I remember it like it was yesterday. The pet store clerk looked me dead in the eyes and matter-of-factly stated, “You had better find that dog a job.”
Maverick was barely 6 months old at the time and dragging me around the pet store. In other words, he was being his typical energetic self. I told her that he was a Labrador Retriever – Queensland Heeler mix. I kind of laughed off the suggestion, but little did I know at the time how valuable the advice would be.
It took another year and a half, November 2020, before Abbey and I started taking him to agility class. He was a quick study and appeared to enjoy negotiating all the obstacles (well, almost all the obstacles – we’ll talk about the weave poles and the A-frame mishap some other time). More importantly, he was exhausted both physically and mentally after class. That’s when we knew we were on to something. We had found Maverick’s calling, his occupation, his job.
Since that time, we’ve been regularly taking him to his class once a week. Abbey typically works with him when she’s not a school, and I fill in to keep him sharp while she’s away.
Earlier this year, after having spent well over a year in training, Abbey and I talked about entering him in a trial. We figured it would be a good idea to put our skills to the test. Well, more specifically, we decided to put Abbey’s handling skills to the test. Blair, the trainer we work with, told us about a trial that she was planning to attend where she would be working with one her new agility dogs. Maverick had a date for his first trial. The weekend of July 23rd at Freedom Park would be his debut event.
Abbey and Maverick registered for both days, the 23rd and 24th, and two events each day – Novice Standard (STD) and Novice Jumpers With Weaves (JWW). The first day went about as expected. Maverick didn’t complete a qualifying run, although he came pretty close on the JWW course. The second day was a different story. He had an encouraging run on the Standard course but didn’t qualify. On the JWW course however, their run was nearly flawless. They performed so well that they took home first place in the Novice division. It was great to see all of Abbey’s hard work with Maverick pay off. Based on their performance, we decided to sign-up for another trial at the beginning of August.
The second trail took place the weekend of August 6th at the Camarillo Community Center. We entered Abbey and Maverick for the same two events both Saturday and Sunday. Once again, he came up short in the Novice Standard events, but he registered another qualify run in the Novice JWW event. Here’s the video of Maverick and Abbey navigating the course.
And yes, it was another first place run.
Overall, not a bad showing for his first two trials – two qualify runs and two first place ribbons. And so it begins, Maverick’s agility journey. The biggest challenge ahead of us now is Abbey’s return to school. It means I’ve been handed the handling reins for the next couple of events. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to match Abbey’s performances. Wish me luck, something tells me I’m going to need it!