Not all dogs competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show are there for to beauty and breed standard reasons. As part of its annual festivities, the Westminster Kennel Club hosts an agility dog competition. We’ve got the inside scoop on a Cocker Spaniel and his road to Westminster.
According to the official Westminster website, “Agility is designed to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training and teamwork. Dog and handlers negotiate an obstacle course racing against the clock.”
Cocker Spaniel mom, Nancy Couture Height, embraces the agility dog life, something she admits she’s wanted to do forever. ” I have a friend that worked with me years ago that did agility with her dog and I always wanted to try it. I didn’t have the time then with work and kids,” she says. “So years later while attending a Family Dog Basics class at Paws ‘N Effect with Patches, my Cocker Spaniel, I decided to sign up for an agility class.”
She admits to having fun and to catching the agility bug. Height is not alone, as 330 agility teams entered in the fifth Annual Masters Agility Championship this year.
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Time and Money for Agility
Height began the journey to training for agility with Patches when he was 18 months old, with competitions starting in March of 2013. She admits that her handling of Patches has improved over the past year, and she is reaping (and leaping) the rewards.
“Agility can be expensive,” she reports. “I pay $150 per dog every six weeks for my dogs’ classes. You can also take seminars if you like, but depending on the trainer those can be costly. Because I like seminars so much, I save for those.”
Additionally, there is an entry for each run the you due at a trial, which can be $15 and up depending on the venue or trial.
In terms of the time she puts into the sport, Height tries to compete a couple weekends a month. There are some months she admits to going every weekend. “You can enter as many or as few trials as you want.”
What Do All Those Agility Letters and Terms Mean?
- Standard Course (STD): Use of all the obstacles. Jumps (singles/doubles/triples # of bars on the jump, panel), tunnels, weave poles, tire, dogwalk, A-Frame, teeter & pause table.
- Jumpers (JWW Jumpers with weaves): Obstacles used are all the jumps, weave poles and tunnels.
- Q – Qualifying Score: You get a green ribbon for a Q / If you are in Level C in CPE you get a rainbow ribbon.
- In the Masters level in AKC and Level C in CPE, you have to have a perfect run to Q; you cannot have any faults. At each level (Novice, Open & Masters for AKC) (levels 1-5 & level C for CPE) you have to get a certain number of Q’s so you can move up to the next level. At the lower levels, you can have a fault or two depending on the level.
- Faults: Faults are dropped bars, taking a wrong course, the dog not touching the yellow contact on the dog walk, A-frame & teeter before leaving the obstacle. In AKC faults are also not staying on the table till the judge says go and refusals at an obstacle (dog hesitates at an obstacle before taking it), run by – dog passing a obstacle.
- NQ: Non Qualifying Run
- Course Time: This is the amount of time it takes the dog to run the course at his jump height. There is a set course time for every course that the dog must not go over if you want to Q. Of course, the dog must run the course in numerical sequence.
- Jump Heights Divisions: Dogs are measured at the withers to determine which jump height they will be competing in. Heights are 4″, 8″, 12″, 16″, 20″ & 24″.
Cocker Spaniel Takes on Westminster
How to Get Started with Dog Agility
Multiple Dogs Means More Fun
Height has four dogs, making this a family affair. She has a total of three Cocker Spaniels and a miniature American Shepherd. Her eight-year-old Cocker, Maximillion, was too stressed out in the trial environment, so she stopped training and just does it at home for fun with him. She reminds pet parents that no matter what you do with your dog, enjoy every day you have with them and have fun with them.
“Our dogs only want to be with us and give us their unconditional love at all times,” she respectfully reminds.
Maggie Mae is the family’s 13-years-young Cocker Spaniel that Height adopted after fostering her for two years. “Maggie Mae is my sweet little blind girl and queen of the house,” she says.
Zip-A-Dee is her two-year- old miniature American Shepherd. Zip-A-Dee started his agility training from the day we brought him home at eight weeks old. He started competing in May of 2017.
“I feel that Patches, Zip-A-Dee and I have formed a great bond though agility, and we love playing the game together,” she reflects.
Nancy, we are incredibly proud of you and your pack. Congratulations and we look forward to following your adventures and reporting back to Fidose of Reality followers.
Don’t Stop Now
Learn More About Getting Started with Dog Agility
In related news: American Cocker Spaniel Striker Scores Big at Westminster
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