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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interview with a Typical Agility Competitor


How old are you?
52 years old.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a computer consultant.

How long have you been doing agility?
About five years.

How did you get started?
My dog trainer suggested I give it a try, so I took a beginners class and got hooked.

Describe yourself physically:
I'm 20 pounds overweight and have bad knees. I'm a klutz, but I love this sport! I probably look ridiculous out there running a course, but I don't care because no one else does either. Most of us are in the same situation. We're having fun!

Were you always an athlete?
Heck, no!!!! I was a clumsy disaster in high school...never got picked for the teams and wasn't built like a cheerleader. But now those cheerleaders are all leading boring lives and sitting in rocking chairs, and I'm out here being an athlete! I love that! Now it's my turn to compete in an athletic venue, and that really keeps me going!

So you're an athlete now?
Well, I probably don't look like one out there, gimping along the course, wildly waving my arms at my dog and yelling commands to him. I can't really run...I just sort of move as fast as my bad knees will allow me...but when I'm out there, I feel like my dog and I are in the Olympics! And we've got as much chance to do well as any other team out there!

What do you like most about this sport?
I like that it forces me to keep active and healthy. With goals and competitions, I have to watch my diet and can't let myself gain more weight. It forces me to keep somewhat in shape and to remain aware of my physical conditioning. I stretch more than I used to. I walk more and do other exercises to try to keep limber. I try to eat more healthfully. So agility is a great health-and-exercise program...way more fun than going to a gym!!

I also like the mental challenge of figuring out how to run a course, and disciplining my body language. It takes concentration, so I make an extra effort to get enough sleep, especially before a trial.

What kind of a dog do you run?
He's a Dalmation. Not a "typical" agility dog. He was just the dog I happened to have when I got into the sport. He's hard-headed and high energy. But we have fun, and we've come a long way since we started. We haven't progressed as fast as some of the people with Shelties and border collies, but I don't care. Everything is relative. We do have fun!

What are your agility goals?
I'd like to earn "Excellent" titles on my Dal, but it will take a long time since we have several ongoing issues. He's six years old now, so he doesn't have too many years left in this sport.
I'll probably start another dog in a couple years...maybe a real "agility dog," but probably just some dog that needs to be rescued. Maybe I'll look for a Bassett because they do agility quite well but don't run very fast! I could keep up!!

How often do you compete?
We go to agility trials about once a month. We usually have to drive a couple hours to get to trials in our area.

What does agility cost you?
Our class fees are usually about $60 for a six-week class. Trial fees start at around $15. We usually spend about $60 on fees over a trial weekend. Gas costs about $80 for the typical round trip. If we stay overnight at a motel, that's another $65. (Wish I had an RV!) Some people spend all their discretionary time and money on agility, and I can't do that. So one trial a month is about all my budget can handle.

Do you have any of your own equipment?
I have homemade equipment in my back yard. Weave poles, PVC jumps, and a pause table. That's a start.

How much do you practice with your dog?
We attend class one night a week. We practice in the back yard about three times a week, usually for only 20 minutes or so. And we take plenty of energetic walks together. He also likes to chase a Frisbee, which seems to have developed his peripheral vision, which is good for agility.

Did you ever think agility would become so important to you?
Lord, no!! I'd never even heard of it before my dog trainer suggested it. I thought it was something a few people did on TV. I never dreamed that ordinary people like me (and my dog) could take part in this fantastic sport!

How would you suggest people get started in agility?
Check your local area trainers for referrals to agility classes or clubs in the area. They're ALWAYS looking for new participants, and agility folks are always extremely willing to help others get started, just as they did.

Okay....so who is this mysterious competitor? She/he is a composite of the people who love this sport. Handlers range in age from 8 to 85 and include marathon runners to paraplegics. But if you averaged out everyone at a typical agility trial, our mystery runner is pretty close to what you'd get. Sound like anyone you might know? (Like you, maybe!)

1 comment:

sallyinyakima said...

Dear jan, the interview has great information, and inspires the reader to get more involved. At first i thought you may be talking to betty pace. . . do I know this dog owner?

thank you
sally