The First Agility Match: A Moment Frozen on the Brink
Aslan sailing over an agility jump.
The First Competition
He sat at the start line - body quivering in anticipation. His eyes focused alternately on the first obstacle, a jump, and me. I had told him to stay, and even though excitement of the game caused him to stand on tippy toe, he didn't move. I had moved out past the first obstacle, and turned to face him, preparing to give my first command.
And at that moment, with both of us frozen for just a second, I realized that my little sheltie was on the brink of his agility career. At that moment, nothing had happened. He hadn't run his first course. There had been no mistakes - no triumphs. And anything was possible.
I had purchased my sheltie a year previous with the hope of not only having a great house dog, but also an agility dog and a demo dog to help train students. As a young pup, he had shown all the signs of being a potential star in performance events, such as obedience and agility. His breeder had held him out to go to a home that would train him.
It was my lucky day.
I named my tiny sable-merle sheltie Aslan. Deepfork's Aslan, to be exact, and training started for the young pup soon upon arrival at my house. He was quick to learn and eager for food, which helped trememdously in motivating him to learn sit, stay, lay down and all the basics.
I also took him out and about often, joining a puppy class for socialization. I knew the importance of early socialization, and I didn't want my puppy growing up fearful. He also earned his Canine Good Citizenship Certification.
When he was a year old and physically ready for the demands required, we began agility training. He excelled at the sport, gaining confidence and speed with every session. Although we wouldn't know until he began going to agility trials, it seemd the little sheltie had a big future.
And then, there we stood at the start line of his first competition - frozen for a second - hours and hours of training behind us, and an unwritten future ahead of us. At that moment, the little dog was at the cusp of his agility career. Nothing was written, and all was possible.
Then, I said, "OK, Over," and Aslan began writing his sporting future.
We did fairly well that day at the AKC agility match, lots of triumphs and a few mistakes. Aslan and I ran two runs. The first run, we knocked a bar, disqualifying us. The second run, we qualified and won first place.
It was a good beginning - a good first paragraph to a new agility career. I can't wait to read the next section.
Aslan competing at the 2008 AKC Agility National Championships - only one page in his continuing journey.
Aslan Agility: Long May You Run
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Other Columns About Aslan's Agility Career
- Dog Agility Article: Overcoming Obstacles in Dog Agility
A column about the thrill of returning to dog agility competition after a year lay-off due to injury, and about the extra burden placed on the canine partner.
- Agility Teams: The Importance of Teamwork in Agility Competition and Training
An article about being the weak link in a partnership with a dog. It examines teamwork and the loyalty and love dogs have for their owners.
- Dog Agility Championship: Achieving the AKC's MACH Agility Title
An article about getting our first MACH (Masters Agility Championship) title through the American Kennel Club. Becoming a Champion at anything is special, and sharing this with my incredibly talented dog only made the experience sweeter.