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2013-08-18 at 13:38

Agile pups

By Jeff Labine,
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Jazz, an 11-year-old shetland sheepdog, earned his piece of cake this weekend.

That’s because he and his owner, Michellle Schulzki, received their agility trial championship award called a NATCH at the Thunder Bay Agility Dog event held at Chippewa Park on Sunday. The prestigious award is given to a dog that accumulates enough points in their lifetime.

Schulzki, who had a cake ready if the occasion was to arise, said she wasn’t sure if they would be taking home the title.
“I was so excited today because my oldest boy got his NATCH,” she said. “I believe he is the first one in this area to receive that title ever. It was a goal I thought that was out of our reach. We only do a handful of trials a year.”

She said that Jazz will get a piece of vanilla cake while she enjoys her piece of chocolate.

Schulzki is part of the Thunder Bay Agility Dogs club and usually goes to trials once a year. In the dog’s early years, Schulzki explains that she trained more regularly but as the dog aged, she lightened the load a bit.

She said it’s possible to get a puppy ready for trials within two years.

“We usually train once or twice a week,” she said. “We’ll probably travel again in October. Our plan is to go to La Crosse, Wis. to an indoor facility with the family dog centre.”

Shirley Wallace, who lives near Duluth, Minn., came to the event with her two border collies. Wallace had to develop a slight variation on how to signal her dogs as she has only one arm.

She said it’s sometimes difficult to signal her dogs but she’s found ways to get around it.

“Sometimes I have to do some odd motions just to get them where I want them to be,” she said. “I try to do it like I should but they also follow your body motion like your hips and your feet. If you get your hips and your feet pointed in the right direction then your dog should go.”

Wallace decided to focus her training on agility instead of obedience since it appeared her dogs would be better suited for that. She said she soon became addicted to agility competitions.

Border collies are both fast and smart but Wallace said they also come with a risk.

“They need to be doing something,” she said. “They are real busy dogs. If you don’t have the patience or the understanding to deal with that part of the border collie then you’re going to have trouble.”


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