Posted Date: April 5, 2016
A profile of 2016 Team Member Kerry Smith and her dog Hype.
The World Agility Championship in The Netherlands is only a few weeks away! Meet Team Member Kerry Smith and her dog Hype.
Where do you live?
I live in Magnolia, Texas
which is outside the city of Houston.
How did you first
get involved with agility?
I had two Dachshunds, and
with my competitive personality I wanted to try performance events. One Dachshund competed in obedience and the other, Xena, I started in
agility. She was not easy to train and was a very frustrating dog for a few
years, but once we clicked she became my go-to dog. She is one of a
kind. I then decided I had international aspirations and I had always
loved Border Collies. I still remember in July of 2009 I had a dream that
I had a Border Collie named Hype. Four months later Hype fell into my
lap. We clicked from our first interaction.
What made you
decide to compete?
I have always been
competitive. I grew up riding horses; hunter/jumpers and eventing, as it
seems many agility people have a horse background. I always felt like
something was missing if I wasn't working towards some goal or
competition. Not that most people get a Dachshund and think agility
but she was actually pretty athletic and quick. Once I started there was no
Do you (or did you)
participate in any other dog sports or training with your dogs?
I have done competitive
obedience, some earthdog and dock diving, but agility has always been my main
focus. Hype has also been in several commercials. She loves the camera!
Tell us more about the dog you will be competing with as an IFCS
Hype is a big-hearted dog
in a small package. She is small but feisty and wants everyone to know
it. Hype is 110 percent all-in when she is in the ring but at home she is
the easiest dog to live with. She is very sweet and loving and quiet, with
a great off switch. To see her run you wouldn't know it. Even as a
puppy she was serious about work and would work till she dropped if I let
her. She has taken me on an incredible journey in such a short time.
Does your dog have
any quirks or unique habits that you would love to share?
Well anyone who
knows Hype knows that she is not a very quiet dog in the ring. At home
though she is usually sleeping and the quietest of all my dogs. One of
the funny things about her is if I cough she drops to the ground and hides and
is quiet. This worked great to teach her to be quiet outside the ring
waiting for our run. I think of it as my Hype kryptonite. :) She is
a very tough, pushy and confident dog so it is very bizarre to see something so
minor bother her so much. Not sure what caused it, but she doesn't do it
when other people cough and no other noises bother her. I can even tell
her I'm going to cough and she knows the word and calms down. At least it
spares everyone's ears around us when we are standing on the line.
Are there any
challenges you have faced with your dog that you'd be willing to share and how
you both overcame the challenge and achieved success?
Obviously coming from
running a Dachshund there were drastic differences. I trained Hype on my
own at home. I read a lot of books, watched videos
and tons of YouTube videos of handlers I admired and studying runs in slow motion over
and over. That alone was a huge challenge as it was basically trial and
error. I think a background in training horses and obedience really
helped. I also had only run AKC with my Dachshund so I really had
no knowledge or guidance as to what to train for international type
competitions. We started the more technical courses later, so not having
that foundation from the beginning has been a challenge. I have also
spent a lot of time traveling to work with top instructors from the U.S. and
Europe. Hype has shown its never too late to learn.
Do you have other dogs/pets aside from your IFCS dog? Tell us more
I have another young
Border Collie named Trick. I still have Xena, my Dachshund who is about 15-1/2
years old and I recently rescued a Cavalier King Charles, Ember. She is
Describe for us what you do in your other non-agility life/work
I work in sales for an IT
company. Before that I was a middle school and high school Science
teacher for 12 years.
How does it feel to
be on the IFCS Team this year?
I am very excited and it
is an honor to be part of this year's team. We have a great group of dogs
and handlers. It is also exciting that there are four others from Texas who
are on the team. One of them is Hype's full sister Bliz, run by Catherine
Laria. I'm very excited that the Whirlwind sisters both get to be a part
of the same team this year.
What are you
looking forward to the most at the World Agility Championship event in The
Netherlands this April?
I love to travel for
shows. It is so exciting to visit other countries, combine it with a dog
show and have Hype with me. This will be our second time to Europe. I am looking forward to the competition itself of course, site-seeing in The
Netherlands with my friends, and making new friends from other countries.
Do you do anything
special to prepare yourself for a big competition?
Both Hype and I have been
preparing with a specialized conditioning program. In addition to her
agility training, Hype is using a water treadmill once a week,
strength/stability exercises, and distance conditioning on a regular
treadmill. She also is seen periodically by her chiropractor Jackie Doval
and weekly by Ken Bain, our team's massage therapist. This way I can monitor
how she is doing and also prevent any issues. I also having been working
with mental management coach Heather Bassham.
People who enjoy
agility with their dogs are often intimidated by the idea of competition - what
advice would you give them to encourage them to take the plunge?
Ultimately it is a way to
enjoy time and bond with your dog. Not everyone has or needs to have the
same goals. My goal with my Dachshund was not to win nationals or make
world team. It was the journey and the bond we shared I will never
forget. We all had to start somewhere, fail and make fools of
ourselves. There are times I still do. No one is perfect. It has
only helped me grow as a handler and teammate to my dogs.
I encourage students to
go to shows. Get the feel of the environment and rules. Volunteer
to help. Anything to make the first time less stressful. The first
time is scary no matter what. If you have an idea what to expect though
it can take a lot of the pressure off so you can focus on your dog and your