Posted Date: June 8, 2016
Jack West and his dog Annie have been involved in agility since 2003!
Jack West and his dog Annie have been involved in agility since 2003. Jack remembers, "It was great fun but also very sobering when I saw how much we needed to learn. Annie had never been at trials and the sheer amount of people and dogs really had Annie and I wondering what was going on. Annie is always looking out for people she knows and when Annie came around a corner and saw [my wife's niece] Jessi, she just kept going; right over the fence and into a startled 10-year-old's lap. I can't remember any other time that Annie left the ring during a run."
Jack and Annie knew nothing about agility when they first started and were looking for a positive outlet for her energy. Annie was a dog they had brought home from a litter at a friend's horse ranch in Pecos, TX. They took classes together that ran about 45 minutes, once a week, and Jack said he quickly realized that it would take years before they got to a more advanced level at that rate. So they found Travis Agility Group (TAG) and received better instruction. The more they worked on agility, the more they enjoyed it and, "Annie had a great time and was very good at it and loves it." He jokes, "Her whole life now she has had only two problems with agility - her handler and her trainer - me."
Together they have traveled to trials in Jack's RV. In 2007, they drove over the course of the summer to trials in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, and Missouri. "It was a lot of agility but we had a good time," Jack remembers.
Annie's favorite obstacles are the dogwalk and a-frame. He says she likes the dogwalk because, "She can really let it out on the up ramp, across the top and down ramp whereas with the a-frame, her forward speed slows down going up and down. She was better at the a-frame earlier because her stride just fit the obstacle perfectly. We worked a lot to get her to have consistent contacts at her warp speed and then adding turns to the exit to keep the speed. I was always in awe of her no-fear attitude as she literally flew across those 36 feet." And the class she enjoys the most: "Steeplechase!!! It's what she likes - speed."
Their biggest challenge was being new to agility and Jack felt most of the time, "I didn't know what to teach Annie as well as how to teach her. She improved when I learned what I needed to do, so she could do what I wanted her to."
Jack and his wife Leta are known for volunteering at trials. He says they do so for many reasons. "More workers equals less time equals more fun." He really loves course building: "I enjoy watching the course grow from the map and then see how it is changed by the chief course builder, then the judge to fit the requirements, safety issues and the ring size. It gives me a good perspective on how we might run a course going into the walk through." He says he also loves leash running: "You're right there with all those hyper dogs as they come in from their run. You get to watch and keep moving." Meanwhile, his wife Leta enjoys scribing and working as the gate steward.
Now that Annie "is reaching her golden years," Jack remembers fondly how "every morning we would get ready to do our walk and I would (and still do) sit down on the living room floor to put my shoes on. She would bring me a stuffed dog and shove it onto my foot where I was trying to put on a sock or shoe and I couldn't see what I was doing. I would wrestle it away from her and she would, of course, try to get it back. So I would come to the part of the game where I would put the toy behind my back and she would run to get it, jumping over my legs, and I would bring it back around front and she would chase. Then I would get her in front and the toy behind me and I'd bring it from one side and bop her with it or fake like I was going to. She would chase it from side to side. Then I would do the old "nothing in the hand" trick that came around front, while shoving the dog toy up the back of my shirt. I'd ask her where did it go and she would fly around back and rip it out of my shirt! Sooner or later, I would get the shoes on and we were ready to go for a walk. She did this for years and we both had a wonderful time. Nowadays she comes into the living room and sits or lays down, waiting for me to finish with my shoes, but sometimes she will pick up the stuffed dog or cat that still lives in front of the coffee table and starts the old routine, though not quite with the same vigor as in the old days. But it makes me remember and I love it. Hugem while you gotem!"