and Competing in Agility with Arson and Fannie
Winzerhof Firebug, VCD2 JH NA NAJ OAP OJP, “Arson”, is a 5-year old syellow Labrador Retriever. I co-own Arson with Karen Wickstrom who bred and raised him. Karin and Arson earned his Hunting, Tracking and Obedience titles together while Arson and I earned all but two of his Agility titles. In doing so, I was able to help Arson finish his VCD1 and VCD2 titles. Right now we are very close to finishing our Excellent Agility titles and then will be able to begin earning MACH points. Arson is a wonderful dog and has worked hard for me. We train as much as possible and put our hearts into our competitions.
Training is hard work. During show season we train at least twice a week in lessons and compete two to three times a month. I live on a small ranch so I am lucky to have room for all of my agility equipment so we can practice more during the week. Fortunately, Karin did a wonderful job training Arson before I started working with him. For the past year and a half Arson and I have been training hard and competing in Agility trials, using everything from basic obedience commands, “body language” and advanced voice and hand signals. Arson being the wonderful dog he is, knows many different commands. He enjoys Agility, but I think Tracking is his “true love.” I got to go Tracking with him and Karin and it was just so amazing to see how completely focused he was. It was almost as if he was a different dog! I have learned a lot from Karin and Arson and hope to do more Tracking with him in the future.
My other dog, Rocky L Pajama Party, NA NAJ, “Fannie”, is a 4-year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I bred and raised her myself and started training her in Agility about two years ago. She is now competing at the Open level in Agility. When Karin first saw how I was training Fannie, she liked what she saw. She asked me if I would like to train and compete with Arson. Of course I said yes! When I started training both dogs as the same time, it was hard because each dog responded to completely different commands. Sometimes I would forget and use the wrong name for the wrong dog! As we progressed and did some retraining, I started using the same commands for each dog.
In Agility you have to teach the dog how to use an obstacle correctly, which can be very frustrating at times. If a dog knocks down poles or misses their “contacts” they can be penalized in competition. You also have to teach the dog different words or commands for each obstacle, so the dog can tell the difference between them while running the course. At higher levels of competition, the courses get more complicated, so it is important that the dog listens to you so he knows how to complete the course successfully.
Arson and Fannie are quite different in many ways, not just in their breed. They jump at different heights and have different running styles. Before I compete with them I have to plan their running courses individually. They both want to please but sometimes Fannie has a mind of her own. Arson loves to have fun and loves to run with me, but always does his best to succeed. Fannie also loves to run and have fun but she doesn’t always complete the obstacles correctly! I think it all goes back to the training. For the last couple of months I have been re-training Fannie on some of our techniques and we have improved amazingly.
About two years ago Fannie and I were featured as “Cover Dog” for the Golden Gate Pembroke Welsh Corgi Fanciers Club. Both Fannie and Arson were featured as “Dog of the Month” this year in a montly newsletter for the Hangtown Kennel Club, of which I am a member. Arson also won “Most Titles Earned” for 2003 in the Hangtown Kennel Club. He earned nine in one year!
Thank you for letting me share my experiences!