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From the Welsh Hills to Novice Agility Dog

Junior handler Gina Graham got her 'little freak' as company for her crossbreed Dizzy who had been in training for about five months. Dizzy had already been to her first agility show, got clear rounds in all classes, had some placings in Obedience and Heelwork to Music competitions. Gina realised, however, that Dizzy was too slow to do well in Agility so she decided she wanted a Border Collie. And what a dog she got! This is Cassie's story - a fruit 'n nut case makes good!

I desperately wanted a blue merle, but to be honest would have had anything. When we heard The Border Collie Trust had a four month old blue merle in, I was ecstatic and didn't sleep that night. My mum said she didn't think we should go and see her, because she was too young - we were aiming for six months up- but when we got there, we realised she was really about six months. So we took her home. She weighed about a 1/3 of what she should have done and she had kennel cough and diarrhea. And then we found out she hated everyone... except us.

She had been roaming the Welsh hills for all of her life and was definitely not house-trained. It took about six months to get her health sorted, and we are still working on the people problem. Although now she is fine with 'doggie people,' but hates anyone who doesn't smell of dogs. She still chases cars as well.

How we got there
Cas (Flibebrty Gibbet) started agility in March 2001, and we decided to join a club. Agility really brought her out of herself - another case of agility and the shy dog, I think. We soon discovered she had speed -more, at least, than Dizzy anyway.

In fact, as she was so nutty I thought that I would never have control over her, but because she is a one person dog, she stuck with me and did as she was told,. She has never been a problem control-wise even though she speeds round like a maniac.

I made sure right from the beginning she knew her lefts from her rights, and we did a lot of work on that. We didn't have any problems, apart from the fact she was too scared to go into the tunnel. In the end we put little bits of treat all the way along the inside and left her outside with it and watched. After running round it for about ten minutes trying to figure out how to get to them without going inside, she finally stepped foot inside the tunnel.

It took a while to get her to weave. At first I tried the channel weaves method, but it didn't work for us, so I just lured her through with a treat, and she picked that up in no time. Now she has solid weaves and picks up entries very well even at funny angles. She is so good I even entered in the 60-pole weave challenger at Easter Egg'stravaganza.

I quickly learned that where I could run Dizzy any way I like and she'll still do everything, with Cas I have to have my body position exactly right. A turn of my body even the slightest movement will send her flying off in that direction.

We were ready for out first competition at 18 months. I broke her in gently entering one class - The Agility Club Starters Agility Challenge Heat for 2002. She came eighth. I was very pleased. Then we won KCJO Biathlon qualifier and came second in the flyball qualifier for Crufts. She went to a couple more shows picking up a second in Elementary Jumping at Tuffley Limit. At Crufts she enjoyed her agility and Flyball, but was very nervous in the Obedience. Then it was Easter Egg'stravaganza where she won a Junior Agility. At Dordale she won out of Elementary - a third in Starters Jumping. The next week at Beacon she came second in Junior Agility.

Then came Worcester. It was lovely weather for dogs, cloudy but warm enough for us to sit out in. The Agility Club Starters Challenge Heat was our first class. Oh no, there were nine weaves! It was just as well we had been practising nine at home that week. She went clear in a time of 21.49 seconds. She definitely wasn't as fast as she usually is so I never thought we'd win by three seconds! It was our first ever class we entered a few months before and the one we won out of!

The next day was Wilmslow and a lovely Elementary Jumping course I just blasted her round and she won by two seconds clear!

Out of nine shows that we have been to so far this year, she's had:-

  • 11 trophies
  • 6 x first placings
  • 4 x second pacings
  • 2 x third placings

A total and utter nutter
No doubt you'll see her bouncing and yapping in Novice and Intermediate queues. She doesn’t need training for
Novice/Intermediate courses, I do! She maybe a little bit of a freak, but she's my little freak and I love her for it.

About the author...
Gina Graham
got her dog Dizzy as a rescue at the end of 1999 and Cas in mid-2000. She discovered agility when she found Agilitynet in 2001.

She goes to most shows in the Midlands and will most probably be found camping in her tent with her friend Rachel and their three dogs, soon to be 4!

Gina is a member of the YKC and attended KCJO camp in 2001. She would love to set up an agility training club when she is older as there aren't any competitive clubs closer than 30 minutes away. She rents a field so she can go and train there anytime. She has designed and built some of her own equipment. Rachel comes along sometimes to train and they help each other which is nice.

Her aim in agility is to have an agility champion at some point in her lifetime. She would love to make it to Olympia with Cas at some point in her agility career.

Gina also does Obedience, Flyball and Heelwork to Music. Her other interests include horse riding, swimming and going out with her friends as well as working on her websites and


From Catherine Cronin
I like this account as it shows not just a keen interest and achievement in trials but a lot of love for the dogs as well. (252/06/02)

From Sally Myndock...
I am new to the agility world and have just recently found your website, I too have a rescue dog like the one in the story 'From the Welsh Hills to Novice Agility Dog'. It has really inspired me, I think it is a brilliant article. It shows that you can do anything if you really want to and Gina is obviously very committed and to have achieved so much in such a short time! (12/06/02)


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