In 2017, Miles and I had such a stellar year in AAC agility. Maybe I am a bit of a terrier myself, because success just made me want a new adventure, rather than staying where I was starting to feel comfortable! In 2018, Miles and I started to compete more regularly in AKC Agility. Mid-year we got into the Master’s level, and began earning Championship & Nationals qualification points. We qualified for AKC Nationals and attended this spring! Miles just earned his AKC Agility Preferred Champion title and is a top pick going into AKC Invitationals this winter.
AKC Agility wasn’t an easy path for us to pursue. I am living across the border in Canada, and at first it proved to be a bit of a impediment, comfort-wise. Trying to enter a new community was intimidating! Just figuring out how to sign up for trials requires help. Early on, I asked a trial secretary a simple question, and she said slowly, “This is America…” to me — not realizing I am American…? Next, Miles had to jump a different height and different kinds of jumps than he’s jumped his whole life! Last but not least, EVERY AKC trial we’ve done has been away from home, away from our own bed at night. It seemed pretty unlikely at first that we’d get into it.
It took a lot of courage to try AKC Agility, and it wasn’t until I met Cathy Aragon that I got hooked. Cathy ran her Welsh Terrier Ziba in AKC Agility with great success (MACH9), and was still running with Ziba when we first met. Cathy and I instantly hit it off. It took a little while before I accepted her invitation to stay at her home. I am a fairly anxiously-polite person, and the idea of staying at a new friends house AND competing was scary for me. I can’t thank Cathy enough for changing how I felt, because our adventures to visit her have been life-changing in many ways outside of agility. One of my fondest memories of 2019 is the weekend Miles and I took the Amtrak to Cathy’s, and the next day we all had to stay in a hotel near the competition venue because the rare snowstorm in Seattle was so bad. The next morning, we got lost in the short drive from the hotel to the venue, but we still managed laugh the whole way.
When your dog gets an AKC Agility Champion title, it is tradition to receive a very big ribbon, and to have everyone sign a jump bar!
The Magical Moment
In AKC, there are 6 possible runs in one day, and only two of them count for the Champion title. Standard is all of the obstacles, and Jumpers is Jumps, sometimes tunnels, and a set of 12 weaves. To earn the AKC Agility Champion title, your dog must accumulate 750 points (seconds under course time — speed!) and 20 double Qs (accuracy!). Double Qs are where your dog runs clean in both Jumpers and Standard on the same day.
The last time Miles and I competed in AKC Agility in June, we needed only 1 QQ for Miles’ Champion title. We hadn’t gotten down south in over a month. The weekend after AAC Agility Regionals, Miles and I hopped on the Amtrak train (the Cascades line accepts small dogs!) and headed to Washington State for an AKC Agility Trial. We were signed up for the whole weekend, but and Miles eared his PACH right away on the Friday! In AKC Agility, you tell the event organizers that you are close to your Champion title, and they wait with baited breath as you run the course you need. If you run clean, the second you clear the last obstacle, everyone breaks out into cheers! The organizers then bring you your ribbon and you get to do a victory lap around the ring with your dog. It is such a celebration, as you can see in the video! ❤️
It was a moment I had fantasized about, and the run and celebration were everything I had dreamed of. Cathy was at the sidelines, I think you can even hear her in the video! As I stepped onto the line, I wasn’t nervous. I was actually probably the least nervous I have EVER been near a big title in Miles and my agility career. I felt so loved, and I felt the sum of so much hard work and brave travel, from both Miles and I, all rolled up into a condensed little ball that made up our team. I felt ready. The moment Miles and I achieved his AKC Agility Champion title, it was so nice to celebrate our hard work with a community of wonderful friends.
Gravy to the weekend? Miles won High in Trial Terrier! (Miles was the fastest and most accurate Terrier at the competition).
If you want to see how ridiculous Miles’ official name is now, go to our About page. All that we have accomplished together is just a bonus to what we have together. ☺️
Milesy, the Sponsored Canine Athlete!
With this exciting agility news, I am also proud to announce that Miles has an agility food sponsor! Miles is fuelled by Natural Instincts Specialty Raw Food (special thanks to Korna Natural Pet). I can safely speak for Miles and say he is VERY excited about this fantastic reward for being such a good canine athlete.