Sunday, June 18, 2017

15 months - UKI (unofficial) debut

Recently the girls and I tried out UKI agility for the first time. We already play in two other organizations (AAC and CKC) and really didn't need a third one to split our time and money to. However, I decided to sign up because they allow dogs to compete at 15 months in select classes (Speedstakes and Nursery). Unfortunately, those classes weren't offered at this trial, but they ended up offering some unofficial fun runs which was just as good. Kenna is ready to trial, she's just not old enough, and fun runs and the younger start age in UKI are great for exposing her to running in a trial environment.

Trials are a different environment from what most of us train in. There are lots of other dogs around, it's loud, it's busy, and handlers are often a bit stressed or nervous. Some dogs find this environment scary, and others might find it overly exciting. And then there are dogs that become trial-wise: they learn that at trials there are no food or toys in the ring. Many young dogs struggle at first in trials because of these reasons... they get anxious, or they get too excited to focus properly, or they just realize that it might be more fun to run around on their own since you don't have anything for them anyway. Since Kenna has all the skills she needs to start trialing, I want to start exposing her to running in trials so she learns to focus and stay with me until the end and that her reward is coming... it's just delayed a bit!

Kenna did absolutely wonderful. I was so pleased with her. I alternated taking a toy in to reward her with, and making her run the entire thing and giving a jackpot outside of the ring. This keeps her guessing for now, and I'll slowly start to phase out the toy in the ring until we never have one. She was beautifully focused, she listened very well, her contacts were perfect, her weaves were perfect. I am just so happy with her and it was so much fun to get to show her off for the first time.

Here are her runs (or portions of her runs... my videographer was a little late on a few of them!)

The other reason I signed up for UKI is because it is the only organization our friend can run her dog in. Fisher is her almost 3 year old English Setter. He developed cancer on his leg as a 3 month old puppy. He was treated with radiation several times to control it, but just before his 2nd birthday last year, it stopped responding to treatment and the leg had to be amputated. Unfortunately, this meant he was no longer allowed to run in AAC or CKC agility. Fortunately, she found out that UKI leaves this matter to the discretion of the judges. Most of the judges around here have seen Fisher run before, and they know that he is safe and not in pain. Fisher just has so much fun doing agility. He is such a joy to watch on course, and we had a great time getting to hang out at a trial again. We are joking about attending World Team tryouts next year... just show up with a greyhound and a 3-legged dog. Can you say #underdogs ? It just goes to show that ANY dog can do agility. Go Fisher!

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