Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover
Looking back at
It was a
year of ups and downs, changes and challenges, wins and some disappointments. When
asked for your surprising success stories, we were inundated with the most
wonderful examples of your achievements - and not necessarily the ones you'd
expect. Not everyone won into Grade 7 or qualified for Crufts but their personal
achievements were nonetheless awesome.
Our Lucky Strike
Clare Arundale Turner
I am feeling very proud of my mum Wendy Arundale, a woman who, up until October 2018, had never run a dog let
alone competed. She had just come with me to shows for something social to do. Then she decided she wanted to try
Agility, booked some 1-2-1 lessons and joined a class with my dog Lucky
(6) with Jacqui Tarn in Barnard Castle.
In less than 12 months, she
the ring winning Grade 1 Jumping, the day before her 62nd birthday.
Strike has not been the easiest of dogs to train as she feels she knows
best and likes to tell you that as she often barks back at you. Now they
have a nice collection of rosettes for their first year competing
Rio was picked up as
a stray and taken to SHAK, a local rescue for abused, mistreated and
neglected dogs that are considered not suitable for rehoming where I was a volunteer. He then spent the next three
years in rescue, constantly being overlooked due to his issues and bad
manners. We built up a rather special bond. In the end, I was probably
his only chance of a home so it was decided I to give him a try and take him home.
At first I kept him a way from other
dogs and people, but after seven months, I decided to give him ago at
Agility as my other dog wasn't really enjoying it. In the beginning we sat away from
other class members and I kept a tight hold of him at all times.
Two and a half years of training later, we entered our first Kennel Club
show at Easter. I was feeling very stressed and Rio wearing his 'give me
space lead' but he went on to win his two first rosettes.
to the end of the 2019 season, and Rio has done 128 runs. He hasn't been the
easiest as he has a very stubborn streak, loves a treat tent and can
easily be distracted, but he has managed to win up to Grade 4 and gained
his Agility Warrant (B) as well as winning the Agility Shield at our
Benji the Border
2019 has been a surprising year
for us. I had one goal which was to reach Grade 4. What we achieved last
year is astounding, and I'm bursting with pride seeing all our rosettes
and trophies laid out!
Benji's been hard work shall we
say. He's my first dog and first attempt at Agility. He's a classic
independent Border Terrier with selective hearing!
I spent the first four years
trying to get him to focus and get his nose off the floor so I never
thought I'd be able to compete with him. Then I did some independent,
fenced shows which got our confidence up to try fenced KC shows. This
year I was persuaded to try some unfenced rings and we did our first
full year at Kennel Club shows. He's still easily distracted but I never
thought we'd be at G5 after a year and a half.
What we actually achieved last
year is going from Grade 3 -5, our Agility Warrant Bronze and Silver, a
clear round in an Olympia qualifier, competing in unfenced rings at big
busy shows, winning the Border Terrier Agility League, qualifying for
The Agility Club Novice Final and finishing in the top 10 for The
Agility Club Medium Grade 3! He may not be the fastest or the most
focused but he tries so hard and he loves it.
But the biggest thing I think
we've achieved this year was to start to have fun running courses and
getting control over those pesky nerves!
Rescue Exceeds Expectations
Minnie is a
rescue dog who came into our lives three years ago through Yvonne Goode
who brought her to the UK from Romania. When she first arrived Minnie
was very timid. While she still has her nervous, star struck moments,
she is increasing in confidence every time we run together!
really has been her year. She is loving her agility and has exceeded all
expectations. She has climbed from Grade 4 to Grade 7 and
2nd in her DARL League category, qualifying her for next year's Final.
she is a little diva on the course. It is definitely
always on her terms!
appreciate that YKC included the 18-24 category but, once I found out, I
decided to submit Minnie’s points, never thinking that she might have
gained enough points to qualify for both the ABC Agility and the 18-24
Jumping, so are over the moon to be attending Crufts in a few weeks time
and are looking forward to enjoying the experience!
could not be more proud of her!
