Nationals Agility Team Spotlight:
Tom Ikeda and Kuma

At Nationals, I had the great pleasure of being tented beside Tom and Lynne Ikeda. Tom and Lynne have two rescue Schnauzers, Pepper and Kuma. I immediately hit it off with Lynne, who really helped me get through the stress of what I was going through. Tom is one of the most impressive agility handlers I have watched. Kuma is an energetic, vocal, and excitable dog. Tom’s handling style is strong, steady, and subtle. He is a supportive handler, and his directions are minimal and to-the-point. This type of calm focused handling clearly works well for Kuma, who is able to channel his strong drive towards the sport – which he clearly loves. 
A while back, I talked (here) about working with a high drive dog, and how many people have told me that the most amazing agility teams are those where the handler has worked very hard with their dog, while allowing the dog to maintain his natural drive, rather than stiffling that wildness. Stifling the wildness to quickly gain more control can seem easier short-term, but can lead to a joyless experience for the dog, in training, and down the road, in competitions. Taking the time to teach a high drive dog control while allowing the dog to be themselves is priceless and worth the extra time, patience, and effort. The potential of the dog will come through, and they will enjoy the experiences. Tom is a perfect example of a handler who has worked very hard with his dog, and who clearly respects who his dog is. Kuma runs every course full force, and is always either looking at the next obstacle, or his trusted teammate Tom.
Here is what Lynne has to say about Tom and Kuma:

Kuma came to live with us when he was 3 months old. He and his sister were available for adoption – we were told that if we just wanted a loving pet, we should take the girl; if we wanted to do agility as well, we should take the boy. He was an active little pup and really had us hopping to keep up with his wild antics. Tom worked every day with him and our other dog, Pepper, and soon had Kuma calming down and becoming the dog he is now. Kuma is now 5 years old, is still a work in progress. He has at least 11 titles to his name, is in the Masters group for Agility and also participates in Obedience, and Rally O.

Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma

Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma

Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
{  Tom and Kuma were crowd favorites at Nationals  }
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
{  This one is out of focus but I love Kuma’s posture!  }

Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
{  Kuma: “Tom we did it!”  }

Nationals Agility Team Spotlight: </br>Tom Ikeda and Kuma
{  Tom: “Yes, we did.”  }
… And finally, a video:

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