By Mark Laker
The warm weather from July continued into August and as I write this evening the news is that this has been the warmest UK summer on record and we’re likely to get more in the future. That’s good news for most of us who enjoy being outside, maybe not so good for dogs and people who struggle with the heat. I notice most agility dogs are quite sensible about the heat. They go out, do their thing and get back into the shade; although we have a couple of dogs at home who love the summer and have taken every opportunity to lay out in the full heat.
One of the biggest competitions we attend during the year is the Kennel Club International Agility Festival (KCIAF) held at Rockingham Castle in August. Apparently its the biggest dog agility show in the world and certainly attracts hundreds if not thousands of visitors, agility handlers and their dogs. It’s also special because it’s sponsored by CSJ who have a big presence over the four days with a trade stand, goodies, and friendly, helpful CSJ people on hand.
Agility Team GB also had a stand there…well it was an interestingly shaped gazebo placed in a prominent and convenient position near the main arena, so we had good ‘footfall’ too. I took the opportunity to talk to people about the team, how they can get involved, what international championships we attend etc. I also held a number of feedback sessions with the handlers who competed at the European competitions we attended in July. This is a good opportunity to talk about performance, what went well and thoughts for the future. One thing I’ve learn’t about this role is there are always opportunities to improve…I guess that’s true for most things in life.
I even managed to run my youngster Moog this year. He is very enthusiastic and struggles with the excitement of a big show like the KCIAF with 17 rings and lots of agility dogs competing at once. However the ‘boy did good’, we worked well together and I felt that our partnership is beginning to come together. We are planning to attend a few competitions over the autumn and winter to continue giving him ring experience which I think he needs most of now.
I’m now focusing on preparations for the Agility World Championships in Sweden next month. The team have organised extra training over the summer, the dogs are looking fit and their performance leading up to the championships is impressive. The World Championships are one of the highlights of the year and I must say I’m really looking forward to going to Sweden. They’re are one of the most exciting teams to watch and I’m sure they’ll put on an amazing event. More about this next month.