Event Calendar
Title Mania®
Cynosport® World Games
Team USA
Rescue Dog Profile: Laura Novick and her Rescued Dogs May-tal and Yossa

The story of two rescued dogs and their owner, Laura Novick.


May-tal is a female border collie who will turn three on October 19 (more or less). I adopted her as a roughly five-month-old puppy from West Tennessee Border Collie Rescue. They rescued her from a high-kill shelter in middle Tennessee. She was listed as a stray but I suspect she was really an owner surrender because she had been well fed, was well socialized with people (she loves children!), and had no bad habits. She was just a normal (untrained) border collie puppy, which probably explains everything.

I got addicted to agility with my then 3.5-year-old shelter dog, Yossa, and was looking for a second competition partner. I specifically wanted a dog with more speed and drive than Yossa has, so I went looking for a border collie. I told West Tennessee BC Rescue what I was looking for in a puppy before they had an appropriate dog available. They contacted me when "Brandy" entered their rescue to ask whether I would like to meet her. She had a bright, alert face and adorable spots on her face and legs, so I said yes. (I am partial to spots because Yossa is spotted all over.) I brought my clicker and treats and very quickly taught her to climb into a plastic box she had never seen before. I took her home with me right then and named her May-tal, which is a very pretty Israeli name that means drops of dew. I thought it was appropriate because of all her spots.

May-tal is exactly what I was looking for in my next agility partner. I am learning a lot as an agility handler from training her because she is different from Yossa on practically every dimension. She has speed and drive and is also handler-focused rather than obstacle-focused. She is competing at the masters level in the 22" height class. We won't make it to Cynosports 2016 because it's too far away given my job, but if all goes well we plan to compete at Cynosports 2017, which will be held practically in my back yard. As of October 1 we have one Q each in Grand Prix, Steeplechase, and Biathlon. We're also making good progress toward earning the ADCH. My MAD dog is just 11 Qs shy of her championship. She has all her standard Qs, all her tournament Qs, and 2-3 Qs in each of the other titling classes.

May-tal makes everyone laugh. She sounds completely ferocious when we're tugging, and then when I drop the tug/disc she shakes it madly from side to side while continuing to growl. But it's all show. She's totally sweet with people. She can be a bitch around other female dogs, though. Fortunately, she and Yossa are best buddies even though they're both girls. Otherwise, her best canine friends are all male (and all larger than she is). May-tal lives to run and jump. Often when she's running through the back yard she'll pounce like a cat mid run, just for the sheer joy of it. I've also seen her do that a couple times on the top plank of the dogwalk, which I'm not quite so thrilled about. During agility class, I make her "park it" in a chair while the other dogs take their turns. Usually she rests with her back legs tucked under her in the chair and her front legs on the ground in front of the chair. This stance makes it look like she has no back legs!

Doing agility is a huge amount of fun, and it builds a really strong bond with your dog. I highly recommend the sport! Any breed (or mix) of dog can do agility, but it will probably be easier to train one who likes to play with you.


Yossa (pronounced Yoe-suh) is a 5-year-old female Sri Lankan leopard dog. Just look at her pictures and her breed will be obvious! More seriously, her mother looked like a German shepherd mix, probably with some husky in her. Her father is a mystery. Yossa plays herd-the-basketball like a border collie. She has some hypervigilant tendencies like a German shepherd. Her self-appointed job is to be my guardian; she follows me all over the house to make sure I'm okay (because you never know who might be lurking in the bathroom).

I got her as an eight-week-old puppy from Metro Animal Care and Control in Nashville, TN. Someone had dropped her about-ready-to-deliver mother off there two months earlier. The puppies were raised in the shelter, where they had ample food, a warm and dry place to live, and lots of human attention.

I went looking for a puppy because my old dog had just died and I needed a companion. I saw her brother online and went to meet him, but I didn't like his personality. The shelter staff then showed me his sister, and she was perfect! She had the most adorable face and sweet disposition, and I fell in love with her. I named her Yossa (Josie in Hebrew).

I originally got her as a pet. After I had had her for a month or two, I decided it might be fun for us to try agility. I had taken a beginning agility class with my previous dog, 8-10 years earlier. It hadn't worked out to continue doing agility with her, but I remembered the sport and thought it might be fun to try again. The only really concrete thing I remembered from that class was that agility dogs need to know "left" and "right" (which isn't actually true, although it helps). So I proceeded to take obedience classes with the goal of passing the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Test and taught Yossa to turn "left" and "right" on verbal command.

When Yossa was 10 months old we started our first agility class. Yossa took to agility like a fish to water, and I became an agility addict. The first couple years we competed in agility there weren't a lot of USDAA trials in our area. I entered all the nearby USDAA trials because I liked the challenging courses, and I loved the games classes. Yossa jumps 20" in the performance program. She measures into the 26" jump height but can't jump that high. She is competing in PIII and is two-thirds of the way toward earning her PDCH. She has all her snooker Qs and all her tournament Qs. She just needs 10 assorted titling Qs. I was hoping we would get the PDCH in 2016 because there have been an unusually large number of local USDAA trials this year. Unfortunately, Yossa tore her ACL and had surgery, and then tore her other ACL and had surgery again, so she has spent most of the past year in rehab. I now hope we'll earn her USDAA championship in 2017. Ten Qs is not a lot for a dog who is not particularly fast but is incredibly accurate.

Yossa has two endearing traits, both of which showed up when she was quite young. Pretty much since I brought her home she's been crossing her paws when she lies down. It's very cute. So I taught her to cross her paws on command, which is a great trick for showing off because nobody else's dog does that. Her second endearing trait is also something she taught herself. By probably six months old or so she was tall enough to put her front paws on the kitchen counter so that she could sniff at whatever was there. I, of course, told her that she wasn't allowed to put her front paws on the counter. Being a smart puppy, she taught herself to balance on her back legs so that she could sniff at things on the counter without transgressing my rules. I captured that behavior and put it on command, which makes for a nice trick but does mean I have to be careful about what's on the kitchen counters and where.

Doing agility is a huge amount of fun, and it builds a really strong bond with your dog. I highly recommend the sport! Any breed (or mix) of dog can do agility, but it will probably be easier to train one who likes to play with you.


Copyright © 2004-2018. United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. All rights reserved.