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Rocky the Poodle, Jet the Labrador Retriever, and Gretzky the All-American dog started with Agility Course Test (ACT) events before making it to the National Agility Championship. Photos by Herreid Photography, Mike Mulloy, and Start Line Dog Sports

Stepping into an Agility course for the first time can be scary. The thought of competing at the National Agility Championship can be even more intimidating. But the fact is that every competitor at the AKC National Agility Championship began somewhere. And for a few National Agility Championship competitors, they began with an Agility Course Test (ACT).

ACT is an entry-level agility event designed to introduce and welcome beginning dogs and their handlers to the AKC sport of agility without pressure or stress. Meet three dogs competing at the National Agility Championship who got their start at an ACT event.

Gretzky — All American Dog

MACH2 Gretzky The Great One depup MXG MJG XF T2B ACT1 CGC TKI

Age: 8

Jump height: 8 inches

From: Lombard, Illinois

Owner: Maria Sutjiamin

What made you decide to go from ACT to entering AKC agility competitions?
I was eager to continue competing in any AKC trial to test our ability, the club didn’t have plan to offer ACT2, so after some encouragement from our instructor, I decided to enter our first AKC competition.

How did your experience in ACT impact your experience in agility trials?
Since we were a Novice A team, our ACT experience helped us with some of the basics of AKC trials (being crated while we waited for our runs, walking the course, check-in). There were still gaps that we had to learn as we entered more AKC trials.

Did you ever imagine you would be at the national championship when you first got started?
Not at all! Six months before our first national, I learned for the first time that it was a possibility!

What is one fun fact about your dog? 
Gretzky was named after Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time.

Rocky — Poodle

Adelheid’s Rocky Mountain Pinion MX MXB MXJ ACT1

Photo by Herreid Photography

Age: 5

Jump height: 16 inches

From: Prior Lake, Minnesota

Owner: Elizabeth Penning

What made you decide to go from ACT to entering AKC agility competitions?
I learned about the ACT test from Michelle Persian! It was a great place to start out with my young dog.

How did your experience in ACT impact your experience in agility trials?
Rocky is my third agility competition dog so I already knew a lot about AKC before trying the ACT with him.

Did you ever imagine you would be at the national championship when you first got started?
I had no idea I would ever enter NAC when I first started agility!

What is one fun fact about your dog? 
He is my first really FAST dog and he makes me WORK for every Q!

Jet — Labrador Retriever

MACH Rhumbline’s Perfect Timing PCD BN RI JH MXS MJB OF ACT1 CGC TKA

Photo by Mike Mulloy

Age: 5

Jump height: 20 inches

From: Tully, New York

Owner: Lisa Hanley

What made you decide to go from ACT to entering AKC agility competitions?
I had always intended to compete in AKC agility with Jet. It was a matter of determining when he was ready to compete. The ACT gave me an opportunity to assess his skills and maturity level.

How did your experience in ACT impact your experience in agility trials?
It gave us the opportunity to see how Jet would perform in trials when he was ready. I waited another couple more months after the ACT to enter him in his first trial.

Did you ever imagine you would be at the national championship when you first got started?
Honestly no, I had hoped we would get there but nothing is ever a guarantee in life. Jet has become a very consistent partner and our hard work paid off with not only his qualifying for the NAC but his MACH. My first ever!

What is one fun fact about your dog? 
Jet loves to paddleboard! He has always loved water. He started riding the board when he was 6 months old. He has fabulous balance and is very comfortable just lying on the board while we tool around the lake.

Get Started in Agility

The Agility Course Test (ACT) is an entry-level agility event designed to introduce and welcome beginning dogs and their handlers to the AKC sport of agility. Any dog 15 months or older can participate — they do not need to be AKC-registered at the time of entry. Find an upcoming ACT event near you.

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