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A New Agility Game for the Holidays: The Turkey Trot!

The BOTC Junior Handler Agility League has a new game for agility enthusiasts, young and old.


By Leona Hellesvig

The BOTC Junior Handler Agility League is back in session! Here is a game for your holiday enjoyment. The Turkey Trot takes you through the woods and over the river to Grandmother's house to get the turkey and bring it home for Thanksgiving. Our course maps are below:

If I had it to do over again, I would add another five seconds to the "gamble" time on this for the kids (though when I looked at the actual results, none of the kids would have earned the "gamble" on their first run, even if I had allowed an extra five seconds. All of the runs that were successful at performing the three jumps came in about seven to nine seconds after the second whistle, but had little struggles in the three-jump performance). On a second run (that didn't count for league points, but just for fun and training), the youngest boy (under 10 years old) in the room came in under time with a completed gamble, using the original 15 seconds. At the end of league judging, I ran my own dog on the course, and also came up with a completed gamble during the 15 seconds I had originally allowed. I came in about three seconds under the time, so completing the gamble in the 15 second time was possible. There is just no room for any struggling with those three jumps. 

Some entertaining moments occurred on the Turkey Trot course when a Golden Retriever retrieved the turkey, but still finished the course, carrying the turkey today. Our youngest league member just took over the training his older brother's Yorkshire Terrier (who had been previously been trained through Elementary level in 4-H), and was a little nervous, but he shined on his re-try Turkey Trot re-run (which we convinced him to do off-leash) and was the only one to complete the gamble under time. 

For those of you looking at this Turkey Trot course, and wondering where the See Saw and Dog Walk are, and why I allowed the handler or dog to do the weave poles:  The Beginner and Elementary levels of the USDAA (and Minnesota 4-H program) do not use those obstacles. Allowing the handler to do the weave poles serves an educational purpose for the younger handlers, because if they are required to do the poles, they become quite aware of what a correct entry looks like! If you were to do this course at a training club, you could certainly put the See Saw and Dog Walk on the course somewhere, or stipulate that only the dog (and not the human) could perform the weave poles. We had one of our Elementary level handlers (whose dog has not officially needed to learn the weave poles yet) have the dog do them. I call that a win-win!

So, how is the league going after day one?  We had three Junior handlers come today (two were Beginner on-leash level dogs, and one Elementary off-leash) and there should be four (perhaps five) more junior handlers for our next league play date. With the additional members, we will have members all the way from Beginner on-leash level through Advanced level. The junior handlers are all 4-H members, from four different county programs. There are an additional three to four juniors who are interested in joining our league (only one is not a 4-H member), but have not yet committed to doing so. We allow league members to join at any time during the league term, but to be eligible for "team" awards, they must have their registration form in by the first league match. Late-comers can still qualify for "individual" awards.

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