Yas & Junuh Learning Agility

By Yas Bakshian (March 2012)

What got you started in Agility?
After Junuh got his Championship title, I was looking for another activity for us to do together. We tried flyball, but it seemed too repetitive and boring ... since all I did in those beginning classes was to have the instructor work with Junuh and there didn't seem to be as much team work involved. I also went and watched some agility trials and it looked like both people and dogs were having a lot of fun together. We then tried agility and we were BOTH hooked. I can't believe that we have been doing agility for 3 years now ... and we are just starting to enter trails ... and we still have such a long way to go!!

What do you find most rewarding about Agility training?
I like that it is further deepening our relationship and understanding of each other. I love to see him having fun doing the various obstacles. The best part for me is when I actually remember the course AND Junuh actually listens to me and follows my lead AND I don't give him the wrong information or unclear direction.

What do you find most challenging about training your dog in Agility?
Junuh is an extremely exuberant dog with A LOT of drive, he LOVES agility and I'm often not giving him timely information in order for him to follow the set course, so he will then create his OWN course! So my challenge is learning to give him the information he needs WHEN he needs it and continue training all the variations in courses.

Do you have any amusing moments that happened in training or at an Agility Trial?
There are lots of funny (& sometimes scary) training moments. We have only done 2 trials so far, one NADAC and one AKC. Junuh LOVES the A-Frame and he doesn't care if it isn't set up ... he once climbed it when it was probably set at a 65 or 75 degree angle ... another time there was a 3.5ft fence in front of the A-frame so that the dogs would not take it, but Junuh proceeded to jump over the gate, land on the A-frame and complete the obstacle! Did I mention that he was exuberant? My challenge is always how to keep him safe, since he doesn't seem to have any fear and there isn't any obstacle he won't try!!

What was your first agility trial experience and how did you prepare?
My first agility trial was this last December (2011) at the NADAC New Year's Eve Trial at SoccerBlast in Burnsville. I entered a NADAC trial first just to see where Junuh and I were at with our training. Initially, my goal had been to start trialing the summer before and when I told one of my instructors in the spring of 2011, she was pretty straight forward and said, "well, maybe in the fall"!! This helped give me perspective and not to jump the gun too much for us as a team, and I'm glad I waited - even longer than that fall but until the end of the year. This made the trial experience a lot more fun and we were able to get 4 out of 6 Q's for our debut trial! I was also told that NADAC trials are much more flowing and it's geared more for speed and I found this to be true when we entered our next trial, 3 weeks later, which was an AKC trial at Simon Arena. We only Q'd on our very first jumpers run with a score of 100, and then it was down hill from there :)
Part of my preparation for starting to trial was to go to a lot of different trials, and I also volunteered at the trials and got to meet and get to know a variety of people, which helped reduce my stress level and enabled me to have more fun. I'm still figuring out the logistics of when to get my dog out and excersise him before we run and not forget to do the walk through and lots of other little details that make up a trial experience.
I'm also not too quick in entering any more trials, I entered the first 2 trials as a gauge of where we were as a team. My goal is to someday be competing at the excellent level, and I figure that going to class and training will continue to hone our skills as a team and help us be more successful in achieving this goal in the long run, rather than entering every trial that is available to us. Of course, I won't be testing my theory until my next trial which should be the last weekend in June ;o)