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Training in the Tropics

1998 was the year agility arrived for a bunch of dog mad enthusiasts who wanted to do something different - something more fun and active - and to enjoy their time with their dogs. Many of them had read about agility and that set them to thinking, 'Why don't we try that and see?' Little did they know that once they started, agility would soon consume their weekends and their lives. Sue and Adrienne explain about training in a country where it's hot and wet throughout the year.

Fortunately, an Australian friend of ours, Russell was already experienced in demonstration agility and soon built some jumps for us. Well, to put it simply, it looked so easy when we saw agility on video, but guess what, we now realise how much training has to go into it to make it look oh so smooth. So began months of patient training which was not always easy.

Why you ask
Well, the answer to that is lack of grounds, lack of sponsorship, weather, qualified trainers and petty jealousies. Intriguing huh. Scandalous perhaps?! We had a hard time trying to get a field that was fenced in and was big enough for an agility course. Public parks were out because Malaysia is a Muslim country. It was ages before we found a place at an international school which graciously allowed us the use of their beautiful football field for free.

Unfortunately, the owners now want it back and we have to move on to another venue. The only problem now is our container with our equipment. Oh when will it end?! We're looking high and low and hope that someone will be kindhearted and help us out soon.

It isn't easy to get sponsorship here in Malaysia as it mostly goes for the conformation shows. Canine activity in Malaysia is rather limited in comparison to Europe or The States but we try. We managed to come to an arrangement with Petworld magazine, the premier pet magazine in Asia who help us with sponsoring some jumps and with publicity.

We had learnt enough by that time to start up as Petworld Superdogs doing public agility demonstrations. As you can guess, we all had butterflies in our tummies on the night of our first demo, but wow (!) was it great or what when the crowd showed their appreciation. After that we were hooked and started doing lots more demos etc. We were so inspired that we started to do some therapy dog work with charities such as orphanages, handicap centres etc.

Basically we're stuck in hot humid equatorial Malaysia. No four seasons for us. Rather it's blazing hot sun or rain rain rain. We usually do our training in the early evening when it has started to cool down. We sometime do night training at the Chinese Recreation Club which has superb grounds and always draws a big crowd which helps us in our effort to introduce agility to the public.

At present, we don't have any official qualified instructors although we are working on that. We learn from books, videos, people on the internet etc. Whatever we can lay our paws on. It has not been easy, and sometimes it is a little trial and error, but it has turned out really well so far. We have now got proper equipment built to international standards and it's looking good. All we have left to master now are the weaving poles.

Lastly, we had to cope with a lot of petty jealousies from certain quarters that did not want to see us succeed. WHY? You ask me. Maybe it's because they never expected us to do so well in our debut year, and they wanted to do it themselves but could not see past the red tape. The problem is that we don't have an official organisation to manage agility in Malaysia but not to worry, that will be changing very soon and we'll keep you posted.

The People
The core group of agility in Penang are as follows:-

  1. Sue with her hero, the black standard poodle, Adwin.
  2. Adrienne with her macho German Shepherd dog, Hans and her thundering Miniature Schnauzer, Zeus
  3. Hooi Ching with her frisky playful Golden Retriever, Jasper
  4. Russell with his faster than a speeding bullet Doberman, Devil
  5. Peter with his pretty girl Sasha the GSD
  6. Alexis with her blond Adonis, Marco
  7. Dr Jas with her doting shadow, Alicia
  8. Anni and her rescue Pit-bull who would not hurt a fly, Basha
  9. Sanny and his bouncy fun loving Golden Retriever, Tommy

We've had heaps of new converts such as Joanne and Adrian with their silky terrier, Prince, Brian and Ashley with their glamorous Irish setter Jessie, Allan and family with their Maltese and Husky and lots more.

In Conclusion
When we first started we have found heartache and agony amid muffled screams of frustration, but now that we have been doing it for awhile, we are getting the hang of it and the learning curve is getting smoother. We've been lucky to have had international support for what we are trying do, which is to promote the sport of agility and to a certain extent show the public what a great time can be had with their dogs. Responsible ownership is a big thing with us and it's always great to tell people about this new and exciting sport for Malaysia.

Wish us luck.

Sue Yeap, Adwin and MarcoAbout the authors...
Sue Yeap
and Adrienne live Penang, Malaysia where it's blazing hot as Chinese New Year is just around the corner. There is no agility in Malaysia at the moment in Malaysia, but they are part of a group doing agility for fun.

Sue owns a Standard Poodle (Adwin) and a Afghan Hound (Marco) who changed her life. She changed her car because of them. She renovated her house because of them. She even bought a web site because of them!

Adwin is probably the only registered Standard Poodle in Malaysia. His full name is Asian/Malaysian Grand Champion Teliqua Adwin of Rightroyale's (awaiting MKA confirmation). Marco's full name is Calahorra Simply Superior of Rightroyale's. He has just started his show career. Both of them were imported from Australia

Sue is Malaysian of Chinese origin. She lives with her Mum and sister and works full-time as a senior consultant for a company specialising in quality management.

Adreinne and HansAdreinne runs three dogs including a GSD and a Miniature Schnauzer. Luckily her husband Peter has decided to run the female GSD so it's getting easier now.

As Penang is an island, they have a beach house where they usually take the dogs swimming, which is just the perfect antidote to winter.

Feel free to contact them on or visit Sue's web site



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