The first dog I remember as a young child was a working Golden Cocker Spaniel called Sheena, followed by another Cocker, several mongrels and Jack Russell Terriers until I got the first dog that I could call my own – a rescued Irish Setter called Jason. I did obedience and showing with him with moderate success but failed in Field Trials. Next was a JRT named Zac who travelled around the country with me for over 20 years whilst I pursued a career in Equestrianism. Horses and dogs go together and in those years I learnt how to deal with the characteristics, loveable or otherwise of everything from Lurchers to Labradors and Schnauzers to Salukis.
It was during my time at Catherston Stud that I met Karen and Mark Laker of UpAndOver Agility. I also had a rather naughty, long legged, fluffy JRT, called Dyson at that time. Dyson’s party trick was to open windows and doors and join in the classes whether invited or not. Eventually they relented and we were allowed to join Karen and Mark when they were training their own dogs and later the club in 2003. Dyson was placed 5th on his first outing, in an Open Jumping class, then followed a couple of years of eliminations and 5 faults before finding form in 2007 when he was placed in every class (usually in the top 5) and we even appeared in the International Ring at the KC Festival in the Team Competition.
By this time I was well and truly bitten by the Agility bug and knew that I would never find another Dyson so started looking for a Collie. I got Robbie in 2008 from a local ex-police and military dog handler and trainer. Robbie took a little time to get in the ring due to illness then a lot of rehabilitation before he could recommence training. He won at the UKA National Championships as a 3 year old and the following year qualified for the Agility Club Starters Cup. In his first Kennel Club season he amassed 111 points. He still has issues with balance and co-ordination, if I don’t keep up his core strength and hind limb awareness exercises, but we continue to have fun and he is very full of drive and enthusiasm.
My latest project is Bud, another Border Collie, who was born in July 2013. He is the opposite of Robbie and is a much quieter, less confident character and will take a lot more time and patience to get him to confident enough to compete. I can see the potential is there and I am happy to let him progress at his own pace.