Billy Walsh was introduced the Akita as a breed about five years ago when he met another dog walker with a lovely Akita girl. When the bitch became too much for the owner to handle, she was rehomed to another family. Billy was devastated as he would have jumped at the chance to give her a home. A while later, he got his Akita puppy Otis and now they can be seen frequently around the agility rings in the North West. We asked his to write a short article about his experience with his running partner Otis (Musn't Grumble)
We enrolled in obedience classes, achieving Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. During this time Otis won 'Best Puppy' at Ripley Agricultural Show, 'Most Handsome Dog' fun competitions, together with 'Best in Show' at Wilmslow Dog Show, culminating in a treasured appearance in Cheshire Life.
It was whilst at the Anglesey Agricultural Show that we gained our first experience of agility in the form of a 'have a go' agility course. Otis seemed to really enjoy the run, sniffing the ground whilst hopping over the small sized jumps on his lead. He completed the A-frame and dog walk easily. You would have had to laugh at the sight of me entering the tunnel to persuade him to follow! I wasnít the first and no doubt it wonít be the last time I find myself in that position!
Having passed Gold Obedience, we moved on to a scent course which didnít seem to over-excite him. One day as I was stood at the window, Otis jumped onto the window sill from a standing position (cat like). This triggered memories of the fun agility run and I enquired about agility training.
Otis is very intelligent, and soon picked up commands and instruction. At 26 inches in height and 36kg in weight, speed was not his fortť. On several occasions, he has literally walked through the weaves. I began to wonder if this was the game for us? Agility is a fun thing to do but he's not a collie!
But persevere we did with the encouragement of the trainers at High Peak DTS, Chris Brelsford, Alison Brelsford-Browne, Hannah Roberts, Gillian Blanchard, Charlotte Edmondson and Irene Holbrook and various club members. A big thank you to you all.
Over a period of time, some speed had developed. To see how laid back he is on the Starting Line - and him not being toy motivated - you wouldn't think so!
After several months of further training with the fantastic High Peak DTS , we entered competitive shows in the second half of 2012 and were astonished at the reactions of competitors and judges alike to see an Akita doing agility. No one seems to have been worried about him being an Akita at shows or training.
After having mastered the seesaw, however, he then seemed to develop a dislike to it, we think due to the movement and his size, but he thrived on his jumping courses, picking up various placings and clear round rosettes. Many of you might have seen Otis at shows avoiding the seesaw but after much encouragement around us, we are now gaining clear rounds in Agility.
Without doubt, for me, his strength is in his jumping. He's only knocked a pole twice in competition - and one of those was my fault for knocking him into it whilst running. A simple pilot error!
During 2013, as the agility bug grew, we found ourselves entering more shows, some further afield. I still can't believe the number of rosettes and trophies we have won, including seven at Hare 'n Hounds Easter Show in Yorkshire, three 1st place Jumping wins at Wigan ATC Show to find ourselves winning out of Grade 1 and five at Lune Valley Show. The list seems endless.
We have since won out of Grade 2 and competed at Barnard Castle for the first time in Grade 3, gaining a 7th place in agility. We have also obtained our Agility Warrant Bronze and are on our way to the Silver!
When we are at shows we often receive positive comments from people who are amazed at how well he jumps, how laid back he is, how handsome and how elegant. They often comment at how unbelievable it to see an Akita even attempting agility and say he is a credit to the breed.
I've heard a couple of people who have tried agility with their Akitas. but we have never seen any others at show. I am hoping that having seen Otis, they may want to give it a go.
I could not imagine not having an Akita. He is my soul mate, trusted friend and companion and I feel truly blessed. Although we are hopeful of further progression, we do realise competition will become harder but will continue. After all it keeps him fit and focused and we are both enjoying the ride!
Watch Otis on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wnLkpbHjvw