Samwise Phineas Tiberius Gamgee, Sam for short, is our 10-year-old Beagle mix. I share duty running him with my son, Ryan Arnold, who has been busy these last few years with school. Sam is a trooper though and bounces between handlers with ease! Sam showed up at our house about nine-years-ago. We found him sitting at the gate to the backyard, asking to be let in, because apparently that’s where he thought dogs belonged. He weighed 55 pounds when he showed up – for reference at Cynosports he’ll be down to his competition weight of about 22 or 23 pounds. We actually tried to rehome Sam for a while, but after a placement fell through because the potential adopters weren’t sure they wanted him badly enough, we decided they didn’t deserve a dog this cool and ended up keeping the little guy.
I thought Ryan was kind of crazy when he said he wanted to do agility with him, but he was our first dog to earn a Championship (he earned his Silver PDCH at the first USDAA Title Mania) to be a semifinalist at Cynosport, and to earn a Lifetime Achievement Award Gold! Easily the biggest training obstacle we overcame with Sam was his tendency to be a hound – he liked to sniff a lot. But we worked through it despite the frustrations and he came together better than I ever imagined he would. This will be Sam’s third time competing at Cynosport, and his first time competing in the Veterans Showcase. This is going to be Sam’s retirement show, so the only goal for him is that he has as much fun as possible!
Pennifer Q Pig, (Penny), is my five-year-old little black dog, or Feistyhuahua. My son and I found her a couple miles from my house. She was sitting forlornly at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, thin, scraped up (likely road burn from being tossed from a vehicle) and covered in fleas and ticks. We live in a rural area, so it is not at all uncommon for us to have dogs dropped on us or to find strays wandering the wilds, but we usually try to find homes for them when no owners are found. That was never really an option with Penny. She tugged at our heartstrings from the beginning and I knew there was no way she was going to go live with someone else.
Penny is the fifth rescue dog that I’ve trained in agility and is by far the most enthusiastic. She loves the game more than any dog I’ve trained before, and her enthusiasm is very infectious. It’s always easy to go out and train and work with Penny because she loves the game so much. The biggest challenge with Penny was getting her to focus her seemingly boundless energy on agility, a process that is really never finished. She loves to run, and the secret is to get her run arounds to match up with what the course needs us to do! Penny has earned her Bronze ADCH, LAA Bronze, and Tournament Master Platinum, among other USDAA titles. She has competed at Cynosports once before, in 2015 in Tennessee, where she made it to the semifinals in Grand Prix and Steeplechase. Our goal is to run together as a team and do as well as we can. We love showing people that rescue dogs and little black dogs everywhere can play this sport as well as any dog. Running a rescue is very rewarding, especially when it’s a dog that like Penny that likely wouldn’t even be alive if we hadn’t found each other. That helps keep things in perspective for sure, but it is really cool to go out with her and accomplish what we have been able to accomplish knowing that someone threw away this amazing little creature, never knowing what a gift she was.