The Japanese are crackers about agility
In 1994, Mr. Nielsen was invited from Denmark to conduct the very first agility seminar and competition. The history of agility in Japan started from there. Ah so good...until now. Masao (Ujin) Yagyu reports on Japanese agility at the crossroads.
In 1997, the first judge test was held with Mr. Nielsen's attendance, and the first Japanese official judges were selected. Currently, agility competitions are held every weekend during the season in Japan.
Today approximately 300 people are actively involved in competition, while probably another 1,000 people are enjoying the sport in one way or another. The current generation of the competitors is changing from a group of people who enjoy the sport with their dogs to one where they get dogs just for the purpose of competing in the sport.
Breeding for better agility dogs
You also see quite a few Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Shelties. We have far fewer Belgians competing compared to Europe. It is too bad that we do not have many people enjoying the sport with Japanese Dogs. I have not seen an Akita.
When the Croatian team arrived in Finland on Thursday, their dogs were not there! There had been a mix up at Zurich airport and the dogs had been put on a flight back to Croatia. The dogs were looked after by the handlersí families and on Friday they were taken back to the airport in Croatia and sent on the same journey again. They arrived on Friday, having missed the practice day to collect their dogs. Here they are leaving the hotel at the end of the competition (see left).
We particularly enjoyed watching the handling of the French team including Isabelle Deconinck (top right) and Christine Charpantier (bottom right), the 2000 Champion which was wonderful.
The agility in Japan has improved dramatically, partially as a result of the JKC policy to promote the sport by dispatching handlers and dogs to the World Championships. It is not surprising, therefore, that people are predicting it will affect negatively on the development of Japanese agility.
To participate in the World Championships has been a great goal and the dream for many of Japanese agility handlers. Everyone in agility is disturbed by this decision. Furthermore, many of dog trainers, including myself, are really disappointed. We have purchased the whole set of agility equipment, or even suggested that dog owners purchase the equipment for their own use.
In 1996, his assistant represented Japan in the European Championship held in Switzerland , running Ujin's own dog. Then in 1997, he went to the World Championship in Denmark with two dogs. He won the Japanese Championship in 1998, and participated in the World Championship in Slovenia as a Japanese representative.
Last year, Ujin won the Japanese Championship. Unfortunately, he was not able to take part in the World Championship in Helsinki this year so once again, his assistant participated with one of his dogs. Some day he hopes to participate in a competition in UK with his dog.
You can contact Ujin on http://www02.so-net.ne.jp/~ujin
Cartoon dog from Naoko Yoshikawa's web site http://www.dml.com/colon/