Never give up...

Amy Louise Joyce is a very determined and resourceful Agility Junior from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. This is her story, in her own words, about how she started Agility with her mixed breed girl Wispa and persevered against all the odds... with just a little help from her friends.

Wispa (Wispa Sweet Nothings) was about 12 months old when I started agility training. At the time, I was just 13 years old. My mum didn't seem interested and I had no way to get to classes on my own so I just trained her myself in my garden. My jumps were made from stuff like bamboo sticks over plant pots, and my weaves were just sticks in the ground.

But in June 2011, I got some Jessejump Convertible Jumps/Weaves and so I could finally train with 'proper' equipment! I taught Wispa to weaves all by myself within a few months with no help whatsoever, just me and her. We just worked on her contacts in my garden, using the 2o2o at the bottom of my steps.

Taking lessons
hen at the beginning of May, I posted something on the Agilitynet Facebook page which got me 'noticed' and on the 5 May I got a message off Brenda Tenten who runs White Rose Agility, a club local to me. Once again I tried to get my Mum to take me to the lessons, but the answer was no. As she didn't understand how much I wanted to go. She doesn't drive to places she doesnít know, and besides she had a job and was working. I tried to persuade my brother to take me to lessons, but again, the answer was no. Then a kind member of White Rose Agility offered to take me to and from lessons. My mum was naturally very wary. It took a day or so to win her round.

But finally, on the 9 May 2012, one nervous 14 year old girl and one nervous doggy turned up at White Rose Agility for our first ever agility class! We both absolutely loved it! We kept going to the lessons, but Wispa was snappy with the other dogs, and with me being incredibly nervous, it wasn't easy. I nearly gave up, but I didnít. I kept going. I was determined. We kept working hard and improved every single week we went.

First shows
Then I decided to take the plunge. We were ready. I was going to enter an agility show! If I hadn't thought Wispa was completely capable, I wouldn't of entered. On the 15 September 2012, we went to our first ever show at Delinquent Dogz, an unaffiliated show in Rotherham. Another nice member of White Rose took us and brought us back - thanks Vicky - and we came home with not one but two clears! One was in Capability Agility and the other in Capability Jumping! I was incredibly proud of her!

At our second show, another Delinquent Dogz, we came home with a 2nd in Agility and a Clear in jumping!

Little did we all know, that 26 September 2012 was to be our last agility class at White Rose Agility. Sadly we had to stop due to money and travel commitments.

Training myself
Throughout it all,
I kept training in my garden. Me being me, I was always on the lookout for a house with a bigger garden where I could do more agility! While searching  one day, I found a place I liked so I went to Google Maps and came across this garden / field thingy! It had jumps, tunnels and all the contact equipment I could wish for.

My next mission was to find out whose house it was. In December 2012, I worked up the nerve to knock on the door and ask if I could use the field. The answer was yes! And that's how at the end of December, I started traing there.

I know that I am lucky to have use of this lovely venue. The owner is now my friend and occasionally helps me but, for the most part, I am left to it. So I worked and worked and worked all winter.

More shows
My next show was NAWS, an indoor show in Harrogate in January! And we came home with a clear in Agility! I was chuffed that at every show we#d been to so far, we had come home with some nice rosettes! But that stopped. We had two more shows - both indoors. One was in February and then the other in March, but we came home with no rosettes. I was, however, really pleased with all of Wispa's runs! NAWS had a load more dogs so was very noisy and stressful for her, so I didnít expect anything.

On the 10 March 2013 I bugged my mum to drive me to a 1-2-1 at Riot Agility in Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire. It went really well, and I learned plenty of things I needed to improve on! Thanks, Jo! I have now joined the club and train there regularly.

I had my first KC show booked at Wyre, at Myerscough on the 23rd March but, because of the snow, we decided not to go as it would have been too risky as Huddersfield was completely snowed under. That meant the Hare 'n Hounds Easter Show 2013 would be our first KC show! Funnily enough, I always thought that Delinquent Dogz would be my first show, and Hare n Hounds would be my first KC show. And it came true!

So on the 28 March 2013 Wispa and I set off for Hare 'n Hounds at Helmsley with Jo from MadSpaniels. Jo and Mark of MadSpaniels lent me a tent and I had an amazing weekend.

  • Day 1 - All three of our runs Eíd, but they were really good runs
  • Day 2 - A really good day! We got 4th Place in Graded 1-3 Agility, judged by Steph Wilson-Astbury! Our other two runs were E'd again
  • Day 3 - 3rd place in Graded 1-2 Agility
  • Day 4 - And then, the last day of Hare 'n Hounds, we got another 4th place, this time in Graded 1-3 Jumping, judged by Joanne Harker! (aka Mrs Huddersfield Nice Judge) as well as a clear in Redmills Combined G1-7 Jumping even though we had time faults

Our next show was Lincoln Agility Enthusiasts on 19Ė21 April 2013. I scrimed for the full day on Friday in Hannah Grantham's ring. Thanks for being really nice to me! No rosettes but overall had a really really good weekend.

Looking back
It has now been over a year since I began proper training/classes. When I started I wasn't very confident. I was a very nervous girl, afraid to talk to people so Agility was a really big challenge for me. Wispa was a very nervous girlie, too. We are slowly getting used to being faced with people. Iím still not 100% but Iím getting there and Wispa is also becoming more and more confident, too.

We have both been faced with obstacles and overcome them. At times we had no classes, nowhere to train. I nearly gave up, but I didnít. I always tried to find away around them. Now I am looking forward to the challenge of training my Mum's English Springer Spaniel puppy agility by myself, obviously when he is old enough.

So people, whatever you are faced with, do not give up. Keep going. You can do it. But most importantly, enjoy!

Thank you
I would just love to thank Brenda Tenten, Jan Dawson and Wendy Longbottom, the trainers at White Rose Agility and all the White Rose members, for just being fab, so helpful and so understanding! I have had an amazing time there.

I would also like to thank Jules for taking me to and from classes, lending me the sleeping bags and everything else. Also thanks to Vicky Reader to taking me to and from Delinquent Dogz and thank to Liz for letting me use her field and equipment, and also taking me to a NAWS show!

Thanks also Jo Wormald and Mark Evans from MadSpaniels for everything. They have both been completely amazing for me, helping me with absolutely anything and everything!! Also thank you for taking me to shows and letting me stay with you! You have both been absolutely amazing to me!

Finally, a big big big thank you to everybody who made this all happen!

To see Amy and Wispa in action to YouTube

About the author...
Amy Louise Joyce will be 16 this year. She has just finished school and hopefully will be going to Askham Bryan College September 2013 to do a Canine & Companion Care course.

She has a huge interest in photography and often takes photos of other people's dogs.

First published 3 July 2013


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