Music: Man on
the Flying Trapeze
Midi sequence from :Lauras Midi Heaven
BICHONS ACROSS CANADA
AG.M.CH. Normandy's China Doll, who (at just
Pictured above. at an AAC agility trial the
Congratulations Karen for making Agility
MOORE and her Bichons
ATChC Normandy's China Doll, AG.X.J., AG.M.X., MSCDC.
Normandy's Princess Sascha, MADC, AG.X.J., AG.M.X.
(Some photographs by Kevin Potvin)
Above: Karen and *China
*Agility Trial Champion of Canada
May 15, 2004
BICHONS AND AGILITY
By Karen Moore
Revised March 2008
Bichons in agility???????
That basically sums up the general reaction that we were met with the first time that I stepped into the ring with China, in the Spring of 2000. In an “all breed” sport generally dominated by Border Collies, Shelties, Australian Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers, it was a sight that had never been seen before, at least not here in Ontario, Canada. Who would have thought it? But I knew better – China and I had been training together for three years prior to starting to compete, and I knew how much she loved the game.
Not being what you’d call an athletic person, I had never intended to compete in the sport, only to take lessons and spend some time just playing with my dog. Little did I know, though, that I had unwittingly been referred to one of the top trainers and competitors in all of North America for lessons. I remember to this day the initial call that I made to her, inquiring about classes for China. I had never seen competitive agility, and we chatted for quite awhile before she asked me what breed of dog I had. I told her, and you could have heard a pin drop! The silence seemed to last forever. But I think that in the end she wanted to challenge both herself and me, and to her credit she took us on for private lessons.
Both China (who is now 12 1/2 years old) and Sascha (two years her junior) began their agility training around age two, after having completed Basic Obedience training, since the main pre-requisites are “off-leash control” and “play drive.” We continue our training routine weekly to this day, plus backyard sessions in between. And yes, my yard DOES look like a doggie playground – the surrounding neighbours are constantly requesting demos for their guests!
There are two main agility organizations that are purely Canadian: The Canadian Kennel Club (“CKC”) and The Agility Association of Canada (“AAC”). As well, several clubs in Canada host A recent arrival from the USA is Canine Performance Events (“CPE”). As well, several clubs in Canada host trials sanctioned under a couple of different American organizations. Only registered purebred dogs are allowed to compete in CKC agility, whereas the AAC allows any dog over the age of 18 months to compete. While the equipment and rules are very similar, there are some differences and each organization publishes a full rule book. AAC agility is more complicated, with 5 Games in addition to “Standard” runs – the dog must meet certain requirements (i.e. - a number of perfect scores) at each of the Starters (Novice), Advanced and Masters levels in each stream in order to earn its Championship. Junior Handling has also become very popular in the past couple of years.
China has made history in both Canadian organizations. She became the first Bichon Frise to earn the CKC’s top “Master Excellent” title (“AgMX”) in November, 2003 at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Sascha earned hers exactly a week later at the same venue. Both dogs seemed to get a “charge” out of performing for a wildly cheering crowd, and have done well in public agility demonstrations that we have assisted with as well.
In May, 2004 China went on to be the first (and still the only) Bichon in the Regular division to earn the AAC’s highest award, “Agility Trial Champion of Canada” (“ATChC”). And in August, 2007, at almost 12 years of age, she also became the fifth dog in Canada (all breeds) and the first Bichon Frise to earn the CKC’s highest award, “Agility Master Champion.” (“Ag.M.CH.”) A Champion she truly is!
She has consistently qualified to attend the AAC’s National Championships held annually in various venues across the country. Both dogs competed at the Nationals in Montreal in 2004, with China placing 10th and Sascha 12th. But it was in August of 2005 that I made the decision to concentrate on my fastest dog and so I only entered China in that year’s Nationals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My goal was to better the previous year’s 10th place position – I never would have imagined that she would take me to the podium in 4th place! A very good decision indeed – and what a thrill! Amazingly enough, she recently repeated this feat in August, 2007 at the Nationals in Georgetown, Ontario - placing 4th again in her division. Today she competes in the Veterans’ Division – at a lower jump height, to assist her in being able to play the game longer.
We are currently working on China’s Gold Award of Merit title, and had been trying to finish Sascha’s ATChC. But sadly, Sascha lost a short but heroic battle with lung cancer in October, 2007 at the age of ten. Please visit her memorial page at: http://canbichon.com/rememberingsascha.
Tori (now 3 years old has recently begun to compete as well, demonstrating awesome speed, and moments of brilliance interspersed with a great deal of distraction. Look for pictures of her in action later this summer.
Speed and distance work will always be a challenge for these little dogs competing at the highest levels. However, above all else, they do have fun in the ring playing with their special person, and look forward to the inevitable specially baked treat that comes at the end of each run for trying their best, no matter the outcome.
Despite the treats, my dogs are lean and healthy, with great stamina and China has no joint ailments or shows any signs of slowing down. I attribute that to all of the physical exercise, which I’m sure is helping me to stay in shape as well. I’d love to see more Bichons in the agility ring, but must caution anyone who wishes to try: it is, without a doubt one of the most highly addictive activities on the planet! Just go to watch once – if you dare.
Written for Bichons Across Canada by Karen Moore. Copyright Karen Moore 2008, All rights reserved.
Photos from The Agility
Association of Canada National Championships 2005
(photos by Just Picture It Photography)
Karen and China (far left) on the Podium
LOOKING FOR INFORMATION
Karen recommends a visit to the following links:
What Is Agility?
The Agility Association of Canada
Waiting in the Wings
Normandy's Sweet Victory, PIT
(PIT=Puppy In Training)
Pretty as a Picture!
The above photo of Sascha and China is only
one half of a photograph.
The other half is on this website. Can you fnd it?