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A funny thing happened...

Going back to the origins of agility when the motto of the sport was (and still is)  'Agility is fun,' no one took it seriously - well, hardly any one. It was just a thing to do on the weekend. Run around with your dog and have a laugh with your mates. One has to have a sense of humour to do agility, right? Here are some stories that hope will put a smile on your face. Has anything amusing happened to you, your partner or a friend? Go on. Make us smile. Tell all. Email your stories. Here are some amusing tales to start you off.

Agility Fly Past Serendipity
From Richard Partridge

Sir -

On Saturday, 11 June I celebrated becoming an old age pensioner. As it happened, I was spending the weekend at Newbury Showground, attending a major Dog Agility Competition Weekend with my wife and our dogs. Since many friends were at the same event we organised a bit of a thrash, my birthday being a pretty good excuse.

As our guests arrived at about 7.00pm, a sound was heard from above which materialised into a very neat formation of bright red aircraft bearing RAF roundels. Amazingly as they came over the boundary to the Showground  - or so it seemed - the coloured smoke came on, and it went off as they left. My guests were all truly astonished when I told them that it was arranged purely for their benefit, although some seemed to receive this information with a degree of scepticism!!

I have now looked up the schedule for the Reds on that day and can easily see they were extremely busy, so can you please pass on my special thanks for providing the impromptu display.

I am looking forward to enjoying the full display when I go to the Grand Prix at Silverstone, a pressie from my offspring for my significant birthday. I will give the boys a special wave. You can tell them I will be wearing a straw panama hat so they can recognise me!

Best wishes
Richard Partridge

 Richard -

 Thank you for your email. I have passed it on to the team.

 As you say the team's schedule is a very busy one and we do incorporate requested flypasts into their transits. However, if they do see a large public event taking place when they are flying close by, they will perform an impromptu flypast with smokes on if they have them available. This is what occurred on Saturday at Newbury. The team will be very pleased that their efforts did not go unnoticed and were appreciated. I hope you enjoy their full display at the forthcoming Grand Prix.

Kindest regards
 June Austin
RAF Events Team

Mr Partridge -

Thank you for your kind email to June Austin at the RAF Events Team. We did see your event from the aircraft and we were worried we had overflown a large horse trial.  Iím,  therefore, glad that you were pleased to see us, and that it was dogs, not horses! We were lining up for an official flypast at another venue, and happened to have planned a run-in point near your event.  Normally we transit in two sections of 5 aircraft, but you saw us all together as we progressed towards the other flypast.

For future reference, you can apply for a flypast for an event such as the dog agility event, using a form that is easily found on the official Red Arrows web site. We canít guarantee getting there, as quite a bit of luck is needed that we will be in your rough area on the date in question, but it's free and it's worth a shot for the sake of filling in the form!

Graeme Bagnall
Squadron Leader - Red 10

Overheard in the Ring...
From Anni Telford

Just thought we'd share an amusing moment with you all from the Cornwall show.

Tony Griffin, who was judging, gave his briefing for Intermediate agility. Mainly the usual course time standard rules stuff, but then Tony went on to inform us all that the schedules for the FCI World Champs were out and anyone who's dog was vaccinated and microwaved was eligible to enter. Les Wills and I took one look at each other to check we'd heard the same thing and then dissolved. Way to go, Tony!

Agility Dogs are Smart But...

Discovered on a show schedule which shall remain nameless...

Quote: 'Each dog entered in the Pairs must have completed a signed entry form.'

Unquote: Obedience lessons with a biro begin on Monday!

Crop Circles - The Mystery Solved
From Andy Farrington & Anni (going demented) Telford

Contrary to popular rumour and myth, crop circles are not caused by bored farmers out of their skulls on home grown waccy baccy nor aliens making a real mess of their landing spacecraft skills. They are caused by us, agility people.

Here are two of the best theories...

