My appreciation for dog agility has skyrocketed over the past year, as my increased exposure has allowed me to witness the diverse attributes that draw enthusiasts of every age to the sport.
Agility proves to be a wonderful form of exercise for both owners & their companion dogs. From practicing a skill to running a course, one’s limbs & heart are not the only parts of the body receiving a great workout; rather, agility is the perfect sport for your mind, as handlers must work to memorize courses and accurately direct and signal their dog. The varieties of verbal & nonverbal communication taking place are exhilarating to observe. From the stands you’ll see performance art ranging from dogs floating over jumps & speeding through weave poles to best friends blissfully trotting along or running at top speed. From the novice handler & their canine partner, to the honed performers, to the pair that continue their love of the sport as one or both have matured with time… the bond and dedication shown in the ring is something to admire and adore… and the door is open to every dog, as purebreds, mixed breeds and rescues all excel at agility.
Since launching agility classes at The Center at Animal Humane last November, our trainers have provided instruction to nearly 90 students in our first six months. Many of our students are local, but others travel from Santa Fe, Taos, Alamogordo, and even Durango, Colorado.
Watching and listening to our accomplished agility instructors is a joy, as they masterfully provide tailored lessons for each handler-dog pair to introduce them to agility, strengthen the bond between them and celebrate their dual performances; and our students are exuberantly expressing their gratitude for the instruction as well as our new training space.
Alan Hann, current student at The Center:
“The Center is a great facility with wonderful instructors. No matter how green you are, or how good you are, Kim Terrill has the ability to help you become better. She has a knack for helping anybody she works with… from someone with their first dog to someone who has been competing for years.”
Alan also shared that, “I’ve never been involved in anything as exciting as agility. It brings an essence of humor to everyday life, as anything can happen in the ring and nothing is more satisfying than when you perform your best and your dog is part of a beautifully choreographed routine. You’ll see dogs do happy dances once they finish and everyone is cheering for you… and this comradery is a wonderful side effect that I did not expect. I’ve met teachers, lawyers, plumbers, orthopedic surgeons and ranchers. No one cares what you do or have; rather, everyone is happy for your success.”
MaryMac Gardner, current student at The Center:
“Agility is a good way to stay young as you have to run, think & speak… all at the same time… quickly. Who needs a crossword puzzle, when you have an everchanging course to traverse after only 8 minutes of walking it to determine where you’ll cue your pet. And much like yoga, you need not compare yourself to others, as our skilled instructors give each handler techniques unique to them & their dog.”
MaryMac shares that The Center has the best footing in town and fellow students are friendly & supportive and that they have a lot of fun at practice, local trials, and when traveling to regional competitions together. As a 20-year agility enthusiast, her advice is to focus on your achievements as they come and have fun with your dog. Dogs care about playing the game with their human, not about winning, ribbons, or titles.
“Any dog can do it, as long as they like it. Beginning lessons focus on you playing with your pet & having them discover that you are more interesting than anything else and that the two of you always have a great time together. With their focus comes increased confidence — as well as excellent manners and recall,” says MaryMac. So even if you don’t aspire to cover your wall in American Kennel Club or United States Dog Agility Association ribbons — both now accepting mixed breeds — you’ll have more fun with your pet than you can imagine and build a love and memories that will last a lifetime.
And that’s the beautiful world of agility at The Center. It’s chess meets cardio with humor & camaraderie thrown into the mix. And this fastest growing dog sport, along with instruction in competitive obedience, clicker training & core work coming soon, are our latest layers of training and resources offered for pets and their people… all generating valuable revenue to sustain our services & programs that serve thousands.
We are grateful to our new students at The Center and the passion our instructors share with each of them. We are equally thankful to you — our donors — whose support allows our shelter to evolve so that we may continue to help people find, keep and increase their bonds with their pets to live happy & healthy lives together.
Our fields are merely half of Phase I construction at The Center, with our new 2,380 square-foot Training Building, offering diverse instruction and coming online this summer, being the other important part.
With a recent award of a $50,000 grant from the Petco Foundation, we are pleased to announce that we’ve secured 65% of our $2M fundraising goal. We would be honored to discuss the remaining naming opportunities with you. To learn more about and tour Phases II & III in the making, please contact Donna M. Stumpf at 505.938.7888 or [email protected]
We look forward to seeing you at The Center!
Donna M. Stumpf