It always amazes me, at dog agility events, the wide variety of dogs (and owners) taking part – and loving it!
Yesterday I headed over to Etwall for the 4Paws Dog Agility contest, an all day event which attracted a huge range of participants, from the total beginner to the serious competitor.
The junior handlers were incredibly impressive, and were very competent in their handling. The youngest had to be this very confident four year old, and despite having her mum in the ring with her certainly did most of the work herself! I wouldn’t have argued with commands given that authoritatively!! She is definitely one to watch for in a few years. Agility is a great activity for children and teenagers, giving them confidence, a greater bond with their dogs and improving their fitness and co-ordination no end!
I was also amazed at the variety of breeds there. Yes, probably 50% or more were collies, but there were also terriers of all descriptions, labradors, spaniels were well represented (:)), GSDs and a rather lovely basset hound – who wasn’t the fastest but had a wonderful time!
I think that’s what I enjoy about dog agility: the dogs are loving it as much (if not more) than the handlers!!
My favourite, however was Smudge. When he started his round I have to admit I was a little confused by his extreme care, and by how closely his handler stayed with him.
Halfway round I realised that Smudge is almost completely blind. I discovered later that he suffered from a retina disease very rare in collies. So he jumps when his handler tells him to, he goes into the tunnels guided by her commands and hand claps and he trusts her completely to know where to go and what to do at every obstacle. It was a bit like guide dogs in reverse. He does it all by listening.
But he obviously enjoyed himself immensely. His tail wagged all the way and he only just missed a clear round. He was absolutely brilliant, and I found his story quite inspiring. I was also impressed by his owners, who didn’t just retire him to a place in front of the fire, but have kept him active and involved like all their other dogs.
If a blind collie can do dog agility so well, let’s not limit our dogs!