1. Crop circles are caused by hundreds and hundreds of agility handlers walking around in circles on agility courses up and down the country, spending dozens and dozens of hours debating if Advanced handlers should be in or out of Intermediate classes or what type of fish (dead or alive) is best for training your dog with... and it's puzzled people for ages. (24/07/02)

2. Nonsense... Crop circles are caused by show secretaries running around in circles and pulling their hair out whilst they try to sort out the people who haven't put their name on their camping form, signed their entry, forgotten their dogs KC number, not signed the cheque, whilst answering the mobile to the people who ring up to find out if their mates have entered, why they haven't got a camping pass, their running orders (forgot to send the 30p), the directions to the show, and if there will be clear round rosettes in mini starters jumping 'cause there wasn't at such and such a show. Arrrrrrgggghhhhhh! And if anyone says I have too much time on my hands I know a man with a gun! (25/07/02)

Three Stories
From Angela Lucas

From Angela Lucas...
I have three stories to share about Teams, Pairs and Games.

1. ABC Team

A group of us made a team for a show held in Aldershot.  It was a Weimaraner, Doberman, Rough Collie and my GSD.  We were due to be one of the last teams and we were all in Starters at the time. 

About an hour before we were due to run, I had gone back to the vehicle where my gannet of a GSD was and let him off for a wee.  He disappeared and I heard my mate shouting.  Charlie had gone and ransacked his weekend rations!

There was debate about running him - I decided to give it a go. The best score was from a quad of intermediate superior competitors with collies.  We lined up, dog no.1 - clear.  Dog no. 2 clear. Dog no. 3 usually has a dodgy scale - clear.  My dog no 4 with someone else tea in him - clear!  We won  the team event and I still have that cup!

2. The impossible poodle

I was entered in a pairs class with my friend Jackie.   It was a wet day and the ground was mucky.  My friend with her trusty dog Meggie went round this jumping course and swapped with me.  I set off with the Poodle (who is a Midi competing at Standard height).  Things are going kay until the last fence.  He stops.  Dead. Doesn't move.  I wave him on.  No effort.  I shout go on.  Nothing.

Refusal No 1.  Jackie starts calling him.  No doesn't work.  I try recalling him.  Don't like the  jump, goes to walk round.  I stop him.  Judge is laughing now.  Refusal 2. 

After equalling the course time for two dogs, he finally makes the last jump.  I have never found out why he stopped.  He never told me.

3. The sausage game

The Game for a laugh class at Burgess goes back to the good old days when we had to run our dogs in flippers or use hula hoops.

One year, my dear old GSD (the gannet) and I were in the queue.  All my mates, knowing his habit were literally taking bets on the side that he would eat all the sausages lined up in front of him.  Wrong!  He left those alone (what a well trained dog!)

As we crossed the finish line, instead of slowing up, he gained speed and headed straight for the score table where the spare supplies had just arrived. There was complete bedlam and flying sausages, tickets and tables in danger of collapse as he shovelled as many off the trays as he could before being caught. Those were the days of agility! 

My final note is on two occasions while my Midi worked the standard height we did two memorable clear agility rounds, only to find were 5 seconds out of time.  Those were the worst rounds of my life, because he couldn't have tried harder and I couldn't have made him go faster all because the course times set.  After the second one, I never put my poodle into another standard class again. 

Hope these snippets are of interest.  I certainly found the other ones fun to read.

The Derby Twister: A Strange but True Tale!
From Andy Farrington (PR Officer - Derbyshire DAC)

Derbyshire's 1999 agility show on the 31st July and 1st August basked in temperatures rarely seen in the UK when the thermometer touched 85 degrees (F) on Saturday and peeked at 90 degrees (F) on Sunday, although more freak weather conditions were to come before the end of the show.

At about 2.00pm on the Sunday afternoon, a piece of agility history was made when the showground was hit by a tornado - this time, it was the weather kind rather than the Jo Rhodes and Kelbie kind. Approaching across the nearby A38, the funnel of wind which was already carrying a pile of debris, grass and paper and then it decided to lift a garden umbrella out of it's stand and carry it some 60 feet into the air. Clearly the tornado was reaping a vengeance on the owner who was just taking an afternoon rest after working hard the previous day on a ring party.

