Posts Tagged ‘canine agility’

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Cy (first in line) & Raja (last) again represent for the FisherDogs Agilty Team!

The Canine Performance Event Agility Nationals are being held simultaneously in two locations this June to accommodate enthusiasts who want to compete coast to coast.  Washington State and New York State are the host states, a fitting decision since last year’s Nationals were held in Minnesota.  Raja and I are going to report from the National Trials in Altamont, NY starting on June 13th Altamont is a gorgeous, rural town, just outside Albany, lying peacefully under the Helderberg Mountains.

Canine Performance Events’ mission is to promote fun and health through low impact competition with your dog.  From the CPE literature:

CPE’s Basic Philosophy is for the dog and handler to have FUN while competing for agility titles.

  • Membership is open to all purebred and mixed-breed dogs
  • 15 months of age or older
  • Veterans 6 years or older compete at lower jump heights
  • Enthusiast and Specialist compete at lower jump heights
  • 5 Levels of Titles (from Beginners to Championship)
  • Standard Classes and many Games Classes
  • Junior’s and Physically Challenged Handlers are welcomed!

Success can be achieved through positive training and teamwork.

While CPE is serious competition and years of training and commitment go toward achieving a Champion, the focus is the dog/human team development.  CPE is a little like golf, in that you are always competing against yourself.  So every competing dog can become a champion if the interest and
the commitment hold out.

And, Champion or not, every team wins.  Bonds of love, adventure and fun make every owner and dog live a healthier and prouder life.  No matter what curves life throws, the adventures along the way
with canine competition make for hours well lived in the ever changing history of canine / human interaction.

As we did in Minnesota, Raja and I are not competing, but blogging, observing and supporting our human and Shih Tzu friends Carolyn Linsday and Cy as they forge ahead toward Cy’s championship goal.

Cy had a challenging year. Three months ago, moving normally as he explored his new house, he hurt
a disk at the base of his neck.  His vet determined the original injury probably happened months or years before, or maybe even Cy was born with a tilted disk. A few days under the vet’s special care, laser treatments, chiropractic treatments, meds, total rest and then a slow return to activity, followed by a
cautious return to the agility arena have brought Cy back to competing form.

Carolyn wasn’t sure if Cy would compete, because, obviously, Cy’s overall well- being is more important than any title.  But Cy himself let Carolyn know he was ready to compete when he began to run around his new yard and jump again.  With his vet’s approval, Cy is good to go!

Some might question if a dog with a former disk injury should compete.  It’s a personal call for Cy’s
team, but the fact remains that Cy is a committed pet athlete and a bored stay at home couch-potato.  He yearns to be busy!  Also, as we know, activity builds muscles that support good spine health.
Plus, each dog jumps at his own level.  Cy competes in Teacup jump heights because he’s a small dog. None of the movements in CPE are eccentric or stressful, when practiced reasonably and not over trained.  It’s not that the dog does anything unusual physically, but that he follows the course in the proper sequence and in accordance with the pace his owner sets for him.  So Raja, who does not do agility per se, could easily do all the motions of the CPE runs on a normal romp outside, although actually getting him to do them in sequence or preventing him from getting off message and wandering off to say “hi” to somebody might be the challenge.

Pet athletes are just like human athletes. They might have challenges, but they heal up and come back stronger.
During the 13th through the 15th, Raja and I will be blogging nightly from the CPE trials.  Please check back with us to see our videos and read our ring-side report.

Tips for Dog Bloggers: Be the Message!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Keeping it real on a windy, Spring day.

Today, The Disney Channel announced that a new fall 2012 series will feature a dog who blogs.  Announcement Adam Bonnet, Senior Vice president of the Disney Channel says his canine actor can do his own stunts.  Raja applauds authenticity in dog blogging.  He does his own stunts too.
If dog blogging were not a major trend, Disney wouldn’t even consider the topic.  Committed dogs have been barking on the internet for years!  There’s even a yearly convention for dog bloggers, BlogPaws.  The summer convention’s in June, so there’s still time to get in on the fun:  BlogPaws Not sure how to begin?… attend the Pet Writers Conference in New York in February.  Conference
For emergent Disney talent Stan, and for those of you readers who want to encourage your dog to blog, Raja has a few tips…
1. Never blog about what you don’t experience. If you don’t deep sea dive, well, you can’t bark about it, unless you interview a dog who does.  Blog out of the events of your own life and the events that touch your life.
2. Always follow your nose and heart. If a topic grabs your attention, do your research and write about it.  Follow your nose as you wander the  streets and meadows of your world.  But take content seriously.  People are going to believe what you say, so don’t say anything that you have not experienced or have not researched meticulously.  You have a responsibility to be informational, not only opinioned or braggadocios. When we do medical advice, we run our posts past a vet.  But when we do travel, we just tell you want we have seen (refer to point 1.)
4. Create happiness, but don’t try to make everybody happy. Sometimes readers don’t like what you have to say.  Sometimes people wake up on the wrong side of the bed; it’s not your concern. As I tell Raja on our walks, smell the nice things beside the road, not the stinky things.  (True, nice and nasty are subjective; that’s something we debate.)
5. Appreciate your fans and work hard. Oh we do!
Keeping our noses on the scent of our major travel theme, we are scheduled to attend the Canine Performance National Agility Event on June 15-17 in Altamont, New York.  Entries are limited to 575 serious, qualified canine contenders.  Our pal Cy the Shih Tzu will be one of them!  Can’t wait to bark all about it!