If You Feel
Your Dog Isn’t 100%, Follow Your Gut
large powerful Border Collie, had two full years with without any
agility clear rounds at all. Me, with eight comorbid chronic conditions,
and him, with severe dietary and environmental allergies causing regular
and extended time outs and overall poor condition - we were well and
truly stuck in G2. Over the winter of 2018-19, however, we sorted his
diet and allergens and retrained carefully.
He got his
first agility clear in March of 2019 and, by the end of August, we had
collected over 40 wins and he was comfortably G5 with two Agility
Warrants and a strong 2nd in an Olympia Novice heat. He's now on the
Junior GB Squad with a 12 year old handler!
We may be
unorthodox to watch - me with my uncoordinated body and him with his
semi-uncontrollable speed - but there's a whole iceberg more that you
will never know. He gives me 110% all the time and is proof that you can
come back from ground zero and achieve your own version of success.
In 2019 we
basically overhauled our lives. We moved house, added two new rescue dogs - both entire males
- and I started a new job, changing from every weekend off to 1 on /4
off which does not work well for the agility calendar!
beginning of last year, I really felt that we wouldn't get anywhere. but
Pixel proved me wrong.
He is a complex chap with
reactivity issues. He can be hard work and stubborn, but he took it all in his stride.
He welcomed the new
boys and excelled in Agility. Not only did he win out at UKA but be topped the leader
board at the British Agility Championships all weekend and went on to
win the Novice Final. He also qualified for The Agility Club
Finals, Agria Agility Finals, got his Agility Warrant Bronze,
had his name in The Voice and went clear in an Olympia qualifier.
He has not
been easy, but he loves agility. And I love that he loves it. I love how
our bond has grown thanks to it. I love the friends I've made and the
dogs I've met because of it.
Merlin the Magician
I fell in
love with Merlin's gorgeous little face on the spot when I saw him on
the Agilitynet Rescue & Rehoming page. I sent an email to Dogs Trust
Bridgend not holding out much hope as he had been on there a couple of
weeks. They had people coming to look at him that weekend, but they said
I could come down and bring Bonnie and Mae. Then catastrophe struck. My
car broke down and couldn't be fixed until after the weekend. I posted a
frantic plea on FB for a lift and Sarah Williams, an agility friend,
saved the day so we could go. I'm not sure why I was the lucky one to get Merlin, but I count
my blessings every day.
For most of
2019, we entered Anysize at Kennel Club shows although we did a few SC at UKA. He has
gained so much confidence around the rings despite his nervousness with
all these bonkers collies near him. He has such fun and brings so much
joy - mainly for the judges and spectators as they watch a goofball
flying around the ring, not necessarily taking the jumps in the right
of the year was a Judge's Special. I thought these were usually reserved for
handlers 45 years younger than me but the Judge Elizabeth Saggers
obviously recognised that Merlin is a very 'special' dog. Another
classic moment was when judge Paula Zupkus was caught on camera trying to stop laughing
as we attempted her course.
By the end of
the season, however, a ray of hope appeared. I would rather have my boy
continue to have fun and just be the dog he is meant to be than reach
the higher grades but who knows. We shall see!
what it should be with Merlin - just me and my dog having a whale of a
Never Too Small
surprised a lot of people in 2019 by reaching Grade 7 at just three years
old. We were constantly told she was too small, wouldn't be good enough,
wouldn't be able to keep up and that she'd never get anywhere. She
proved a lot of people wrong. It doesn't matter how big you are, what
matters is the fire to do it!
She is the
most fun to train and compete with, She isn't always perfect, sometimes
she chooses to freestyle but she makes me laugh so much. I absolutely love
running together and can't wait to see what happens in 2020.
Bradley children - Arlo (13) and Elsie (9) - have done all of the
training themselves. Their mother says that at times it’s all a bit
shambolic, but they have great fun!
Winter have had a long, hard slog in their agility career. As an
inexperienced, first-time handler who started training his dog when he
was just six years old running an insecure, sniffy young Spaniel, it meant
lots and lots of Es, frustration and tears. Winter also
had a year out for major cruciate repair.
