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Agility… The Toy Breed Sport!

Agility… The Toy Breed Sport!

When I first brought home my fawn furball of joy, I had a feeling I had adopted a dog who had more energy than I could imagine.  I had just adopted my very first puppy and it was a “toy breed” known for breathing issues, diabetes, knee problems, stinky wrinkles, laughter, and love. A pug! And how in the world would I be able to channel the energy from this little guy into a positive and non-destructive activity? Agility!… wait, what?
I was referred to a training facility and called the instructor, leaving a timid voicemail that sounded like this “Hi…I have a pug and I would like to enroll him in agility lessons… He can breathe, I swear! And he has a long nose for a pug, and I promise he can jump high, and I think he’d be good at it, but if you don’t think so, I totally understand…” I got a call back the next day and was shocked to learn that the sport does not discriminate to any breeds. An agility dog doesn’t have to be a working , sporting, long legged  breed of dog to participate.  She listed off names of famous agility Pugs, Chihuahuas, Bassets, Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepards, Corgis… Really!  I was so excited and we started private lessons right away.

Tatoe snuggling up after a full day of trials.
Tatoe snuggling up after a full day of trials.

My pug, Tatoe, became absolutely obsessed.   He was faster than any of the other dogs in our class (ranging small to quite big) and had learned to be focused, attentive, and disciplined all from his weekly practices of this sport.  People would stay just to watch him fly through the tunnels and catch air off the dog walk.  When we would pull in the driveway to the arena, he would already be panting and shaking with excitement to get on the course.   I was amazed!
Tatoe and I competed in a few local trials.  He was the fastest little guy out there and we decorated his crate with lots of first and second place ribbons.  Our biggest challenge was getting him to slooooow down so we could hit the obstacles with accuracy.  Most of the time, he was leaving me in the dust to make up his own course in front of the judges. What a blast we had!
Life went on and we eventually moved too far from the arena, so Tatoe and I had to retire when he turned 6 years old. He continues to practice agility at home on some backyard equipment and of course, our coffee table, couches, chairs, etc.  We had so much fun, and Tatoe and I learned so much from it.  Agility is an amazing bonding experience, a great workout and a great training tool for dogs of any size! It was a great run and I hope you are able to step out of that comfort zone for your pup someday, too!
By: Kimberly Bertsch
kimbery-bertsch

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