Agility Update: Agile Shih Tzu Zones in on Championship!

Monday, November 7th, 2011

In June 2011, Raja and I reported from the Canine Performance Events Agility Nationals in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  We followed the careers of Cy and CT, two Shih Tzu, and Skamp, a Mini Aussie.  And we promised to keep you in the loop as Cy and CT achieve their goals of Champion, as well as to keep tabs on Skamp’s career.  Following is an inspiring interview with Carolyn Linsday, owner of Cy and CT, and Rhea Hartley, owner of Skamp.  You know that some of you will want to get started in agility after you read this.

CT, Cy and Skamp (fore) with Chloe and Cara, co-owners of Think Pawsitive training facility in New Berlin, WI


With Carolyn’s dogs, we focus on Cy, who will Champion before CT does.  Rhea’s Skamp is competing casually now, but casual competition might suit some lifestyles best. 

Helen: Carolyn, as I understand it, Cy’s Championship category is the highest and hardest.  

Carolyn: “Cy’s title will be the C-ATCH (CPE Agility Trial Champion).  He will compete in all of 7 required categories, including the ominous jackpot, in which the dog and the handler are separated remotely as the dog runs the course.” (This is always the hardest for Cy personally.)  

Helen: How many points are required for Championship like Cy’s? 

Carolyn: “For Cy’s title, he has to complete in the categories of Handler Games, Strategy Games and Fun Games. Cy started in CPE at Level 1 (you are allowed to start as high as Level 3), so when Cy receives his C-ATCH he will have completed 120 qualifying runs!”

“Cy’s first trial was in August of 2005 when he was only entered in a few events- and the same in 2006. It was 2009 before we started doing a few more trials, so it has been a slow process getting this close to our C-ATCH.”   He has now only 11 Q’s to go!

Helen: What does his achievement mean to you?  In what ways does this fulfill a dream for you?  What have you done, day to day, to work toward this goal? 

Carolyn: “Cy and I are partners on the agility field. We have to work together to have a good run and Cy and I have a very special relationship during a run. He just wants to do what I ask him to, so, if I give him the right signals, he is happy to do what I want. In the beginning, we did not have much training and we both learned a LOT of bad habits, which have had to be retrained for both of us.” 

“I cannot describe the feeling you get when we have a really awesome run where we are both in sync and everything goes smooth. It isn’t a feeling that we are anything special, but that we are a special partnership. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t run agility can fully understand it. It is a sense of accomplishment that you have both done your job to your best ability. Although those runs are especially special and awesome, every run has something in it to be grateful for.  I can always find something that they did well, even if we don’t Q (qualify).” 

Helen: How has Cy benefited from his training and competing?  

Carolyn: “I think doing agility gives a dog confidence. It teaches them to work with you as a team. Both Cy and CT were never shy, but I have watched others who were able to overcome shyness because of agility. They love the special attention they get from me while we are training and at a trial- the treats, the praise and just spending time with me. They like using their minds and they know when they have figured something out or that they did a good job. It helps keep them fit. A lot of people are surprised to see a Shih Tzu competing, but of course we know they are not just couch dogs. They love running and jumping. They only jump an 8″ jump so it is not too hard on their knees. They could both jump 12″ if they had to.” 

“Cy is a momma’s boy, but he is also confident enough that he can stay in his crate while I walk a course or someone can hold onto his leash, he may look for me, but he does not get over stressed. He knows he is going to get to go and play.” 

