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Run, Newfie, Run! 

By George Brown 

Feature Articles

First Newfoundland Earns Agility Title

First Newf Earns AX, AXJ Titles

Run, Newfie, Run

The first ever Newfoundland-only agility trial, held on March 25, 1999, at the NCA National in Solomons, Maryland, was a rousing success. Early that Thursday morning, people started drifting toward the agility ring, wondering what all the colorful equipment was about and watching the course for the first run being set up. But excitement was in the air and it was contagious! More and more folks wandered over to the ring as start time approached, coming from all over the show grounds and the town of Solomons. Some came because they knew agility was fun. Some came to bring their kids. Some came to cheer a friend. And some came to watch because they wanted to learn more about the sport. It was breathtaking to watch this set of canine athletes run, hurdle, tunnel, and climb with their faithful handlers working furiously by their sides. 
Newfoundland Dog Agility

Newfoundland DOg AgilityRoger Greenwald & Daisy show their skill in the Novice B Standard Class.

There were Newfoundlands entered in each of the six classes, Excellent, Open, and Novice Standard; and Excellent, Open, and Novice Jumpers with Weaves, for a total of 30 runs. It was obvious that each of the dogs had trained hard, was in tiptop condition, and loved to work. We had one qualifier, Jenny Liedkie, and her Landseer, Dorian's G'Day Sunshine, CD, NA, NAJ, WRD, Can. WRDX, in the Novice Jumpers class, and also earning a Novice Jumpers title. However, as far as the spectators were concerned, every dog and handler was a winner. Everyone wanted to see Newfies successfully maneuvering see-saws and climbing A-frames and racing through tunnels. Even the nationally renowned AKC judge, Ms. Janet Gauntt, commented on the caliber and capabilities of this particular set of dogs.
A well-run agility trial is a pleasure to attend. A big 'thanks' to our stewards and ring crew, for they willingly and quickly learned to ensure that jumps remained standing and set at pre-measured heights, lugged around heavy equipment according to the judge's specifications, and lined up handlers in catalog order or to find leashes flung wildly away at the start of each run. 

A well-run agility trial is a pleasure to watch. The judge is responsible for designing the courses, which may have

Newfoundland Dog AgilityJenny Liedkie directs Dory over a jump during their Novice B Standard run.

from 14 to 20 obstacles, consisting of tunnels, closed chutes, jumps (broad, spread, tire, single, double, etc.), and contact equipment (see-saw, A-frame, dog walk) in varying configurations. Each competitor gets a course map as he or she checks in at the trial and must memorize the course. Each competitor has an opportunity to "walk the course" without a dog, to memorize the series of obstacles in the same sequence that the judge indicated on the course map. That jump that sits directly in front of the tunnel exit, for example, may not be the next obstacle to take after the tunnel according to the course map. The dog may have to make a U-turn to a different obstacle. The handler must know absolutely how to handle his or her dog in order to be able to execute such a turn successfully. Which side of the tunnel exit should the handler be on? Should the handler give a verbal command or clap to get the dog's attention! Which way is the handler facing and how are the handler's shoulders/head/body turned? These all impact which way the dog goes and whether the course is navigated successfully. The more advanced the class, the harder the sequences. And the judge provides a time limit based on the length of the course. 

Newfoundland Dog AgilityAKC Agility Judge Janet Gauntt keeps a close eye on Buckley as he does the dog walk.

Agility is truly a team sport that builds confidence as well as athletic prowess. Training for the sport requires positive methods and praise-there is no room here for harshness or bad attitudes. Negativity uses up energy that is needed for the course and contributes to tentativeness and hesitancy-two qualities not needed on an agility run. Training requires conditioning and a closeness between handler and dog that is clearly exhibited in the ring. That's what we saw at Solomons. We just couldn't miss the excitement and anticipation on each dog's face, and the close-knit bond between each dog and handler. That's what the crowd at Solomons saw.


Run, Newfie, run! Yes, you can do it! Run like the wind! 


Reprinted from NewfTide 1999



Agility Resources



AKC - Agility




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