Tinker is a three-year-old female Border Collie who was one of eight puppies adopted out of a litter born in Utah and put into shelter there. She and her litter mates were lucky enough to get fostered through Western Border Collie Rescue and she came to her forever home with us early on. We picked her from the litter because she was very busy and curious and I hoped that those characteristics would transfer to agility. Both my husband and I had previously dabbled in agility with other dogs (several from rescues and one pedigreed German Shepherd), and I had been seriously “bitten by the agility bug” and I knew I wanted to try it with a herding dog.
Tinker is perhaps one of the easiest dogs I have trained – she is very quick to learn new behaviors and tremendously wants to please. But her willingness to please has been a struggle sometimes because she is a bit too much handler focused! Some of this also occurred because of holes in her foundation agility training and it is one of the pieces we are currently working on balancing out.
I think agility has done wonders for Tinker. Although she has an “off” switch now, she initially was “on” most of the time and training her to do agility kept her busy mind and body occupied and gave her a much-needed job to do.
This is our first national level agility competition and because she is young I anticipate we will have lots of time to perfect our timing and technique. And she, of course, will bark at me on course to tell me just how late my handling cues are! We try to have fun regardless and to remember that every run is a gift. After each course, no matter the outcome, we celebrate like we have won a world championship!
I would absolutely encourage people to adopt a dog and do agility training with him or her. Every dog, regardless of breeding, has strengths and weaknesses, and it is fun to work through the training challenges that each dog brings to the equation. And through agility training, you can create a bond with each dog that is incredibly strong. In fact, I have another up and coming agility competitor who was adopted this year from All Border Collie Rescue in Houston. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Photo Credit: First photo by Ken Gee