“Being at an agility trial does relieve stress for me. Everyone at a trial enjoys playing with their dog and understands what it feels like when you have that special run. You just can’t find that with someone who hasn’t experienced the feeling. We are all supportive of each other. I have only competed in the CPE venue, but I have found it to be a very friendly group.” For CPE, the canine/human team compete against their own challenges and every dog can become a champion some day! 

Helen: Rounding things off, on average, what does it cost to train and achieve a champion?  

Carolyn: “The cost averages around $12.00 per run, so we have spent a considerable amount of money. There are no cash prizes, only ribbons, of which we have a lot. We will receive a special ribbon, a plaque and a “bar” (like from a jump) especially decorated and everyone at the trial is welcome to sign it, something to remember that special run. Of course the ribbons don’t mean anything to Cy and CT, but the praise and treats they receive tell them they have done a great job and we have had fun together.” 

Helen: How do you feel agility achievement enhances the breed of the Shih Tzu?  

Carolyn: “I do think people change their perception of the Shih Tzu when they see them compete. I have heard a lot of people say they thought they just like to sleep and stay indoors. People are very surprised at how fast they can run. I will say they don’t have the endurance that a border collie has, but they can compete throughout a full 3 day trial without a problem. I am careful when we are at outdoor trials in hot weather.”

“My husband and I saw a Shih Tzu walk into a pet store once and were both instantly intrigued with the breed.  They are sturdy dogs, caring dogs, funny dogs, ready to please. They can be a bit stubborn at times, but I have always been able to easily work through that. It is the only breed I will ever have!” 

Helen:  Thanks so much Carolyn.  I’m sure Cy will finish sooner, but you know Raja (also very stubborn) and I will be reporting at the 2012 Nationals! It would be incredible to be there for the moment!  Now let’s talk with Rhea.  Skamp’s career is more relaxed- just enough competition to have fun, but no pressure for the long term.

Think Pawsive's indoor arena makes it easy and comfortable for dogs to compete and learn in all seasons.


Rhea, when you started out in agility with Skamp, what were your goals and dreams for Skamp? 

Rhea: “The first time I saw an Agility Competition, I saw a bonding between the handlers and their dogs.  That was what I wanted for Skamp and myself.   My goals were for Skamp to become more focused on the agility course, become more obedient and the big dream was some day to have her qualify for Agility Nationals, which she accomplished  in June.” 

“Skamp is retired, but seeing her compete again this past week-end I do believe she does enjoy it.  Enjoying it doesn’t always mean they have to be perfect.  I just want to make sure she is always having fun”.  

Helen: How has agility been beneficial to Skamp and how has it been beneficial to you? 

Rhea: “Agility keeps her active, moving, and still lets her know she needs to be obedient to certain commands.  When I have been in training, Skamp is always assured of having fun times with Mom.  Now that we aren’t in training, she doesn’t always receive that one on one time with me.  Yes, we go on walks daily, but there is a big difference between walks and training!!  Agility training and competition has brought lots of new friends into our lives.  I also think that Agility Competition has allowed Skamp to be more socialized, so she enjoys being around other dogs.  I also enjoyed running with Skamp because she kept me going.  Very good exercise!!!” 

Helen: And you and Skamp are still attending Agility Events, right?

Rhea: ‘Skamp and I enjoy going to Agility Events because, once you have been in it, you are kinda “hooked”!!  It’s kinda like fishing!!!  I noticed this past week-end, Skamp would lie in my arms and watch the other dogs run.  Her head would go back and forth! I enjoy going because I learn from other handlers. It is always fun to see other dogs have a GREAT run.  Believe me, I saw some top notch dogs this past week-end along with their handlers.  It also thrills me to see the “Junior Handlers” because you know CPE has taken them away from television/computors and other activities and you see a love from them for their dogs.  It just is sooooo exciting to watch!!  All I can say is, “I never get tired of watching”!!!’

“Skamp has learned a lot from her training sessions.  Before training, she had a problem focusing and listening.  When we go hiking, we do let her off her lead and she does come when called.  I have also noticed that through all of the training she really gets excited with all of the praise.  Skamp is an Aussie and that breed can be very stubborn, but, through agility, we have pretty much broken that cycle.  We are never afraid of taking her with us regardless where we go.  Skamp is always with us with fishing, hiking, trips to other states to visit friends or relatives and she does GREAT.  Everyone loves Skamp!!!”  

A future junior handler enjoys some Halloween fun with Skamp, CT and Cy

Readers, a lot of Agility Training yields the honor of National Champion living in your midst.  A moderate amount of Agility yields a dog who listens better and can move with confidence wherever her paws take her.  Everybody Wins With Canine Performance Event Agility! 

