Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LCDA's History Part 2

When Bob and Mickey Lanier joined the club, they did not even own a dog.  Mickey had met some of our members at a community event at Citadel Mall and she knew that she would soon be getting a puppy. Well, Mickey trained Miss Dixie and started to go out of town to trials. Bob was along for the ride.  He started to observe other people’s organization of their equipment.

Our club had already purchased the small trailer that we still own. However, it would not hold a dog walk or an A Frame. Bob started to look for a deal on a trailer for the club. Bob found our big trailer and bought it with his own money. He had to wait for the club to vote to buy it and to get reimbursed. It was a lot of money to our club, but Bob convinced us that if we wanted to get serious about these agility trials that we needed to get serious about equipment. He outfitted it with all of the shelving and we now looked like an agility club.

Dick and Judy Brock also joined our club during this time. The two couples became great friends and Bob and Dick began to make equipment. They made two rings of competition jumps that our club used until we moved to our training field. Then, they decided that we needed jumps that would hold up in the weather, so we switched to all PVC. These nice jumps stayed on our equipment trailer just in case we ever went back to the park for trials. The attached photo is of Miss Dixie playing on one of her Daddy’s jumps.

We are still on our journey through our early equipment years. One of the biggest changes for our club happened when Mike Adams got involved with the equipment. Since he ran a machine shop, he had the perfect resume to build equipment and he knew how to build things to precise specifications. Mike can build anything, so we nearly worked him to death. He made dog walks, A Frames, teeters, tables, and jumps. He made at least two of everything. We packed our equipment trailer full.

The only problem was, the equipment went together like a jigsaw puzzle and it all had to be completely broken down to store on the trailer. So, every time we used it, the trailer had to be unloaded, the equipment assembled, and then we had to break it back down to store it on the trailer. We used to have more fights over people showing up late or leaving early to get out of loading and unloading the trailer. The trailer was stored at Palmetto Island County Park in an overflow parking area. If you were to ask any "older" club member what their most vivid memory is, without a doubt, it would be the loading and unloading of the trailer. The attached photos show Mike Adams with Sporty and also, some of our old equipment that was very state of the art at that time.

Agility Through The Years by Lori Duncan
The sport of dog agility began in Britain in 1978 at the Crufts Dog Show. Dog agility was first introduced in the U.S. in 1986 by the U.S. Dog Agility Association (USDAA) and continues to be one of the fastest growing dog sports in the country. There are several national organizations that hold agility competitions. The two main organizations are: the USDAA and the American Kennel Club (AKC) which began holding competitions in 1994. Other organizations include CPE (Canine Performance Events), UKC (United Kennel Club), NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council), and ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America). Competitions in these organizations are open to all dogs, purebred or all-American. There are several types of courses (Standard, Jumpers, Pairs, Snooker, Gamblers, etc.) in a competition to test different skills and versatility for the dog/handler team.

I’m going to focus on USDAA agility since that is the organization that our club is affiliated with. I began agility in 1993 as a member of our club. We had home-made equipment that we stored on a trailer and hauled out to Palmetto Islands County Park (PICP) to practice. It was quite an event to actually be able to practice because of the time commitment involved with hauling the trailer, setting up, practicing, tearing down and loading the equipment, and hauling it away again. And, yes, the equipment was very HEAVY!!!! We truly have it nice at the training field in West Ashley with all the new equipment!!!

My first agility dog was an Australian Shepherd named Kiwi. She stood 17 inches at the withers and had a stocky build. The original jump heights for USDAA were 30, 24, 18, 12 inches. She had to jump 24 inches – that’s seven inches above her shoulders!!! Needless to say we had problems with knocked bars. By the end of her career, USDAA had re-evaluated the jump heights and modified them to what they are today (Kiwi jumped 22 inches). In addition, the A-frame used to be six feet, three inches high but was adapted to a range of five feet, nine inches to five feet, eleven inches and five feet, five inches to five feet, seven inches. Soon after, the USDAA began a Veterans Program which later became the Performance Program allowing dogs seven years and older to jump one jump-height lower. And now, they have added a new Veterans program that allows dogs eight years and older to jump two jump heights lower to help lengthen the careers of our great companions.

Agility Through The Years by Lori Duncan Cont.
Our training methods have drastically changed. I remember having both Kiwi and Cutter (my Boykin Spaniel) on lead and luring them over a full-height A-frame, dog-walk, and teeter. My first jumps were brooms laid across chairs in my backyard. I had an old tire swing that I had my dogs jump through. There was no foundation at all.

The difficulty of the courses has also changed over time. Kiwi was only able to weave in “heel” position. I was able to get to the Masters level, but I’m not sure I could do that today. In Starters there were rarely any crosses necessary to complete the course. My, how the times have changed!

When LCDA first held trials at PICP, we offered three runs per day (standard and two games). We later began to offer tournament events (Grand Prix, Steeplechase and DAM team). Many club members traveled together throughout the Southeast to attend agility trials and built lasting friendships along the way. I encourage you to travel to some “away” trials to feel the camaraderie within the agility community.

My first trial was an “away” trial because LCDA wasn’t holding trials yet. Kathy Cole, LCDA founding member, drove with me to Florida in 1994. We were surprised and thrilled when we both qualified in our first runs! It was crazy though, because we drove all the way to Florida for a two-day AKC trial and only got one run per day. In the early days of AKC, they only offered standard courses. The next AKC trial I attended we also qualified and Kiwi and I became the first dog/handler team to earn an agility title in the Charleston area.

It’s now common-place to have at least five runs per day in USDAA and two to four runs per day in AKC. More runs equals more fun!!!

“The real joy is in the privilege and ability to step to the start line with your dog by your side, not in crossing the finish line victorious over others.” ~ Gail Storm

To be continued...

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