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Never Give Up

by  Karen Gloor

          As Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of choclits…you never know what you’re gonna get.”  The same can be said for competing in agility with a Beagle! (smile)

          When I started with NEA 7 years ago, I never thought that in a million years we would ever attain the highest honor ever given in USDAA-style agility…the ever elusive ADChSM (Agility Dog Champion).  After many years of perseverance, patience and never giving up, we reached our goal on June 2, 2001…one day after NEA’s 12th birthday!  I am so darned proud of her that I just can’t stand it!  She now joins Squiggles, another Beagle owned by Marietta Huber, as being the only 2 Beagles in the world to attain this goal.  How’d we do it?  Read on…

          When NEA was 4, I started training my then Doberman/Shepherd mix, Saavik, for agility.  My then husband took over training of Saavik, which left me with nothing or NEA.  Since I really wanted to be involved with such a fun sport, I decided to train NEA.  Of course it was a challenge from the start, especially the sniffing issue.  We rarely completed a course in the first 8 months to a year of competition…I would lose her to her nose or she simply took off for “home” like a bat out of hell.  While frustrating, I was not ready to give up.  With help from top agility competitors and friends, we finally put together a few good rounds, which gave me hope.

          I’d like to say that she never left the ring again, but I can’t! (smile)Every time I went to the line with her, I never knew what she was going to do.  Even when she got to the Masters level, she would air-scent the donut table that may have been 100 feet or so from the ring!  She was never predictable.  Then I got Fred.  Fred is my now retired Italian Greyhound.  He took to agility like a duck to water!  He ran fast and happy and always had fun.  NEA, who simply could not be outdone by this little “rat dog,” had to show Fred that she was indeed capable and she could run better than him!

          This led to her being more consistent, but still not 100% trustworthy.  Then along came Chakotay, another Italian Greyhound.  Again, NEA couldn’t let this fast-learning “spider dog” get the best of her, so she put her all into it.  Now she is the most steady and fun-to-run dog I compete with in agility (I currently compete with NEA, Chakotay and my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Rysa).  When I get to the line, I know I’m going to have a good run with her as she AROOOOOs her way through the weave poles and simply has a great time.

          The ADChSM title took us a long time to complete.  Let me explain…once you get to the Masters level in USDAA agility, you start earning legs towards the ADCh.  All told, you need 7 Standard legs, 5 Snooker legs, 5 Gamblers legs, 5 Pairs legs and 5 Jumpers legs…that’s 27 qualifying scores all together.  Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  NEA and I completed the legs necessary for everything except Gamblers early on.  It took us a total of 3 years and 3 months to get the 5 Gamblers legs required.

          Gamblers was tough for us because your dog is required to work away from you, which NEA didn’t do very well for a long time.  She is what is known in the agility world as a “velcro dog.”  I had to do some pretty extensive training to get her to realize that I didn’t need to be alongside her the entire time in order for her to do the obstacles.  I had the help of Sharon Nelson, Stuart Mah and Ken Fairchild, 3 agility competitors, to teach me how to get NEA to work away from me.  Their combined wisdom showed me how to effectively get NEA to be comfortable working away from me.  Soon she started working away from me on Standard courses and would make up her own course from time-to-time! (smile)

There are really two morals to our story:

  1. Train for Gamblers early on!  If you intend to compete in USDAA or NADAC style agility, Gamblers is a class that is offered and can be fun…but only if you have properly trained your dog to work away from you.  Chakotay still doesn’t work away from me very well and needs 4 Gamblers legs, whereas I trained Rysa to work away from me from the start and she needs only 2 more Gamblers legs to complete her title.

  2. Never give up.  With training, proper attitude and patience, you and your Beagle can go anywhere and achieve anything.  And when you do, it is all that much more sweet to do it with what’s considered an “off” breed for agility.

          Good luck, have fun and never give up…we really do need more Beagles in the sport of agility!!

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).