Many thanks to Carolyn, Rhea, Cy, CT and Skamp.  Raja and I will be seeing them all at a fairgrounds somewhere in rural New York State in June 2012!

In her Carolyn's Originals Halloween dress, Skamp plays in the grass.

A life with books, dogs, & thread … meet Carolyn of Carolyn’s Originals

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Carolyn gets lots of help when she sews.

Some of us work all day and come home at night and sit. Our very talented friend, Carolyn Linsday works all day setting type for books and, when she goes home, she exercises two of her three Shih Tzu dogs. Cy and CT will compete to earn their C-ATCH Championships in Summer 2011. And finally, when Cy and CT are tired, Carolyn herself “relaxes” by sewing beautifully cut pet clothes. Running all aspects of her pet fashion company is her third full time activity as designer and technician for Carolyn’s originals.

We are not sure where she gets her energy, but Carolyn seems to keep all three balls in the air every day. Raja and I plan to be in the stands waving our pom poms when Cy and CT take the ring in June and we’ll blog all about it here so you’ll be in the know.
Agility is a rapidly rising field of small dog competition in which we see more and more Shih Tzu dogs competing. In previous decades, the Shih Tzu, the hardy dog from the Himalayas, had been stereotyped into the role of companion couch potato, while also being pigeon holed as stubbornly aristocratic. A revoltingly hopeless combination.

While the aristocracy remains, the couch companion myth is rapidly fading, thanks to people like Carolyn who believe in the athleticism of these small and powerful dogs. Maybe Shih Tzu dogs are still stubborn, but bring them aboard respectfully and they will excel admirably. Right, Raja?
If you are still looking for an artisenal gift for your pet for Christmas, you can view Carolyn’s fashions here (Yes this is a plug, but there is no hidden commercialism. Raja uses many of Carolyn’s creations, especially the flannel shirts, the visors and the snuggle bag. Our blog isn’t about product and we don’t plug for things or money. We just like to share what we think is really good.)
What our blog IS about is living an energetic, self styled life in which your dog is a constant, happy companion. Maybe Carolyn’s dogs can’t help with the typesetting, but they can compete fiercely and they love helping her sew.

First Shih Tzu Ever Wins C-ATCH Agility Title

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Meet Cain, a fiercely competitive athlete, therapy dog, Canine Good Citizen and occasional model.  Raja and I are really proud of Cain and other “Toy Group” dogs like him who are showing their athleticism, smarts and natural companionability while keeping their people as busy as possible. 

Cain is owned by Debora Wheeler, who specializes in showing and training Shih Tzu dogs.  (She and her father have rescued over 200 together and, for Debra, her career began when she fell in love with one small dog!)  What Cain’s title means is that he has competed in successive Canine Performance Events, earning an awesome number of points to become a Canine Agility Team Champion.  

Where does the “team” come in?  The “team” is the dog and human team, since the handler accompanies the dog through all the agility challenges giving verbal and non verbal signals to guide the dog through the maze of size appropriate physical challenges.  Cain also has competed in the division of Teacup Agility.  And this does not mean he’s diminutive or “cute”, but refers to the height at which he jumps.  (Of course, he’s cute too.) 

While canine agility is a competitive sport, at the entry level, most people encounter club classes and events where everyone is extremely supportive of everyone else.  The community encourages dog socialization and makes everyone very much aware of their own dog’s health and personality.  Since the best handlers are patient and kind, dogs benefit hugely from this interaction.  Cain’s success has propelled him to compete in American Kennel Club events only.  But he doesn’t let the pressure go to his head- or does he?  Look at the celebrity duds! 

Toy dogs (small dogs not bred for farm work or hunting) have excelled in recent years in agility because their natural affability and sturdy build make them temperamentally and physically inclined towards seeing agility as playful learning.  Raja wants to send a special happy bark to all Shih Tzu owners who got their dogs off the couch and into the ring for fun and fitness doing what dogs do best- running, jumping, and developing their bonds with their owners. 

Where will Cain go from here?  He’s so talented; we’re sure he’ll find something else to excel in.  Meanwhile, he has an adorable daughter who is following in her father’s pawprints. 

To find a CPE group in your area, just Google “Canine Performance Event “your town” “your state” or “Canine Agility” “your town” “your state”.  Canine agility is a little like golf… you are always competing against your own best score. (But it’s loads more fun than golf… just saying.) 

Many thanks to Debora Wheeler for sharing Cain’s achievements with us!  (Special thanks to agility competitors Carolyn Linsday and Lisa Schwellinger for teaching Raja and me the terms.)