Dogs, kids a good combo

Agility trials offer fun, exercise, educational opportunities

Posted: Monday, September 03, 2007

 

  Flirt, a long-haired miniature dachshund, tugs on her leash in the arms of her owner, Lindsey Pabst, after placing first at the Kenai Kennel Club's dog agility trial Sunday. At 13-years-old Lindsey was the youngest handler, running the agility course with the smallest dog at the trial. Photo by Jessica Cejnar

Flirt, a long-haired miniature dachshund, tugs on her leash in the arms of her owner, Lindsey Pabst, after placing first at the Kenai Kennel Club's dog agility trial Sunday. At 13-years-old Lindsey was the youngest handler, running the agility course with the smallest dog at the trial.

Photo by Jessica Cejnar

Lindsey Pabst is no stranger to the world of dog agility. After watching her mother train dogs ever since she could remember, it probably isn't surprising for those who know her to find 13-year-old Lindsey standing in line with Flirt, her 5-year-old long-haired miniature dachshund, at the Kenai Kennel Club agility trial Sunday awaiting her chance to take on the jumps and weaves.

"My goal is to run really fast to get her moving and keep her happy, excited and motivated," Lindsey said. "Sometimes she's off and doesn't want to do anything."

Lindsey was 8 when she met Flirt, and started training her when the dog was 6 months old. At her first trial, Lindsey's goal was to just have fun, but after approximately three years of trials, Lindsey hopes Flirt will get a title in the jumping course and the standard course which includes all the obstacles before the event is over.

"If you take first out of your height, you get points with the AKC (American Kennel Club) and can (use them to) apply for scholarships," said Lindsey's mother, Laura Pabst, adding that the points Lindsey earns when her dogs get a qualifying run can be applied to the amount of money AKC chooses to give her. "She had to work at it and do well."

One of Lindsey's first agility trials was with one of Pabst's dogs, a big rottweiler named Arson, who, Pabst said, must have weighed at least 30 pounds more than her daughter.

"She ran him once, and I never got to run him again," Pabst said laughing. "It was cute to watch them out there."

In addition to working with Flirt, Lindsey also is training a yellow Labrador retriever named Justin. At 6 months, Justin is not ready to compete in agility, Lindsey said, but he's taking obedience classes.

Anchorage resident Donna Chester is eager to see more kids participating in their local kennel clubs if only to keep them out of trouble. Chester's daughter, Krystin, a 17-year-old junior at South Anchorage High School, was the first teenager in Alaska to win the Masters Agility Championship (MACH) title, a status only three others in the state have attained.

"It's kind of fun knowing there's only four in the state," Chester said.

Krystin began running with Teller, an 11-year-old papillon, when she was 12, after watching her dad participate.

"I'd like to have fun, too, instead of sitting around and watching," Krystin said.

She found Teller when he was 3 after his previous owner returned him to his breeder. As a trainer, her strategy for excellence is to work with Teller as much as she can at home.

"As the first MACH junior handler in Alaska, I'd say I'd be in the top 20 possibly," Krystin said. "My goal is to eventually get on a world team. I'd like to do that before I'm 21."

One of the reasons Chester likes the idea of Krystin competing is she knows where Krystin is and that she's safe.

"If kids are kept busy, they stay out of trouble," she said. "I don't have to worry about it."

According to the AKC's Web site, kids ages 9 through 18 can participate in junior showmanship classes that teach them the ins and outs of dog shows, good sportsmanship and how to develop their handling skills.

Lindsey said she can definitely see herself competing in agility trials when she's older. Krystin said she hopes to go to Washington State University to be a veterinarian who emphasizes in alternative medicine. This experience has been good for them, but perhaps just as important it's good for their dogs, as well.

"If people like their dogs, it's something fun to do instead of having a homebody dog," Chester said. "It gives them a job and that makes dogs happier."

The kennel club agility trial will continue today at the Kenai Little League Ball Fields on Spruce Street in Kenai. The trial starts at 8:30 a.m. and continues until mid afternoon.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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