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The spotlight shines on two Bulldogs showing the world how athletic this breed can be. Not only do Stella and Lola shine in agility, they jump off docks, swim, chase lures and hunt for rats in Barn Hunt! Both girls run on League teams at Dayton Dog Training Club. Their owner & trainer, Lucy Hayes, tell us more about competing in sports with this loveable breed.

Call Names, Ages & Registered Names:

  • Lola, 2 years, CH Sure shot Harmonix Whatever Lola Wants FDC NAP NJP NFP CGCU RATN TKI

Owner/handler name: Lucy Hayes

City/state: Dayton, Ohio

League Team names & division: Stella is on Run DDTC & Lola is on Bow We Wow. Both teams are in Regulation Senior.

How did you discover the Bulldog & what about the breed appeals to you? I grew up with Boxers and a Bulldog; we definitely had a love for jowly breeds with personality. I found that the playfulness and quirky personality of a Bulldog was a great fit and, though they do need physical activity, they don’t require nearly as much as a Boxer does.

What led you to start training your Bulldogs in agility? Stella had such energy and drive to play. She was biting our ankles, and it was clear we needed some puppy training classes! Upon taking her to Dayton Dog Training Club, Stella showed she had a great propensity to learn quickly, and she enjoyed it. A teacher recommended she may enjoy agility, and I was intrigued and wanted to have an activity to build my bond with her.

What are they like to train and compete with? It’s a misconception that Bulldogs are hard to train or lack intelligence. They are very smart and respond best to positive reinforcement, as it’s nearly impossible to get a Bulldog to do something they don’t want to do. Finding ways to make training fun and reinforcements exciting makes training them a very rewarding experience.

Stella, being my first Bulldog I have done agility with, has taught me to never underestimate the skills she is capable of learning. If anything, she had to wait for me to gain the right skills as her trainer/handler. Lola has definitely benefited from me being more experienced for her agility journey.

Running a Bulldog requires choosing handling styles that support motion. They don’t love having a lot of abrupt deceleration in handling, so I rely on strong sends and obstacle commitment so that I can start showing the motion towards the next obstacle coming, and the dog can adjust her strides to make appropriate turns.

Are there challenges that you face with running a brachycephalic breed in agility? Brachys can overheat easily, as their nasal cavities don’t allow them to cool down when their body heats up from physical exertion and their breathing gets heavier. I rarely train or run agility outside, instead we compete and train indoors in climate-controlled environments. In addition, weight management is extremely important, as it isn’t fair to ask them to take on such a physically demanding sport carrying any extra weight on their already heavy boned and muscled structure. The next important thing is to be mindful of how I use my training time, as short sessions are better for quality training. I swim both dogs regularly for a low joint impact conditioning and do regular fitness exercises with them.

Do Stella & Lola compete in other sports?

Yes, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, Fast CAT. Stella is the fastest all-time female bulldog in AKC Fast CAT at 21.21 mph. Her personal best dock diving distance jump is 14’6”. Stella absolutely loves swimming and dock diving. Lola is young so we haven’t started her in Fast CAT yet, but she absolutely loves swimming and has started jumping off low docks. In Barn Hunt, she is showing strong drive and loves climbing the hay bales.

What is their favorite reward and favorite past-time?

They both “lovvve” playing with their toys, particularly balls, and having them thrown for them to chase and retrieve. Both girls adore swimming and anything to do with water sports.

What do you like best about being on a League team?

The camaraderie and support are amazing. We playfully push each other to try things out of our comfort zone, and I think we have all grown so much from sharing the experience together. It is an experience unlike any other I have had in agility, and I feel so fortunate we’ve found this program.

Future goals?

I’d like to complete Stella’s PACH title so that we can attend Westminster before she gets much older. She loves ISC courses, so we will probably focus on those trials more when they are available. My goals for Lola are to just take it day by day and get our foundations solidly built while making sure she is having a great time.

Anything else?

Finding agility to be a sport I can participate in and build a connection with my dogs as teammates and training partners has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, especially being able to be an advocate of Bulldogs as a breed and showing how athletic and capable they are when they are kept healthy and are bred responsibly. I am very proud that Lola is a conformation champion and is now making her way in agility and other sports.