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A Profile of Judge Jelinda Pepper

We're excited to have Jelinda Pepper as a judge at Cynosport this year!


Where do you live?

I live in College Station, Texas.It's a small town, home to Texas A&M University.

How did you get involved in agility and how long have you been involved?

I started agility in 1992 when an agility handler named Stuart Mah came to give an agility seminar at our obedience club in San Diego. My shy mixed breed, Jasmine, needed some confidence boosting and agility was just the thing for her. I never planned to compete with her, we just did agility for fun. Eventually we entered the ring, but it has always been fun, should be fun, and I've been having fun in agility ever since. I became a judge in 1998, and judging became another way to have fun with others through agility.

Do you participate in any other dog sports or training with your dogs?

I dabble in several things with my dogs, but only compete in agility at the moment. There are so many new sports in the dog world that I could see eventually ending up competing in some as time goes on.

What types of dogs do you have and what are their names, ages, and any titles?

I am lucky enough to share my life currently with six dogs, five Border Collies and a Border Collie/Aussie mix. We have three older girls: Rosie, 14; Polly, 14; and Megan (our BC/Aussie) 13. Then we have the three younger boys: Cayden, 8; Chip, 7; and Riley, 2.

The girls have not done agility. All are rescues with different stories and different abilities that just don't include agility. Cayden plays in agility but does not compete. Chip has been my main agility partner these past few years, but since he does not travel well, we only trial locally. Riley is in training and will be showing soon enough. I am enjoying training a new partner again!

What is something unique about your dog (or dogs) you like to tell people?

All of my dogs except two have been rescues. My first agility dog, Jasmine, was a little mixed breed who entered agility to gain confidence. She went on to earn her ADCH and ran with me until the age of 13-1/2. I have shared my life with 12 dogs over the years and each has taught me something special and different.

What do you do in your other non-agility life?

When I lived in California, I trained service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence. When we relocated to Texas, I went back to school earning my masters, worked as a research assistant for Texas A&M, and now I am at home. We have two boys, so along with the six dogs I am kept very busy!

When you are designing a course for Cynosport, do you have any goals and/or concerns?

I would say that my goals/concerns were the same as for any course -- aiming for a challenging, yet fun course with flow, safety and choices for handling options. I enjoy a course where folks enjoy their run and the challenges it presented the team, regardless of how they did on the course. The best thing to hear from a non-qualifying run is, "Wow, that was fun!"

From a judging perspective, I did pay attention a bit more than usual to the judging paths, so that whoever judges the course can be where they need to be to judge each run fairly and consistently. I have heard that the days can be long, and my pedometer will have enough steps on it without me purposely adding them onto the judging path!

Have you competed at Cynosport in the past?

I have been fortunate enough to compete at Cynosport three times, once making the finals in Veterans with my agility partner, Jasmine.

Have you judged at Cynosport in the past?

I was on the schedule for last year but unfortunately an agility-related accident shortly before the event ended that opportunity. Behaving myself during five months of physical therapy got me back into the ring, and I am avoiding falling as much as possible at this time. I'm glad to have this second chance to judge at Cynosport.

Do you have any tips or advice for Cynosport competitors?

The energy at a large event can be electrifying. Let it lead you towards the positive, energizing your runs and focusing your thoughts. This is agility, engage it with the fiery passion you would as with any class, you and you dog. It's the same equipment, the same rules, so step to the line and tackle each course with confidence.

What are you most looking forward about Cynosport this year?

I am looking forward to taking it all in from a different perspective than as a competitor. It will be strange to be there without my dogs!

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