Posted Date: July 29, 2013
Sandy Cody shares the New England Agility Team's beginnings on their 25th anniversary.
Many years ago, Jean MacKenzie in Rhode Island and Julie Daniels in New Hampshire were able to "see the future" and formed an agility club. In 1988, they registered their group with USDAA as the New England Agility Team (NEAT).
NEAT was started with a particular plan in mind. Daniels says, "When we drew up our charter, it was unanimous that NEAT would welcome all dogs, no pedigree required, and we would not ever support an organization that would not accept all dogs."
Ronnie and Cheryl Pitkin and Brenda Buja, friends of Daniels, joined the group later. Daniels had been teaching classes at a school gymnasium in Newton, New Hampshire, and met Monica Percival (editor of agility magazine Clean Run), who also joined the group.
MacKenzie was teaching at Mt. Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, where NEAT held a "show 'n go." Daniels tells the story: "It was very cold, and snowy, and windy. Hazel and JC Thompson [who were innovators in early agility events] had driven all the way up from North Carolina. Hazel said to me 'I am wearing everything I own!' Jean and I were the judges. Tom Thompson from Connecticut was also there, as was Judy Davis. But that was in 1989, before there were recognized trials."
Daniels made the drive to Keene, New Hampshire, to give a presentation and demo to Judy Davis and her friends. They later became the Canine Agility Training Society (CATS). They were very impressed with Jessy, Daniel's Rottweiler, doing the weave poles.
Julie Daniels and her Springer Spaniel, Arrow, demonstrate the weaves. Look at those weave poles!
At early teeter performance by Jean Mackenzie and Brownie.
NEAT's first events were exciting experiences. Percival remembers, "I believe the first trial was at the [University of New Hampshire] arena.... Then our next trial was in a hotel parking lot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We had to move the trial off the grass and onto the pavement because the grass was so muddy."
Winners at an early NEAT trial.
According to USDAA records, NEAT has held 26 sanctioned trials over the years. On May 18-19 in Greenland, New Hampshire, we held our 26th USDAA trial. It was great fun to have founding member Jean MacKenzie judging in one ring, past president Maureen Sullivan judging in the other, and our other founder, Julie Daniels, turning in stellar runs. Then, adding to the history book, NEAT became the site for the presentation of the "Spirit of Agility Award" given to Rich Dennison.
Thanks to all the competitors that have supported NEAT through the years, and thanks to Jean and Julie for having the foresight and dedication to this great sport that we share with our dogs.
Julie Daniels and Arrow. All photos courtesy of Julie Daniels.
Has your club celebrated a milestone anniversary recently? Or are you involved in one of the clubs that started with USDAA agility in the late 80s and early 90s? If so, send us a note about it at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we'll feature your club here on USDAA.com!
Sandy Cody started doing agility 20 years ago with the ARFF Agility Club in Massachusetts when they first started. She now lives in New Hampshire with her "very supportive husband, Jimmy," and her three Border Collies, Creekside Doc, Island Jed, and rescue Gidget. Jimmy and Doc are close earning their ADCH titles. Jed and Sandy need a few more legs for their AAD and Gidget continues working on her social skills. Sandy is now a member of NEAT, located in the beautiful seacoast area of New Hampshire, and attends most of the USDAA agility trials in the New England area. For more info about NEAT, check out their website neatclub.com or like them on Facebook.