"Petroplolis", June 15, 2005
Dogs Explore Their Inner Athlete
Jump City Agility owner, Cara Callaway, was featured in an article in the LA Times Saturday edition article in the Petropolis Special
Advertising Supplement on June 15, 2005. The following is an excerpt from
the article written by By Bekah Wright, Special
Advertising Sections Writer.
Dogs Explore Their Inner Athlete
After listening to friends rave about the great activities they’d been doing
with their dogs in Los Angeles — everything from hikes to yoga — I decided to
see what all the fuss was about.
Undaunted about not having a dog of my
own, I organized a play date with my friends Susan Hartzler and Kimberlee Smith
and their four dogs, Baldwin, Bliss, Ginger and Simon. It didn’t make a
difference whether it was Frisbee classes or K9 Basketball — the dogs proved
that if you have double the number of legs, you have double the fun.
At first glance, an agility course
looks akin to a circus ring with teeter-totters, tunnels, weave poles, jumps and
contact obstacles. But the dogs didn’t clown around when they tried one out at
Experienced 6-year-old Baldwin, a
Hungarian sheepdog who was ranked No. 1 in his breed by the American Kennel Club
(AKC) for the most agility wins in the U.S. in 2001, ran the course with
Hartzler sprinting alongside to give encouragement.
“You work as a team and rely on each
other to negotiate courses,” is how trainer Cara Callaway of Jump City Agility
in Van Nuys describes it. “It’s truly a bonding experience.” A derivative of
equine show jumping, agility training originated in England in 1978, reaching
the United States in 1994. According to AKC, it’s the fastest-growing dog sport
Callaway said any dog older than 6
months can participate as long as they’re in good physical condition. All that’s
needed to get started is basic command knowledge such as “sit,” “stay” and
“come” and once-a-week training to keep the routine down. After six months, most
newbies get the hang of it. Their owners then can enter competitions, where
they’ll be judged on speed and agility.
“You can’t do anything wrong,” said
Callaway. “Agility training is all positive.”
But when Simon, a newcomer to agility
training, tried the course, the miniature Australian shepherd found a way to
beat the system. Instead of leaping over the course jumps, he scooted under
Jump City Agility’s weekly one-hour
classes at Balboa Park in Encino cost $65 per month. (818) 920-0622;
To learn more, visit the United States Dog Agility Assn.’s website at
How I Survived
My First AKC National Agility Championships
by Cara Callaway
The AKC National Agility Championships will be
held in Long Beach, CA this year(2003) in December. Since several Jump City students
have already qualified to participate, and hopefully many more of you will be
attending as spectators, I thought it appropriate to share this article I wrote
after my first "Nationals" experience.
As the time to leave for the
AKC National Agility Championships in Chicago in October 1997 got closer and
closer, the buzz in my head got louder and louder - "What was I thinking?"
Yet here I was, planning on subjecting my precious Teddy to the perils of his
first airplane ride (hadn't I heard all the horror stories of what happens to
dogs on planes?), spending probably $800 to $1000 on the trip (didn't I have
bills to pay?), and leaving my neurotic little Scout home alone with my son (was
he really listening when I told him where to find the number for the vet?).
I always believed my dogs and I had gotten as far as we had in agility because
of some fluke, but here I was thinking we could run with the big dogs at the
NATIONALS where the Best of the Best come to rack up perfect scores on courses
impossible for mere mortals to navigate. A lack of self-esteem you say? Not when
you're a fifty-something klutz with a hard-headed Cattle Dog who forgot how to
weave in his last few shows. And if you think you get nervous before a run at a
regular trial, try waiting for your first run on the first course of your first
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! Holy Dog Walk, what was I thinking!!
scene is set: Chicago - sun rising over Lake Michigan, dogs and crates waiting
at the hotel to be loaded on shuttle buses headed for the show site; exhibitors
in running suits walking like astronauts, nervous but excited, down the last
ramp to the space craft. Opening ceremonies - National Anthem, rules of the
games and "good luck" from the head of the AKC agility program. But who could
pay attention? I had the first course map!!
Time to walk the course.
Yeah, you and all the 150 other handlers! The field was so full of handlers it
was almost impossible to get a clear view of the course ahead of you. Luckily,
they later broke down the course walks into two jump height groups. Nonetheless,
the 16" dogs ran last in the 2nd round on Saturday and it was 4-1/2 hours from
the time I walked the course until I actually ran it - Yikes! What was I
I sat and watched, waiting for my turn, glued to ringside and
mesmerized by the agility and skill of the Best of the Best - but wait, what's
this? My Agility Heroes, the Best of the Best, the International Champions -
they're what? Making mistakes? Getting refusals? Taking wrong obstacles? Wait,
this course - why, why it's just another course, hard but "do-able" - over,
over, tire, tunnel, A-frame!
Slowly the fear started to subside and was
eventually pushed into a corner making room for pure, unadulterated excitement
that we were here, at the NATIONALS, me and my dog.
The scoring was tough
with 18 points off for every fault. The times were fast and minus the extra 5
seconds for the table. Runs with a single wrong course that would have qualified
in "real life", pretty much knocked you out of top competition. But you ran each
round as if it meant everything because even the Best of the Best could bungle a
weave pole entry or knock a bar and move you up a few notches.
left for Chicago, a friend tried to put if all into perspective for me when she
said that even if things went very, very badly, we could at least consider
ourselves the Worst of the Best. And as it turned out, we weren't the Worst of
the Best. We were more like the Mediocre of the Best, and it was, after all, an
honor just to be invited to run with the big dogs, the Best of the Best.
