Video Credit: Margaret Hughes Before the European Open Junior (EOJ) event this coming July, 15-year-old Team USA member Emma Hughes talked about competing in agility with her dog, Milly. Question: How old is your dog? What breed is he/she? Emma’s answer: Milly is 10 years old. She’s a Shetland sheepdog (sheltie). Question: How long have you and your dog been competing in agility? Emma’s answer: I’ve been doing agility for about 11 years. Question: How did you get into agility? Emma’s answer: My mom did agility when I was little, so I started by running her dog when I was just 4 years old. About 2 years later, we got Milly and we have been doing agility with each other for 8 years. The thing that stood out to me about agility was the energy of it, both on and off the course. I like that everyone is really supportive of each other whether we succeed or not. I’m also seeing a lot more juniors coming up in this sport and I’m really glad to see that it’s becoming more popular for young people. Question: What’s your favorite part about agility? What’s your least favorite part? Emma’s answer: I love the feeling of handling and the camaraderie between dog and human. Sometimes I feel that people can get too competitive and put too much pressure on themselves and their dogs. However, I think that’s the case with every sport! Question: What’s your dog’s favorite part about agility? What’s your dog’s least favorite part? Emma’s answer: I’d like to say that she likes the running part, but to be honest, I think she really just likes all the treats she gets at the end. Milly does not like anything having to do with waiting, like the table and the teeter. She also doesn't like waiting her turn before we go into the ring.
Photo Credit: Margaret HughesQuestion: Where/when do you train? Emma’s answer: I try to train every day or every other day. I usually work in my own backyard, but I also take lessons with Lisa Carol Ross, a local trainer here in Washington. Question: How long have you been part of the AKC EOJ Agility Team USA? How did you get on the team? Has this been a goal for you since you started agility? Emma’s answer: The application process is pretty easy; you just have to send in a couple videos of runs and fill out an online form. I know that the Great Britain EOJ Team has actual tryouts, so I found it pretty interesting to see how different it is for USA. This will be our third year on Team USA. I’m really excited because each year just gets better and better! When I was really little, I wanted to make the EO team with Milly. Milly is too old to try out for EO now, so I think that EOJ is the best alternative to that. In fact, EOJ is probably more fun because it’s with people under 18 only! Question: What are you looking forward to most in terms of competition? Will you be traveling a long distance? Do you have any tips for those traveling with pets? Emma’s answer: I have a local competition coming up at Fun Fur Paws, which should be good practice for EOJ. I’ve been to that site many times. My next big competition is the EOJ 2018 in The Netherlands. I’ve never been to that country before, but I have been to the EOJ. I’m curious to see the actual site of the event this year! I’m a little nervous about traveling there, but once I get there, I know it’s going to be so much fun. Milly is great at traveling on the plane. If you have a small dog like Milly, I recommend having them at your seat on the plane so you can keep an eye on them and give them food if necessary. I’m really looking forward to seeing and meeting everyone on the team this year. Last year was the first year that USA had a full team, which made it super fun to do activities together and chant for our teammates from the sidelines. Question: Do you give your dog 1TDC™? For how long? What differences have you seen it make for your dog? Emma’s answer: I’ve been giving 1TDC™ to my dogs on and off since about 2016. I see a big difference when Milly takes 1TDC, especially since she is pretty old. Before EOJ 2017 in Luxembourg, she would start limping after doing agility and have to rest for a day or so. That really worried us, so we put her on 1TDC and now she doesn’t limp anymore! Question: Do you think agility is a good sport for other young people to be involved in? What do you think agility has taught you and could teach other youth? Emma’s answer: A lot of kids have dogs and I know a lot of friends who really want to do agility with their dogs. Aside from being a great way to bond with your dog, it also teaches you valuable skills such as thinking on your feet and always being positive. It’s also a great way for kids to get exercise! Question: Where should people go to learn more about agility and begin training? Emma’s answer: There are a lot of beginning agility instructors in my area, so you can just contact one of them and start taking lessons! The AKC website has a lot of information about agility. There’s also a lot of agility in 4-H, so that would be a good way to get started because the teachers are actual agility instructors. 1TDC™ will be cheering on Emma, Milly, and the rest of Team USA at the EOJ this July!