The umbrella was twirled some 350 feet through the show ground. At first some competitors were more concerned about the stupidity of someone flying a kite over the rings at an agility show, bfore they realised the potential danger it represented to all the handlers and dogs. The umbrella landed briefly in Rings 3 and 2, and then it finally came to rest in Ring 1, judged by Keith Brookes who managed to stop a dog and competitor running into the ring to judge it. After clearing several jumps, the umbrella unfortunately missed a contact point incurring 5 faults and knocked down a couple of jumps for a total of 15 faults which proved to be quite a lot better than some handlers on such a hot day.

The tornado then proceeded past the Secretary's tent, missing it only by inches, probably because the Show Secretary had taken out insurance for such an occasion. It proceeded to hit a transit van next door, partly ripping a tarpaulin from the roof and scaring the hell out of the dogs inside. It then moved through the club camping area battering several caravans and cars in it's path before leaving the show ground for a residential area, never to be seen again.

After retrieving his umbrella intact, the owner John Gilbert admitted to seeing it flying through the air and thinking It looked familiar and very much like his own. Thankfully John didn't get caught up in the tornado with his umbrella to give everyone his own rendition of Mary Poppins!

After a very short and impromptu DDAC committee meeting, Tornado Annabelle was named and the Derbyshire Show became the first agility show in the UK to be hit by a twister and survive with no damage. Needless to say when everyone had gone home at 6 o'clock on Sunday night British weather returned, the heavens opened and torrential rain hit the showground providing welcome relief for the dogs and those remaining behind to clear away.

At the end of the show, the Secretary was heard to say that she had booked lots of sunshine for the show but couldn't remember putting a cross in the boxes where it said 'Do you want a tornado or torrential rain?' Still, you can't remember everything when you're running a show, can you?

 The Very Good Dog
From Anni Telford

In the run up to our show in 1998, I received a phone call from a gentleman from deepest Devon. He had one of those rich rolling accents.

The conversation ran a bit like this:-

Competitor: I'm just filling in this here schedule and I'm not quite sure what classes my dog's eligible for, so can you help me sort it out?

Show Secretary: Of course, I can. Has your dog been to a show before?

Competitor: He has indeed. This will be his second show.

Show Secretary: Right, so how did you and your dog get on at the show?

Competitor: Oh, he's a very good dog, a very good dog indeed.

Show Secretary: Did you win anything?

Competitor: We did indeed, my maid.

Show Secretary: (Taking a deep breath) Right, so if you tell me what you won, I'll be able to tell you what classes you can enter at our show.

Competitor:- Got you. Well, we won a bottle of wine in the raffle.

The Watford Agility Show from the Perspective of a Damp Ring Manager
From Stephanie King

Lincolnsfield Playing Fields witnessed a kind of concentrated insanity on Saturday, 24 October 1998 as agility folk demonstrated exactly to what lengths they will go to pursue their sport of choice. We probably should have known after being an April weather casualty that the weather gods wouldn't let it go that easily.

Friday was okay. Just the odd shower. Sunday was great, but on the big day it rained, and it rained, and it rained. I thought we had thought of everything, but when putting together the list of vital show equipment no one thought hmmm...jumps, tents, ring ropes, rosettes, and oh, and don't forget the ark!

The show must go on
There was a stylish display of the latest in wet weather gear and much discussion of the merits of the waxed jacket versus more hi-tech fabrics. Now here was an event for Barbour to sponsor! It was notable how people's dress in the ring changed over the day. In the morning lots of soggy overcoats were dumped in our tent while their brave owners went out in their sweatshirts as per 'good practice'. By the afternoon no-one was foolish enough to try this stunt and success was measured by one's ability to run in lots of soaking wet overclothing. I didn't worry too much about treats in pockets - I would have been amazed if they had survived the soaking. My overcoat supply was converted to porridge within an hour of arrival and covered the schedule and other documents in there in a delightful coat of gunge.

In the Helter Skelter ring we saw some amazing displays of courage under spray, plus a few wet dogs in the queue trying to tunnel into the tent, having quite obviously had enough. Poor lambs! That's one thing I will say for the rain, it sorted out the dogs from the pups. The benefits of a forward working dog were very apparent in my ring as we feeble two-legged ones tried to stay upright in the mud. However, just in case some are feeling smug at this point, an enormous number of these decided to take the Number Two obstacle again and get eliminated while their handlers tried to get there in one piece.

