Meet Meghan Ponton: Meeting Agility Goals
Name: Meghan Ponton
Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
Family: Parents, Steve and Becky Ponton
Once Meghan Ponton began her dog training career with her family’s first dog, she never looked back. She improvised with what she found around the house to make jumps, and it wasn’t long before she built her own full-scale agility equipment. With Dash (Dash of Schooler’s Hill RN AX AXJ OF), she already has some impressive achievements, including being chosen to represent team USA on the Junior Open Agility World Championship (JOAWC) team for AKC in Finland 2020.
AKC: How old is Dash and how did he come into your life?
Dash is 2 years old. We are heavily involved in our local dog rescue (the Old Dominion Humane Society), and we started fostering Dash. Within a few days I knew I wanted to adopt him, and I did just that. He was 5 months old when we adopted him.
AKC: What got you started in training and competing with dogs? Tell us about what dog training has meant to you.
I became interested in dog training with our first family dog, Tosh, an Australian Shepherd mix. I saw a video of agility and was hooked. I made makeshift jumps out of brooms and chairs. Then I got more serious about being competitive in agility, so I built lots of equipment and went for it. I competed in some agility trials with one of our dogs (Shiloh). But my real success came when I got Dash. Dog training is my escape from school and work. It allows me to create a better connection with my dogs, and it is something I truly enjoy. Without it I am not sure what I would be doing today.
AKC: Is your family involved in dog training/showing?
My family is not involved in competing with the dogs. I have trained all of our dogs, but my family definitely helps with the following of rules in the house. For example: Dogs not running out the door and waiting until called, putting the dogs back on place if they get off, etc.
AKC: What sports does Dash compete in and what titles/honors has he earned?
Dash is an impressive little guy. His first competition was in Rally in the summer 2018. I took him along because I was working on getting titles with my other dog, Shiloh. Dash got his Novice title and qualified for the AKC Rally National Championship that year. Then, once he was old enough and ready to compete, we started agility. Our first competition was in March of 2019. He had his Masters titles by that November and qualified for the 2020 AKC National Agility Championship in Perry, GA, which was exciting because the competition was set to be on his one-year trial anniversary. Dash and I were also chosen to represent team USA on the Junior Open Agility World Championship team for AKC in Finland.
AKC: Tell us about any other dogs you may have – names, ages and what sports they compete in.
Sadie is one of my other dogs; she is 8 years old and does not compete. She is an American Staffordshire Terrier/Chow Chow mix. Shiloh is 7 years old and a Boxer/hound mix. She competed in rally, earning her Novice title in 2018.
AKC: Do you own any “non-dog” pets?
We have one cat named Evie, who is a calico.
AKC: What are your goals in the sport of dogs?
I have many goals in agility. With Dash I hope to return next year and compete on Team USA in Portugal 2021, since the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19. We also hope to compete at the UKI US Open in November and to try out for the World Agility Open (WAO) team for the junior spot. We are going to attend the European Open Team tryout in November to have a good time running fun courses. I will be adding another Border Collie to the family this summer and I have huge goals with that dog to make world teams.
AKC: Do you plan do to something animal related as a career?
I do not plan to train dogs as my main career in life. I plan to work at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the behavioral analysis unit. But I am sure if agility finds me success and people like my handling, I would like to teach classes at night or on weekends.
AKC: What extracurricular activities are you involved in addition to dog sports?
Competing in dog agility doesn’t leave much time for other extracurricular activities on top of school and work, but I enjoy running as a hobby, which allows me to stay in shape for agility.
I want to add that I would not be where I am in agility without my parents’ support and my wonderful coaches and training partners at Level Up Dog Sports.