Bringing Home a Brussels Griffon
Veterinarian Christina Coudret had never heard of the Brussels Griffon breed until a technician she worked with at a veterinarian clinic was fostering for the National Brussels Griffon Rescue.
Soon after, Christina brought home her first Brussels Griffon, Wylie, from the rescue around 2009. Unfortunately, Wylie died at eight years old due to kidney failure.
But Christina knew she needed another Brussels Griffon in her life. That’s why after researching responsible breeders, she added 14-month-old Kirby to the family.
Though Brussels Griffons are a member of the toy group, these small dogs pack a big personality. Kirby is no different. He has a huge personality and an expressive face, which will always let you know where you stand with him.
When Christina noticed Kirby was having problems around big dogs, she took Kirby to obedience training at the Columbus All-Breed Training Club. After seeing how much fun Kirby had learning obedience, Christina wanted to keep the good times going. She had never competed in dog sports before but gave it a try.
“It just all kind of rolled from there,” she says. “We had so much fun and that turned into Rally.”
After Rally, the duo launched into Agility, Good Canine Citizen, and Trick Dog. Kirby is now working on his Masters in Agility.
“I think tricks are probably his favorite because he is all about the treats,” she says. “He likes getting the immediate treat reward.”
Brussels Griffons are loyal little dogs. Like many other Brussels Griffons, Kirby doesn’t like to be lonely. He “loves everyone” but is also a true “Velcro dog,” preferring to stick to Christina’s side.
He’s a “number one snuggler” that has a surprising amount of stamina in his small frame — often energetically hiking on camping trips, even at 11,500 feet altitude in Maroon Bells, Colorado.
“I just like spending time with my dog and having that bonding experience. I think doing all the variety of sports helps with that,” Christina says. “He’s just one of those dogs that you can’t look at without smiling or laughing.”
What’s Next For Kirby
Christina had just started trialing Kirby in late winter when, like many other dog athletes, their plans were interrupted by COVID-19.
“Not only could we not trial, but we couldn’t take classes or train anymore either. So things really got put on hold for a while,” she says.
In the meantime, they’ve been training at home, completing Trick Dog titles virtually, and sharing their progress as an AKC Dog Star on Instagram.
“I enjoy letting people know that even an unconventional breed can compete in dog sports,” she says.
Though they were interrupted by COVID, Christina’s goals remain the same — to have fun and bond with her canine companion.
For Christina, it’s not about the competition (though she would like Kirby to qualify for the AKC Agility Invitational). It’s about the bonding time.
“I love working together as a team. We aren’t speedy enough to be super competitive but we have a lot of fun!”
Christina’s even involved Kirby’s little sister, Levicy, in Agility. Her husband’s hunting dog, a field-bred English Cocker Spaniel, is loving it so far.
When they’re not training, Kirby and Levicy go hiking in local Ohio State Parks or take grand hiking adventures in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Arizona.
Getting Started in Dog Sports
Christina’s advice for anyone looking to participate in dog sports is to find a local club that will help you train your dog. She recommends starting with a solid foundation of obedience.
“I think finding a club or instructors that use positive reinforcement is pretty important,” Christina says.
Anyone can get started in dog sports. A local trainer, club, or mentor can help introduce you to these activities and help you figure out which dog sport is best for you.
Think your dog has what it takes to be Dog Athlete of the Month? Use the hashtag #ThisIsAKC on Instagram.