Posted Date: October 31, 2016
A profile of Nita Diaz, one of our esteemed judges at Cynosport this year.
We're happy to have Nita Diaz as one of our judges at Cynosport in November. Learn more about her!
Where do you live?
How did you get involved in agility and how long have you been involved?
I started taking classes in 1991 100 miles away. I entered my first trial in 1994. I had been doing competitive obedience with my Siberian Huskies and a friend heard about the agility classes in Milwaukee, so we loaded up a van full of dogs once a week all summer. I was hooked and built my own set of equipment by the end of the summer. I started classes at a local dog club in 1992 and have been doing training classes and privates ever since. In the early years I hauled my equipment all over WI and Upper Michigan to get more clubs and people interested in the sport. Those were the days when everything was made of wood and super heavy - luckily I was much younger then!
Do you participate in any other dog sports or training with your dogs?
I've dabbled in quite a few dog sports, but agility has always been my main enjoyment. My dogs have earned titles in obedience, rally, nosework, herding, lure coursing and dock dogs.
What types of dogs do you have and what are their names, ages, and any titles?
My first two agility dogs were Sibes, Ice Blue and Kisha. They both earned a boatload of agility titles in multiple venues and both were able to compete until they were 13. They taught me patience, which has been invaluable in the sport of agility.
My next dog was Bob, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, he earned more titles than I can remember, and earned his way into the GP finals in Dallas, TX one year. Unfortunately that was when little dogs had to do the big Aframe. He blew out his shoulder at a trial and retired at the age of six.I ended up with a rescue Corgi named Peanut who many people remember. She was not a nice dog, had peculiar behaviors and hated dogs ... but she loved agility. She won a championship in NADAC, and won at Cynosport the last year they offered the Veterans GP. She also ran in the Steeplechase Finals that year, running clean and finishing seventh.
I then turned to the dark side, competing with Blade and EZ, Border Collies. Blade ran in a couple Cynosports, just missing GP finals one year.
I now have Peeka, a modified Rat Terrier. She had to retire early due to degenerative hip disease, but at the age of three made it into the GP and Steeplechase finals. She finished fourth in Steeple, which I was thrilled with since she is a 13" dog in the 16" class. She also finished second at the AKC Nationals in Reno the following year.
I stopped tracking titles many years ago, but all my dogs did very well and ended up with lots of letters in front of and behind their names.
What is something unique about your dogs you like to tell people?
Everyone thinks their dogs are the most unique and special, but that's what is so great about living with dogs. Each has their own distinct personality. All my dogs were special and unique. My current dog Peeka is probably the most intelligent dog I've ever lived with, right up there with the huskies. Being a terrier she's independent and feisty, but very bonded to me. She can be sweet and likes to give me hugs. When she was a pup she loved to fall asleep on my chest over my heart, and still likes to lay heart-to-heart with me.
What do you do in your "other" non-agility life?
I'm a retired Occupational Therapist. Now I'm an entrepreneur and work at Costco for health insurance. I've built and sold two dog businesses, first was a large dog daycare/boarding/training/grooming establishment, the second an indoor swim center for dogs.
When you are designing a course for Cynosport, do you have any goals and/or concerns?
I didn't approach my course design any different than a regular trial. I design mostly by gut instinct, with an overall goal of good flow and lots of fun. I'm a longtime student of Stuart Mah, which definitely influences my course design. I like to challenge handlers with transition points of extension/collection. Just because you have a super fast dog doesn't mean your going to win unless you can nail the turns :)
Have you judged at Cynosport in the past?
No, this is my first time and I'm very excited to see all the great dog/handler teams.
Do you have any tips or advice for Cynosport competitors?
Make yourself a schedule of your walk-times/run times and keep it with you at all times. It can be overwhelming if it-s your first time. Having your schedule memorized will definitely help.
Don't be nervous when you're in the ring. Chances are no one is watching. With everyone running different groups and different rings, don't be surprised when you're competing that your friends are busy in other rings.
Of course if you make it into the Finals, everyone will be watching you. Just remember that this is a weekend hobby that you do with your dog to HAVE FUN!!
What are you most looking forward about Cynosport this year?
Seeing my friends, seeing the best dogs in the world, and being back outside in Scottsdale!