memory forever. It happened in
Starters Agility at the Mid-Downs Show and she still finds it hard to believe it really
happened except that coveted trophy - a lovely silver photo frame as well as a red
rosette, congratulation cards etc. remind her otherwise.
After experiencing a few years of agility with my beloved Spaniel X Benson (Blueberry Bensie
Babes) who is now more or less retired-was a steady and consistent little dog and lovely to
work, but I knew he would never be fast enough to win although he was placed many times and we
got countless clear round rosettes.
Along came Razz
Flicras Razzamatazz is son of Brian and Joyce Hazellís Border Collie called Lady who is a
lovely girl-and fast! As Razz started to progress with his training, I thought, Well, I wanted
a fast dog and 'by The heck'
Iíve got one!! I knew I was in for a lot of hard work, and at one time nearly gave up as Razz
would not only do his set exercise in lessons but joined in everyone elseís. l struggled to
gain control but Kathrin Tasker soon had him sorted for which I was so grateful.
started to get a few places in competition, and last year won out of Elementary with a second.
Even so, I Knew we still hadnít 'gelled' - my fault, not his. But with further the help and
encouragement of people at Wallingford DTC and also training days with Dennis Macaulay and
Sarah-Jayne Davies, we improved a lot. Thanks guys.
When I walked the lovely flowing courses set by Dennis M. and Sue
Culmer at Mid Downs, I thought then that I must give it my best shot. In Dennis Mís Novice
Jumping - Part 4, we did a fast time but with five faults. Still I was pleased with Razz as he
worked really well.
then went to watch Sueís S/A course and saw where we could get caught out. On the start line I
said to myself itís sÖ or bust. I told Razz to wait so I could call him over the first jump and
make sure he got the UP contact on the dog walk, I then 'worked' him over every obstacle and
yelled at him for the turns to the seesaw and A-frame on the way back, then from the A-frame
into the weaves and a jump to finish. I knew we had got a fast clear and then was told I was in
Then, of course, itís the dreaded wait until the call went out that the class was now closed.
My daughter Karen and good mate Becky kept had to keep checking to see if I had kept my lead as
I couldnít!! Then came the presentation with friends and family without support I couldnít have
done it. A big cheer went up when I collected the red rosette and trophy, still not believing I
had won. Friends who have won out of Starters and gone on to other wins have told me that the
starters win is the best, and Iím certain they are right.
My grateful thanks go to Mid Downs and all the other clubs that
also organise shows. Your hard work is greatly appreciated.
Also thanks to the judges and ring parties for without you, agility would be the poorer.
Mencap Charity Cycle Challenge
by Nick Jones
Costa Rica, 14 - 24th
2001, agility competitor Nick (Nicola) Jones completed the trip of a lifetime and in doing so
raised £2,500 for Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities. She decided to
undertake this challenge started after seeing a poster in February 2000 which explained the
purpose of the fund-raising and was determined to try to raise the money for them.
However, it turned out to be much more of a personal challenge for her!
somebody had told me twelve months ago that I would cycle across Central America in just eight
days and enjoy it, Iíd have called them a liar. I completed that trip last week and yes,
I did enjoy it.
strangers became friends
Forty-eight people from all walks of life united in a common purpose - crossing a continent and
in the process raising approximately £164,000 for Mencap. How good did we feel?!!
Itís hard to describe the mixture of emotions we experienced as we stepped into the Caribbean
Sea, having been paddling in the Pacific Ocean just over a week before - elation, relief, joy,
pride & humility. Nobody had expected to feel humble but we did, for in our group was Ellen, a
lady from Oxfordshire who completed the challenge on the back of a tandem. Why on a tandem? -
Ellen is blind. This challenge was hard enough for an able-bodied person but Ellen
tackled it with such gusto that she was as an inspiration to the rest of us.
Several people overcame real fear - how many people would get back on a bike after a horrific
accident the day before? Or carry on white water rafting after being trapped underwater? With
the support of the group these people did carry on and, again, left the rest of us in awe.
trip was a tremendous leveller - lawyers next to delivery boys, English Professors alongside
mechanics, medics and housewives. We met as strangers and will probably remain friends for
life. I had hoped for the trip of a lifetime, I got a whole lot more.
picked Costa Rica for the country and the wildlife, but my memories are full of the people I
travelled with as the trip became about our goal and ourselves as individuals and as a team,
not a small country in Central America. We went on an emotional & physical roller coaster and
all came away smiling, many of us with the intention of completing another charity challenge.
What did I enjoy most about the trip?
Apart from the mud and rain, the laughs and tears, we all had as we
worked through one of the most exciting, exhilarating and hard challenges we are ever likely to
face will stay fresh in my mind for ever!
anyone thinking about completing something like this Ė go ahead and do it. You will achieve
things you never thought possible and go through what you imagine to be insurmountable
The added bonus? - a worthy charity benefits a huge amount from
your efforts. (21/03/02)