A special mention here to my own ballistic Heinz 57, the lovely Oh Rosie!, for getting eliminated by doing Number One again instead of Number Two. I am reliably informed that this was unique, and was actually quite a difficult elimination to achieve under the circumstances.

The spray flying off the collapsible tunnel was quite spectacular. Not a few dogs changed their mind halfway down the canvas and went into reverse gear. Some were obviously just not having a good time in the mud and constant downpour, but most dogs still gave it 100%, which I think says a lot about how much dogs enjoy their agility. I don't think I will forget the poor dog which frantically circled on the table looking for a dry bit to jump off onto. By this time, it was surrounded by a sea of mud. The dog jumped off eventually, but I think if it could it would have closed its eyes and held its nose.

By the end of the day the dog's feet had disappeared into the mud up to their ankles (do dogs have ankles?) but the brave handlers and soggy dogs just kept coming. A lot of people left early, and this was probably quite a wise decision - they got out before cars started getting stuck - but many stuck it out to the bitter end. I have to give all credit (and more) to the army cadets here. They spent the afternoon pushing, pulling, and otherwise extracting mired vehicles from the field. I saw one overcommitted lad go down face first at one stage. Drivers of 4-wheel drive vehicles also proved worth their weight in gold.

Behind Every Cloud
I would like to congratulate Ian Stowers, the judge in my ring, for staying smiling to the end, and also his timekeeper. Both must have caught even more individual rain drops than I did. In fact, everyone working on the ring was a pleasure to work with and made the best of trying circumstances. Thank you to Reg and Audrey for getting us all into this. I know that organising something like this can be a thankless task and you did a great job. Well done to Alan Baxter, who eventually won the class, and thank you to all the competitors who cheerfully kept going. You all deserved medals for fortitude and a straitjacket for actually going through with it.

A cheering thought though... this was the last outdoor show this year. We can all look up at a roof with a sigh of relief for the rest of the season. To those weather gods up there - ha, ha, we did it anyway. We Watfordians don't give up easily.

The reason?
A. Too much courage
B. No brains

Answers on a postcard please.
The prize? - A bucket of rainwater collected on the day.

I had one final thought as we cleared up (getting a quart of equipment into a pint pot of trailers in the process), 'I wonder what the Council are going to say about that field?'
Stylish rainwear by Country Mun. For a selection of good quality, British made doggie accessories, visit

Never Never Run Your Wife's Dog
From Clive Hildersley (Still married!)

I don't know if this is a case for congratulations, commiserations or near divorce. On Sunday, 15th August, the day of the Honiton show, my wife Fran is not feeling well so she stays at home with our son George. I take my dog Basil.

'Shall I take your dogs? I say.

'Yes,' says Fran. 'but don't do too well, will you?

Basil runs well but gets five faults. Fran's young dog Bo does very well but gets 10 faults. Fran's Briar who runs constantly well but has never got higher than 3rd ran brilliantly.

'I'll take the scribe sheets to the score tent,' I say taking a quick peep at Briar's time (as you do). 37.25 was that all? I thought. 'Never mind, she did run well.

I saw Angie Williams walking across to the rings later. She said, Well done! Brilliant round.'

'Thought she was quicker,'I said.

'32.25 was quick enough to be in the lead,' she said.

'What!?#'! I said, dashing over to the score tent.

She was right. I had misread the time and Briar was in the lead. What do I do? I know Fran said not to do too well but is winning Novice Agility doing well?'

Fran rings to find out how we are doing.

'OK.' I say.

How did Briar do?

'Had a good round in Novice Agility,' I said. 'Speak to you later when I find out where she came.

People keep saying, 'Have you told Fran yet?'

'No,' I say.

'Chicken,' they say.

Fran rings again (thought she was not well). 'How did Briar do?' she asks again.

Wellllll... she came First,'I said.

'Oh,' Fran said.

'I couldn't help it,' I said. 'It was Briar's fault. She ran too well!

I think I got away with it.

'Well, don't do it again!' Fran said.

P.S. Thank the lucky stars, Briar got five in jumping.

The moral of the story is... Never run your wife or partners dog or rather don't win. Divorce is a costly business.


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