Polytechnic School junior McKenzie Minto has been involved in dog agility since she was 8 years old. She first discovered agility when she met someone at a dog park who competed with border collies in dog agility and was immediately enamored by the sport.
“I’m always hesitant to attempt to explain dog agility to people because it is so hard to do it justice. My quick explanation is that it’s a timed obstacle course that you do with your dog, but honestly, there is so much more to it than that,” Minto explained.
Training your dog to execute each obstacle is only one piece of the training process; the other aspect is teaching your dog to connect the obstacles by reading slight movements from your shoulders, feet, eyes and verbal ques.
Minto maintains, “The tricky part about agility is that the course of obstacles is composed differently every time, so the handler and the dog have never seen that particular course before. Practicing agility is a never-ending training process because it is all about perfecting a ‘toolbox’ of body queues that your dog can recognize in split seconds and execute the behavior in the most time efficient way possible. ”
McKenzie’s favorite part about agility is the community. “Being a part of the somewhat unknown world of dog agility has given me such a sense of belonging.”
Aside from dog agility, Minto likes training in several other dog sports such as Disc Dog, Sheep Herding and Dock Diving. She also enjoys putting on dog agility and trick demonstrations for kids at schools and birthday parties. She hopes to encourage more junior handlers to compete in dog sports.
Recently, Minto and her border collie, Safari, were selected by the American Kennel Club as one of 19 juniors from throughout the United States to represent Team USA this summer at the 2018 Junior European Open in Holland.
McKenzie and her dogs have attended major competitions, including the 2017 U.S. Open in Florida, the 2016 Junior European Open in Slovakia, and the 2017 Junior European Open in Luxembourg, as well as many other AKC and USDAA regional and national competitions. Her agility trainers are Mia Grant and Sandy Scott at Happy Dog in Moorpark.
For more information on the American Kennel Club’s Junior Agility Team, contact Debby DuBay at firstname.lastname@example.org.