Follis, Jr. & Gizmo
It was two years ago that we began training and about 16 months ago, Gizmo and I started competing. When we first started agility one of the judges told us about the Junior Handler program and the scholarship opportunities that are available through AKC. Now that Gizmo and I are in Excellent B, we are working towards getting to the national championship. We also do agility demonstrations for the humane society, the APA, scout troops and other groups.
Agility is a very challenging and exciting sport for both the handler and the dog. The people are nice and always ready to answer my questions. I have made many new friends here in St. Louis and around the Midwest. Recently, Gizmo and I started herding which is also a lot fun and sometimes adventurous (I understand now why people say to wear boots while working with sheep). I decided to try herding because she is always trying to herd squirrels, rabbits and people. After finishing eighth grade, I will be attending St. John Vianney High School and would like to go to West Point Military Academy for college. Owning a Border Collie has impacted our entire family and we look forward to attending our first Border Collie National in October.
McIntyre & Husker
However, after about 1 ½ years of training, for both Husker and me, we were ready to enter our first trial. During that time I probably needed as much as help as little Husker! I entered class after class, to improve my handling, and went to seminars when they were offered. In that time Husker morphed from a slow, unmotivated dog to a very accurate one who loved to run agility.
At our fourth day of trialling we had both our novice jumpers and novice standard agility titles. Soon after came our open titles, and within a year of our first trial we had our AX and AXJ.
This isn't to say agility is my only hobby. I take piano and bassoon lessons, play in the school band, and in a local youth orchestra. As you agility enthusiasts know it's quite easy to get addicted, and find yourself wanting to enter every trial in the tri-state area. However, as you also know, school makes this impossible. This year was my first year of high school, so I had a lot more and harder work than I was used to. To balance agility and school and to keep up grades, I leave at least one weekend totally free a month, especially if I know exams or other important tests are coming up, and I usually just enter one day of the trial. This gives me either a Saturday or Sunday to do homework and hang out with friends. I also take the summer off, and two to three months in winter. I still take classes every week (I'm actually training two dogs now), but I make it a priority to get homework done early those nights.
Although I unfortunately cannot devote all my time to agility, I feel Husker has done a remarkable job. He is one in nine PBGV's in the country to achieve the AX title. Currently we are working on our MX, which only five PBGV's have acquired.
I would like to thank all my wonderful instructors at A Click Above in Leesburg, VA who have always supported Husker and me, even in our lesser agility days. I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am if weren't for them. I always am continuing to learn in agility: about dogs, patience, hard work, perseverance, and friendship.
My advice to junior handlers is to balance dogs and your school and social life, work hard, and don't let people look down on you because you are young.
Varhalla & Chime
The person who got me started in training and showing dogs was my Mom. I loved going to shows with her and watch her run the agility courses with our other Shetland Sheepdog, Holly. When I was nine years old, my Mom and Dad decided it was time for me to have my own dog to train and show. I started training Chime at six months old. We trained together really hard. We showed in our first show on August 31, 2001 when Chime was eight months old. We got second place in breed.
In 2003, we earned our Jr. Showmanship Novice Title, Canine Good Citizen, both Standard and Jumper Novice and Open Agility titles. Chime also earned her Therapy Dog title. We were only one leg away from earning our Excellent Standard title in the same year.
We earned our Excellent Agility title in March, 2004.
Once a month Chime and I visit our local nursing home for a Therapy dog visit.
I enjoy training and showing my dog. It gives me time to spend with my Mom and to work with my dog as a team. Chime and I are currently working on our AXJ and MX titles. My goal is to earn a MACH with Chime and to be on the US World Team.