Almost ten years ago, I emailed Kiln Agility Training Society and asked if they were in need of any volunteer trainers as I wanted to increase my agility knowledge. At the time, KATS had been going through some turbulent times and my offer was jumped on and next thing I knew I was teaching classes on my own! I fell in love with agility training for a variety of reasons, but have always loved seeing how it can boost nervous dogs confidence levels.
After a year or so of volunteering at KATS and working on their committee, I took the club on and integrated it into Paws for Success. The agility club then went from strength to strength, increasing the number of nights we trained and how many classes we ran, as well as members attending fun shows and competitions. We also ran agility demonstrations at fetes and fairs all over the Home Counties! There was a vibrant, social element to the agility part of the business with a yearly awards evening, too.
In more recent years, we suffered from a loss of our indoor venue due to plans for housing being built. Despite this housing still not having been built three years down the line, KATS needed a new home and the move to an outdoor venue at Herriard was then completed, after a temporary outdoor venue in Fleet. This move enabled a wider range of agility classes, but also came with a downfall – the great British weather!
We have had a fantastic three years at Herriard, but having had a bad winter, followed by a heatwave summer, it was time to draw an end to running a yard. Today marks the final day of group agility classes for me, after almost a decade of teaching agility almost every week, year-round. So, in an effort to draw a line underneath it all, I thought you might like to hear some of my favourite agility memories of the past decade!
- When I first started teaching agility, I had set up a course where dogs were meant to be being pulled away from a tunnel entrance. One dog, a large Labrador kept going through the tunnel anyway, so I decided to stand in front of the tunnel and block it with my legs. My lesson was learnt quite painfully when the Labrador ignored my legs, charged full speed at the tunnel, knocking my legs out from under me and causing me to face-plant in front of the entire class! Ouch!
- I took Chloe, my old dog, to an agility competition once whereupon she proceeded to poo during her competition round. This in itself was bad enough, but she decided to stop at the top of the dog walk, which was situated in front of the viewing gallery window! Definitely my most embarrassing competition moment!
- At an agility demonstration once, we allowed pigs from a local farm to have a go on the agility equipment after our session. I then spent weeks with all the dogs at classes sniffing the equipment excitedly, whilst totally ignoring their owners.
- We used to run Have-a-go agility rounds at fetes – one time there was a Chihuahua who was smaller than my hand, who was too scared to do anything on its own. I ended up crawling through a tunnel with this dog in the palm of my hand!
I have so many fond memories of teaching agility, both group classes and individual sessions and would like to thank everyone who has ever attended agility with me. To those of you continuing with agility, I wish you the best in your future classes and competitions and to those of you who have decided to retire your dogs or follow a different sport, enjoy yourselves and have fun bonding with your dog!