Are we mad or just addicted?
and Sheila Partridge took on a second-hand Papillion. He was - and still is - a super
little chap. The only thing which prevented him settling down into his new family was that he
had been trained in Agility and they had not! What we do to accommodate our dogs!
Bandit tried so hard to jump onto, over, under and
through things to please us, but was getting frustrated because we could not wave the right
arms and say the right words to encourage him. Partly through this and partly because I was
feeling a pressing need for exercise, my wife, Sheila, and I joined an agility club. I took
Bandit and Sheila took our tiny Yorkie Poppy, who has already plastered her paw prints over
these hallowed pages.
In our ignorance we imagined that we would toddle along
on a Wednesday evening, run around with the pooches, have a bit of exercise and socialising,
then quietly return home until next week. How can a person who is generally considered to be
fairly intelligent, be so wrong?
We started in late Summer. The year progressed to Autumn and then Winter came upon
us. We soon discovered that a barn with wet sand floors is cold - very cold - but we all kept
turning up. We were invited to a Sunday morning training session, outside in January. It
rained, and the only reaction of the trainees was to mutter such things as 'It always rains at
time like this, doesn't it' and turn up our collars, still grinning bravely. The seasons
turned - Spring became Summer, and the previously freezing barn became like a sauna, breathing
became difficult when sitting, impossible when chasing a dog. But we kept going, we kept
|As the winter progressed and the
season started and our fingers began to thaw we found that we were being 'encouraged' to
enter competitions (note, our encouragement came from 'DW' of Hailsham. If you identify
this person you will realise why I have used inverted commas!)
So, instead of having a pleasant lie in on a
Sunday, we found ourselves happily crawling out of bed before the cockerels were up and
hauling off across the country to run after our dogs in strange fields, usually with
spectacular lack of reward. Humiliating enough in front of strangers, excruciating in
front of people we know.
About this time we decided that one training night
a week was not enough, so we joined other clubs. We are now out three nights a week.
At this stage we had three dogs. The other one is
an elderly Pap which we inherited from Sheila's Mum when she was no longer able to keep
him. Although he has never done Agility, it was through him that we originally met
the aforementioned DW, so all of our problems can be placed firmly at his paws.
This picture was taken just before Christmas when
Bandit failed miserably at a show - his fault, of course - and was stuck into the oven.
If he wanted to act like a turkey, they threatened to cancel the order with the butcher.
Sheila voiced that, although she loved our dogs to bits,
she had a special soft spot for rescue mongrels. Enter Murphy, a ten week old collie X from
Ireland, immediately identified as the sole example of a pedigree Irish Twerphound (I: At a
companion dog show I entered him as this breed and that is exactly what was written on the
sheet!) Imagine if you will 20 or so 50' long bungee cords stretched to their limit and
you have some idea of the energy wrapped up in Murph.
At about six months old we introduced the pup to
agility. Now we have:-
- Bandit - a sound reliable competitor able to
interpret his handler's every command and would be very successful if the handler gave the
- Poppy - a bit of a circus act
- Murphy - a complete idiot, who is willing to
learn, but 'just a minute, this looks interesting.'
We are out three nights a week; we are out most weekends;
we get wet, we get cold. In order to accommodate all these hounds on the move, we now have to
change our nice comfortable car for a van!
BUT WE CALL IT FUN
Then I discovered Agilitynet*. In browsing the pages I
discovered that there are many others like us. Not only do they do the same things as we do in
the name of enjoyment, but they actually admit it!! I will confess that I was barmy
enough to send one note about a dog's first round written in the first person, but cannot take
responsibility for the other one. I read of embarrassments which have happened in the public
gaze at a local level being published to a much wider audience. I read of folks who have spent
a whole weekend of cold, rain, agony and failure, and then tell the world.
Now all of this must surely beg the question. When we go
to training or to a show and hear all that noise, is it the dogs that are barking, or is it
Editor's note: Richard was not paid to say this!
About the author...
Richard and Sheila Partridge joined Just Minis Agility Club when it first started around
18 months ago. They had Bandit, a second-hand ready trained Papillon and Poppy, the mini-mini
Yorkie who you have already met. Entirely unexpectedly they have become more involved
with Agility and competing, and are now busy training their new Collie X Murphy, who is now
just on a year old. Hopefully he will have his first competitive run at Stour Valley in late
summer. He is a completely fresh challenge because despite our orders to him he did not stop
growing at Midi stage, so they now have a Standard to cope with!