We were all
overjoyed when he and Arlo finally won into Grade 2 at the Longfield
Easter show in 2019. They've had a great season and Winter is loving his
thought Daisy, a quirky little rescue, would tolerate agility training.
Asking for a sit was sometimes considered an imposition, but it turns
out she would do absolutely anything for her small human companion,
had a really successful first season, winning into Grade 3 and
qualifying for Crufts 2020. It can still be a bit hit 'n miss as Daisy
definitely has a mind of her own, but when she’s feeling cooperative,
A huge thanks
to everyone who has helped them on their journey especially their
friends at Cleveland Agility Training.
Shortest Legs on the Circuit?
Miniature Dachshund Herbie Sausage only has tiny legs - all 227mm of
Dachshunds are not known for their trainability and I've never seen
any other dachshunds at KC or UKA shows so I was delighted when he
qualified for the UKA Grand Finals and came 3rd in the Dogeria
Performance Challenge! He was one of the tiniest dogs there and he still got on the
also won The Agility Club Starters Qualifier and came 4th in the
Agility Starters Challenge Final.
gone from Grade 1 to Grade 4 this year and gained his Agility Warrant Bronze as well!
Merry Mutts Make Good
Labrador Tilly and Lab X Cocker Summer can both be very challenging to run at times.
(6 1/2 years) has only just settled down when competing. Up until this
year, almost every run we did ended as an E because it was always more exciting for
her to do her own thing. Tunnels are her favourite, and it was impossible
to pull her back from the lure of them. This year we achieved that.
3/4 years) is
a different kettle of fish. Either she starts an agility run full of
enthusiasm or can't be bothered. This year I put her on a diet where
she lost 3kg and that has made a huge difference to her enthusiasm and
speed. So much so that for the first time we are getting Es because she
goes too fast for me.
year at the annual Merry Mutts DTC Christmas do, I was delighted that Tilly won best Grade 4
dog in the club and Summer won best Grade 3 dog. They both got a lovely
rosette and a diamond trophy. I couldn't be happier.
Complex Collie Makes Good
A little while
ago I wrote a piece for Agilitynet about my Collie
Kodi who has
a big issue with confidence. Basically she has an overdeveloped 'flight' instinct
which means that, if she losses her confidence,
she will run away. Last year I couldn't even get her into our training venue without her
freaking out, tail between her legs and wanting to escape.
later part of 2018, I decided I had to do something. I made some big
changes in her training. Over the winter I took her to shows without running her to
try and desensitise her. She seemed to improve so I decided to enter
her into competition in 2019.
2019 show was at Easter. To tell you the truth my heart was in my mouth. She
only went and got a clear round. I literally couldn't believe it. Not
only did she go clear, she ended up with a place. I then entered more
We did 14
shows and got 13 places and a few unplaced clears and she even
qualified for Dog Vegas Final. When she knew I was confident, she was confident.
been so pleased that we've had such an amazing season. Anyone who
knows her says that she is a different dog now, full of
confidence, all In the space of a year. That's all come down to time, love
Will's Special Spaniels
surprising success this year was when our 13 year old son Will won the Medium
Reserve Ticket at the Bretford Champ Show with his first agility dog,
Being a show Cocker Spaniel,
Aston is not the fastest, but he is a talented and
spirited boy. He also achieved overall 2nd place in the Team GB
international Tour at Prestbury Park, only being beaten by Rudi, Will's
proud of Will and his special spaniels.