Do I want to be in the top ten next year at the AKC National Agility
Championships, pulled out of the regular running order, pale faced, shaky
and sweaty palmed, to run last against the Best of the Best to see who wins? You
bet I do!
What am I thinking !!
The sequel to this, "The
Nationals Revisited", will appear in the next issue of Jump City Barker.
Rescue Me! -
Rescue Dogs and Agility
by Katie Grant Shalin
Jump City Agilty's canine student body is
choc full of pedigreed pooches with bloodlines that can be documented for
generations. Running right along side these dogs are pups that are just as
pampered and loved but whose histories are less clear. I am talking, of course,
about rescue dogs. They have found their homes and agility via pounds, breed
rescues and even the busy streets of Los Angeles.
participation is booming in the USA and it is not just for AKC registerable dogs
anymore. NADAC and USDAA are both completely welcoming of mixed breed dogs and
have had many national champions who are rescues. AKC's ILP program allows
purebred rescues the ability to compete in Agility as well as other
The AKC is giving more and more attention
to their ILP rescue dogs. They could not ignore them if they wanted to.. The
highest titled agility dog in the AKC is MACH 8 Molly a rescued Keeshond."We
know that a fair amount if ILP dogs that have come through rescue." Says Krista
Woolf, Special Services Coordinater of the AKC, "We are always pleased to hear
about rescue dogs that have fun competing. We encourage breed rescue programs."|
Talk to anyone who has a rescued dog and you'll see right away that the bonds
run deep. " Every time I plan on getting a puppy from a breeder", says Eileen
Hayworth" I end up with another rescue. They speak to my heart." Eileen and Dan
Hayworth may be Jump City's rescue King and Queen. They have several border
collies and a shih tzu, all rescues. " Border Collie rescue is overflowing all
the time because the breed is so popular and people just can't handle them.
These dogs need homes that can manage them."
Rusty Leavit and his family
are the third and final home to their rescued Aussie Isabel.
"She had some
abandonment issues when she came to us." Says Rusty " Agility has helped to calm
her down a bit."
Training rescue dogs in agility is not always the
easiest thing to do."The principles are the same [as with any dog] However, the
baggage can be different." SPCLA and Jump City trainer Jill-Marie Yorey says ,
"With some rescues you need to spend time building a bond before you start
training. I find with many rescues, people don't spend enough time trying to
figure them out in the beginning. I do think agility is a great way to rebuild
confidence in dogs that may have had it shattered for any number of reasons. In
the beginning these dogs may appear to be those types that hate agility, but
with a little perseverance you often find these dogs turn out to be the best
dogs as companions and agility partners".
My own dog, a rescued shih
named Zoë, came to me a smelly sickly pound dog Thanks to a lot of mutual love
and the joy of agility, Zoë and I were ask to line up right behind all of the
puffed and fluffed shih tzus in the Parade of Champions at the Shih Tzu Agility
Nationals to accept award for high in trial. As any rescue worker or owner will
tell you those kinds of moments are all the more rewarding because you know how
far you and your dog have come.
Feature: Cara Callaway
by Katie Grant Shalin
If you have ever been to a Jump City
agility trial, you know Cara by the bright orange vest she wears so everyone
knows that she is in charge. At Balboa, park it is her laugh and good mood
that tell you she is Jump City's fearless leader. This month, as the first in
a series on Jump City's teachers, I talked with Cara about her career in dog
agility with her cattle dogs Teddy and Scout.
What moment stands out in
your mind as the best agility moment ever?
I still get teary when
I talk about this but it is the state team finals in 1998. All day my friend
was saying you're in the top ten....you're in the top five... and then you're
on the team! Right before I was getting ready to run everyone was screaming
but suddenly we just focused in and it went very quiet. It was Teddy's kind of
course, lot's of serpentines and really tight turns and we had… it was just
the perfect run, and it was that run along with another of my teammates run
that got California the Silver medal.
What has been your biggest
Weave poles. His whole career Teddy has had
inconsistent weave poles. I have tried every technique and workshop and at ten
years old they are still inconsistent.
You have often said that Scout,
is your strongest dog? Why?
Scout has more attitude and edge than
Teddy. She forced me to be a better handler. With Teddy it is "slow and steady
wins the race", but with Scout, because she is so tuned in to me, one false
flick of the wrist on my part and she is over the wrong jump. Teddy saves me a
lot, but with Scout I have to be perfect, but when a run is clean it is fast
embarrassing agility moments you care to share with your students?
Scout used to ALWAYS poop on the course. I mean ALWAYS. The gate steward used
to ask me if I had a bag before I ran. She outgrew it. Thank God.
How has the sport changed since
you started in 1994?
Times are faster turns are tighter and the
handling is way more sophisticated. I also think we are seeing more of the
giant breeds competing than we once did. Danes etc.
What attracted you to Cattle
The Challenge! They are smart like border collies but not as
you like life outside the 9-5 world?
I have never worked harder in
my life, but I love it. I would never go back. I owe everything I have in my
life today to Teddy.
Magazine thinks we're the best!
Here's what the August, 2003 issue of
Los Angeles Magazine
says about us in its annual Best of L.A. cover story:
Seven years ago Cara Callaway quit her law firm
administration job to focus on her first love-helping Rover to be nimble. Now
she runs JUMP CITY AGILITY, where obstacle course programs get schnauzers and
pointers into shape. Callaway, who teaches group and individual classes at her
North Hills home and at Balboa Park in Van Nuys, has well over 100 students and
often maintains a waiting list for the beginners class in which dogs of all
sizes undertake a variety of challenges. Many of Callaway's charges have gone on
to competition, but that's not necessarily the goal. "It's a very happy place,"
says Callaway. "We reward the good and ignore the bad."
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