Could Your Pet Be a Doggy Athlete?

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 11:00am

Guest blog written by Beverly Pietrucha, ASPCA Volunteer Coordinator.

I discovered Agility about 20 years ago when my very young pup, Ginger, and I were taking a series of obedience classes. We signed up for an introductory class—and that was the beginning of the end. Ginger was an absolute natural on the obstacles: up the A-frame, over the dog walk, through the tunnel—all with no hesitation.

“This should be easy,” I thought. Well, was I wrong!

In Agility, dog and handler must work as a team to negotiate obstacles—in their numbered order. Well, sometimes Ginger would have another idea and get the "zoomies," much to the delight of the spectators. Frustrating for the handler? Perhaps. Lots of fun for the dog? You bet!

And so Ginger and I embarked on what would be an almost 15-year Agility journey, and the bond that developed between us cannot be described. When you are negotiating an agility course without a leash, or food or treats in hand you become connected in a way that is very special.

What About Shy Dogs?
Not sure if your dog is up to the task? Two years ago I adopted Charlie, who was very shy and lacking in confidence. I enrolled him in an agility class thinking that would perhaps build his esteem a bit. In that first class, he would barely go over a very low jump. I was told by the instructor that I should forget about doing agility with him. Well, we persevered—and Charlie is now competing.

If you’re interested: Signing up for good training classes with competent instructors is essential, even if you don't want to compete but just want to have a bit of fun with your dog. But be forewarned: Dog Agility can be addictive!

For more information, visit the Dog Sports page.