Tetley's Tunnel Terrors
Mary Ann Nester
My dog Tetley hates the tunnel. I've been training dogs for nearly 40 years
and tunnel avoidance was the last thing I expected to find in my
Miniature Poodle pup. It is the one obstacle that everyone assumes a dog
will love. Tetley does not.
are some agility handlers who believe that the tunnel is gifted with
unearthly powers so that it can draw a dog into its maw no matter where
it is on the course. Usually, the tunnel is synonymous with fun so it's
no surprise that many instructors rely on the its magnetism to
reward a dog in an exercise and to help build confidence and speed. The
problem is generally keeping the dog out of the tunnel.
so with Tetley. She would rather visit the vet than go into a tunnel and
has had a number of strategies to avoid it by either stopping dead at
the entrance, diverting to the side to miss it or, her all-time
favourite, leaping on top of it and running across its length. A
rewarding obstacle? Only if you do it her way. I don't know why the tunnel
repels rather than attracts her, but I do know that her training would
be a great deal easier if she could be sucked in rather than spewed out!
It has taken a full year to convince Tetley
that the tunnel is her friend. I'm amazed at how she can now handle a
variety of entries and exits. It may not be winning a class or
qualifying for a Final, but it's a big, big step for her and I couldn't
be more proud!
Antonia De Bearn
Lizzie and I started our Agility story in
2014 when we joined Watford AC. Lizzie, a very energetic JRT,
immediately loved the running and mental stimulation. At the time, I
very involved with horses and organising dressage competitions so did
not think I would ever compete. How wrong was I!
When the equestrian centre I was working
for closed in 2015, it was time to concentrate on competing with Lizzie.
Agility was good but she had no interest in the weaves at the time so we
turned our paws to Flyball and had a successful and very enjoyable season
with the Hotshot Flyball Team.
Bad luck then struck and Lizzie was injured.
It was nearly a year before the specialist ruled her fit to
start Agility again! When we did, the agility bug really caught up
with us ! In 2019, we progressed from Grade 1 to Grade 4 ! We got our
Agility Warrant Silver and were runners up in the Small Grade 1
division of the The
Agility Club League and 3rd in the 2019 Senior Agility Small Ruby
League as well as 2019 Novice Champion for our club.
Others may not have been surprised about
our progression but 2019 was very special to me as a novice
handler. I did not want to let Lizzie down especially after she
recovered from her injuries. I feel we have achieved a lot. Credit to
our trainer who has kept up pushing us. I am so so proud of
Lizzie and our journey!
Shy Girl Makes Good
Milly was bred by a gamekeeper. She was
meant to be a
gundog but, right from the start, everyone could see she was so
different from the other puppies in the litter, so he decided to keep her
so he could find her a special home.
When I went to see the puppy I had picked
from the litter, my Mum and Dad came with me. They saw Milly, sitting on her own,
and instantly fell in love with her. Despite the fact that they were in
their 80s and a Sprocker was not an ideal dog for them, somehow they persuaded
the breeder that they were the right home for her. They took her home where she
grew in confidence but still would not talk to strangers or other dogs.
After a year, I started Agility with my
puppy Dot. I don't know why but I just felt that Milly might just like
to have a go as well. She loved it, but she was still painfully shy and
wouldn't go near anyone. No one could touch her training ball apart from
me or help her with her contacts. I spent months walking her around at
shows to get her used to the atmosphere. It took her four months to go
into an indoor barn.
After a while, I entered her into her first
class where I asked the nice judge if she could just walk into the ring, sit at
the first jump and then walk out which the judge allowed. Then the magic
began. Milly jumped the first jump. The Judge said to
let her go and enjoy it. She ran like mad and came through the finish
line with just 5
Last year was amazing. I took every show
slowly and never rushed her. In the queue, I ask people to give her space. Milly is
now talking to ring party and even a judge. She is getting
braver at every show and, while
she will never win on speed, she nearly always goes clear. She has won
three 1st this year and is nearly always placed. Bit by Bit, she is
showing everyone what nervy, shy little dog can do.
My Two Surprises
Brown dog Rub a Dub Tub is a four year old stray from Spain. 2019 was
Tub's first full year competing in Grade 7 and he was still very
competitive. Not bad for a poor stray due to be PTS as no one wanted
Black dog Basileas Super Mini Cooper and I had our first year competing.
