AN INTRODUCTION TO AGILITY

A very brief History . . .

Japanese Spitz is more than just a gorgeous white fluffy dog that looks great in the show ring. Whilst breed showing is a very rewarding pastime, it isn't for everybody and there are many other disciplines in which they excel, from Obedience to Heelwork-to-music and Rally to Agility. This article is aimed at providing an introduction to agility.

So, firstly what is agility and when did it start? To answer this it is actually best to reverse the question.

Reportedly, in 1974 a man named Peter Meanwell either participated in, or witnessed at a farm show, dogs being "driven" around a course of obstacles. In 1978 Meanwell was approached by John Varley, himself tasked with finding suitable entertainment for the audience at Crufts in between the Obedience and Conformation competitions in the main ring. They provided a demonstration of predominantly jumps in an equestrian type format but with the addition of various obstacles which are still used (albeit vastly developed and improved) in today's agility.

In 1980 the Kennel Club became the first organisation to recognise agility as a sport with a sanctioned set of rules, with the first agility show being a team event at Crufts the following year. Originally smaller dogs were not well catered for, having to compete with larger dogs over jump heights set at 30 inches. This changed in the early 1980's with smaller or "mini" dogs under the height of 15 inches given jump heights of 15 inches. Many regional clubs then began to form and the rest is history with agility evolving over the years into the worldwide extravaganza it is today with different official bodies, degrees of competitiveness and jumping heights.

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