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Junior Spotlight

Junior Report: Charlotte Burns

I have two AKC dogs, a Sheltie named Tui and a Eurohound (English Pointer/German Shorthair Pointer/Alaskan Husky) named Nessie. I love agility, and I know my dogs love it as much as I do! Where I live, there are four distinct seasons; rainy Spring, hot Summer, blustery Fall, and snowy Winter; because of this, I must be creative with my agility training and the health of my animals.

In my perspective, agility is a great physical and mental exercise for both the handler and the dog. For the handler, you must learn how to control, trust, and bond with your dog.

In return, the dog must follow, trust, and watch the handler. It takes precision, but with practice, it almost becomes routine.

My sheltie, Tui, performs best in cold temperatures, but there are very few agility trials in the Winter where I live. Instead, to keep my dogs fit during Winter, I learned how to Skijor. Skijoring is a sport where a dog pulls you on Nordic skis. Both the dog and the human wear a harness, and you are attached with a bungee cord. Skijoring takes a lot of training and trust as well because you must be able to stay upright on skis and give directions to your sprinting dog when going upwards of 30 MPH!

In the Summer, the dogs overheat quickly when practicing agility, so instead, I’ve trained Tui to fetch sticks from the pond and Nessie to pull an object while swimming (another sport called supjoring). Eurohounds are bred to pull, so it’s a natural match:  Sheltie on top of the paddleboard, Eurohound pulling paddleboard.

Cross-training has helped me and my dogs cope with the new living situation we’re all adjusting to. Because agility trials have been canceled for the Spring and early Summer due to Covid-19, I’ve been working towards trick titles at home in my backyard. I believe all positive human-to-dog interactions are a great way to help you build the trust and confidence needed to reach your AKC goals.