Start in Agility
After school and on weekends, most 10-year old girls are watching TV, chatting online, shopping or playing with dolls. Well, not me. My name is Stefanie Rainer. I am 10 years old and my favorite activity is agility with my wonderful three-year old Papillon, Storm. When Storm was seven months old, I received him as a gift. Since that day I have been training him for the sport of agility. Storm is not just my champion show dog with multiple AKC titles, he is also my best friend. Storm and I formed a special bond. A bond that is so close it could never be broken.
I am often asked how I became interested in the sport of Agility at such a young age and how I got Storm. I grew up with dogs. Every since I was a baby I had two Labrador Retrievers and an Australian Shepherd. My mom is a dog trainer for puppies and dogs that have behavior problems. My mom sparked my interest. She trains and competes in Agility with her six-year old Australian Shepherd named Emma. While hanging out at my mother’s agility club and attending many trials with her, I had a chance to meet many of my mom’s friends. They have now become my good friends too. I was drawn to the cute little Papillons that belonged to two of the women. I loved the way the dogs looked, their ears, their markings, and their personality. My mom’s trainer and friend knew of a breeder that had a seven month old Papillon for me. I fell in love with Storm instantly and the rest is history.
Storm was welcomed to the family and everyone loves him. He loves to chase birds and squirrels around the backyard. He is so fast it seems like he could run all day. Storm and I started training on the agility equipment in our backyard right after I got him. We would watch mom and Emma practice and then take a turn. Storm learned so fast that it wasn’t long until he was jumping over jumps, zipping through tunnels, zigzagging through the weave poles, and flying over the A-frame. He was afraid of the seesaw at first, but after lots of practice and encouragement he got the hang of it.
I joined my mom’s agility club and worked with a teacher so I could learn proper handling techniques. Storm and I were both novices so we got to learn together. We would learn something new all the time and then go home and practice. We both got the hang of agility so fast that it wasn’t long before we entered our first trial. Storm and I began going to trials at the end of a season, and in three consecutive shows we earned our Novice JWW title with second and third place ribbons.
The following season was our first full year and Storm and I were doing very well. We earned our AXJ title quickly and we placed in every run. In our very first Excellent B Jumpers run we qualified in first place. This was so cool because we began earning our MACH points. By the end of the first trial season, Storm and I accumulated 10 Titles between AKC and NADAC. I am looking forward to our first trial of the season coming up so we can get our last leg for our AX.
At the end of our second full season we earned 11 MACH points in Excellent B JWW. I have a wall full of ribbons and title certificates in my basement and I am very proud of Storm and my accomplishments.
As we compete at higher levels, I learned that it is much harder to qualify since you always need a clean run. My mom and I look at the time we spend together with our dogs and friends at practice and trials as special experiences. Even when we come home with no ribbons, I know that I will always have my best friend. We are a team, we win or lose together, but we always try our hardest and have fun doing it.
Besides agility, I have many other interests such as dance, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and horseback riding. Dance is also another major part of my life. I have been competing for five years and have taken home many awards. Of all the things I do, I enjoy agility the most.
I may not be able to get out of bed for school at 7:30, but on agility trial days, I fly out of bed at 4:00 am with no problem. I hope my story encourages other junior handlers to get into the sport of agility. I think they will enjoy the challenge and the special bond they will form with their best friend.