Together we won 63 x 1st places! At only two years old, Cooper has
qualified for lots of finals including Crufts and he won the Lincoln
Agility Enthusiasts Novice Cup. He was one of 13 puppies!
What a Gem!
Gem is my 2 1/2 year old Collie X
from Many Tears. At her six month vet check up, she was diagnosed with a
grade 1 luxtating patella. We didn't think she would ever be able to
compete in Agility.
Lots of physio work and muscle building
exercises enabled her to start competing in January 2019 and wow, what a
year it was. We've had 39 x 1st places , 12 x 2nds, 12 x 3rds, 3 x 4th, 1 x 7th
and four clears. In addition, she also made three finals - DINS Final
Runner up, SWAG Finals and Team Tournament Finals and she got a podium
place (3rd) in British Agility Championships. She's gone from Grade 2 to
one win away from Grade 5.
So proud of her and can't wait to see what
2020 has in store for us.
Five years ago I decided to retire Benji,
my 12 year old Battersea rescue from competition as he was clearly
unhappy jumping full height Small jumps. Thanks to the introduction
of LHO and a long break from competition, however, he's has had his best
to my work commitments, we were only able to attend a limited number of
shows in 2019. In six shows, he had eight KC wins, taking him from Grade 5 to Grade 7.
I never in a million years thought he'd reach Grade 7 - and certainly not
at 12 years old!
Benji will be doing Anysize classes next year so that
he can continue to enjoy agility at the smaller height until he retires.
I just wanted to thank those who campaigned for the LHO. We are sad to
see it go!
(formerly aka Bad Black Dog)
Jet started training it was a real rollercoaster, but I am finally
enjoying the ride. It's been very
hard to get her to focus on me and Agility. She simply adores other
dogs. One of our clubs has two
classes at the same time so there were frequent cries of 'Incoming!'
from the trainer at the other end.
Shows came next.
probably helped but she could ping over the fence and back
again. She could do a 180 degree turn from the start line to visit the
queue, a trade stand or back to the van if it was raining. I often felt
like giving up, but there was lots of laughter among the swearing.
lovely to be able to compete in Grade 2 and gradually the clear rounds
and places started to come. She even won into Grade 3 early in August. She
worked very well at Dogs in Need but still bogged off at times. She
actually qualified for the Grade 2 Final. Her commentary card said Jet
aka bad black dog.
Since then she has had amazing results including
places on her first Grade 3 show. She has even speeded up and is mostly
reliable. She is such a character and makes me and others laugh,
especially when she lies upside down in the queue. I am very glad that I have
my scruffy black, rescue mutt and that I didn't give up with her.
So Chuffed with My Little Girl
started Agility nearly eight years ago, Millie was always one of those dogs that
would spin and bite. But, with
perseverance, she did me proud this year. We did three Jumping Jack
competitions and came away with clear rounds in two out of four events
each competition. Then we did a friendly event in November and got our
first ever 2nd place.
What Can I Say about
Obi is my first agility dog and we
have been competing for two years now. Although he is amazing and can
hold his own with some of the higher grade dogs at training, you just
wouldn't think it is the same dog at competitions. He's too nosey, too
busy showing off his good looks and making sure everyone is watching
him. I blame the fact he is from show stock. And he's a weave worrier.
We also struggled with the easier Grade 1 courses as I battled to keep
his concentration on straight lines. He obviously thought he could do it
in his sleep!
We had clear Jumping wins and loads
of Agility wins with faults but that clear Agility round win eluded us.
So many times I thought about packing competing in. Thankfully, due to
my amazing trainers and agility family, we continued until finally, at a
Hare 'n' Hound show, we struck gold - a clear Agility run.
was a long wait for the results but yes, eventually we had that win to
take us to Grade 2. Happy days.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, Obi
went clear at his first Grade 2 show and won both Agility classes -
graded & combined- to go Grade 3. I never thought my little handsome,
headstrong but sometimes infuriating boy would get there, but we did.
So so proud of him and thank you
everyone who boosted our confidence when I was on a down. Fingers
crossed for 2020.
First published 29th January