By Emilee Cragg
My name is Emilee Cragg. I am 13 years old and live in Alaska. I have always been passionate about dogs. I started training my first dog, Rosco, an Australian Shepherd, when I was 10 years old. In February of 2015, I decided it was time for a new agility dog and flew down to Missouri and picked up Dash, a Miniature Schnauzer.
Dog training class was always the highlight of my week. Dash was a smart puppy, and we moved at a very fast pace. Soon we were both learning many new skills, such as Dante’s, Jaakko’s, and Lap turn’s.
Because agility equipment is expensive, and I wanted to train more than just at class, I decided to make my own equipment. For example, I made my own mini 3-foot-long mini teeter and jumps from pvc piping and 5 gallon buckets. I made a “tire jump” from a hula hoop attached to two trees.
Dash provided me many challenging training opportunities. When Dash started knocking bars, I put shoes down in two lines about a foot apart with a bar across each shoe and made him go as fast as he could through them. The purpose was so Dash would pay attention to his stride and make sure to jump high enough so as he would not knock down the bar. Some other challenges were different teeter totters. He only wanted to go up the one at class and feared other teeters. We worked a lot on overcoming his fear by giving him tons of treats as he went up the teeter. (I think he gained half a pound in weight from all those treats!) Also, Dash loves to bark and would forget what weave pole he was on because of his intense barking. Sometimes, he would even get distracted barking at the people around the agility course. Recently at an agility seminar, I learned that if I keep eye contact almost all the time, he is less likely to bark and more likely to stay with me. It’s cool to think about the fact that Dash is helping train me as well. When I stop connecting with him, he starts barking.
Despite some training obstacles, our trials this summer have gone well. Dash and I competed a total of eight trial days spread out over the summer. We won 9 clean run ribbons, 5 first place ribbons, 1 second place ribbon, and 1 title ribbon. Each event was a new adventure. I think we did awesome over the summer. With consistent training from my amazing agility teacher, Cindy Mildbrand, my goal is to compete in Reno, Nevada for the AKC National Agility Championships. I believe I have a true champion.