This article first appeared in the Fall 1995 issue of Kerry Blueprints.
Looking for a new challenge for your retired Champion, conditioning for your show dog, or just a fun activity for your Kerry? — Try Agility. Agility is
growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, and Kerries are naturals at this growing dog sport with their drive, nimbleness and intelligence. Who doesn’t
own a Kerry that thrives on pleasing a crowd and having fun?
|The weave poles.|
I started Agility training with my 5 year old Kerry, Toby, in 1992, and have come to the same conclusion as most people who become involved in this sport
– it’s addictive. Beginning training starts with on-lead introduction to the equipment and tasks, and proceeds to advanced off-lead techniques. Toby
was the first Kerry Blue Terrier to earn the AKC Novice and Open Agility titles and is now competing for his AKC Excellent and USDAA Starters titles.
The titles are icing on the cake for the fun we’ve had together in this sport.
|Jumping through the hoop.|
Picture this: you and your Kerry approach the start line of what looks like a giant playground for dogs. Upon notice that judge and timekeeper are
ready, you are off and running! As you use hand and verbal signals to tell your dog which obstacles to take, your happy, grinning Kerry does what
he loves best. He sails over a line of jumps, then climbs the A-frame, makes a tight turn to go through the open tunnel, snakes through weave poles
like a slalom skier, up and over the teeter-totter, through the collapsed tunnel and tire jump, downs for 5 seconds on the table, then off again
over a spread jump, trots surefootedly along the 4′ high dog walk, and finally over another line of jumps to the finish line and the enthusiastic
cheers of spectators.
|Slowing down for the teeter. |
With the addition of Agility by the AKC as a new performance event in 1994,agility has become accessible to most everyone, and people who before had
never heard of the sport are now actively training and competing. Agility first appeared in England in the late 70’s and was based on grand prix
equestrian events. Agility tests a dog’s fitness, flexibility, and teamwork with their handler.
In the U.S. there are four primary Agility organizations: American Kennel Club, United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), United Kennel Club (UKC),
and North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC); and in Canada the Agility Association of Canada (AAC). Most people train and compete for titles
in two or more versions of the sport, or whichever is offered in their area. These organizations offer standard titling classes in which Agility
equipment is arranged by the judge according to the level of difficulty of the class. The dog/handler team must perform the course in sequence
and are scored on the basis of time and faults. Dogs performing within the time and fault limits earn legs towards their title.
Kerries and Agility…try it… we’re hooked, and you will be, too!