Video Credit: Jessica Hindenach We spoke with 16-year-old Hope Hindenach, another member of European Open Junior (EOJ) Team USA before this year’s competition in The Netherlands. Question: What is your dog’s name? How old is he/she? What breed is he/she? Hope’s answer: My dog’s name is Jagger. He’ll be 3 years old in July, and he’s a border collie. Question: How long have you and your dog been competing in agility? Hope’s answer: I’ve been competing for almost 2 years. Question: How did you get into agility? Hope’s answer: I’m self-taught; I’ve never taken any kind of class or lesson for agility. I started by just renting the agility floor at my local training center. I just brought my border collie out there to introduce him to the obstacles—I knew the breed is good at agility—and now I’m in Excellent level in AKC! Before I even had Jagger, I loved watching videos of agility on YouTube. I learned SO much by watching Crufts videos and then bringing skills from those videos into my own training. Question: What’s your favorite part about agility? What’s your least favorite part? Hope’s answer: My favorite part about agility is that you and your dog get to be a team. A lot of other dog sports require training and then the dog knows how to do it. Agility not only requires training, but there’s always that teamwork element to it that is necessary to be successful. I just love the teamwork that’s in agility. It’s hard to think about my least favorite part about agility! Do I even have one? I suppose that my least favorite aspect would probably be the way a lot of people approach it. They approach it like a competition, as if it’s them against everybody else. But, really, agility should just be about having fun with your dog! It is a competition, but I see many people who are just there to win instead of enjoying the sport for how fun it is!
Photo Credit: Jessica HindenachQuestion: What’s your dog’s favorite part about agility? What’s your dog’s least favorite part? Hope’s answer: Jagger’s favorite obstacle is probably the A-frame. He loves to fly over the top of the arch. He also really enjoys being off leash and getting to run around. Jagger really loves agility! His least favorite part would probably be the waiting. His least favorite obstacle would probably be the teeter because he hates having to stop at the end for it to go down. Question: Where/when do you train? Hope’s answer: I train once or twice a week at The Well-Mannered Dog Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I rent the field for $10 per hour and work on their obstacles. I do have a 4-H leader who joins me, but I’m usually the one helping her with agility. 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? Hope’s answer: I found out that I was actually going about 4 months ago. I was originally chosen as an alternate and I later found out that I became a real member. I think I cried when the coach called me with the news. The application process was really easy actually. I just filled out a form and emailed two videos of runs to the coaches. Then I just waited for the call! I had never heard of the EOJ team before I was tagged in a Facebook post about it earlier in the year. Going to the bigger shows like Crufts has always been my dream. I feel like the EOJ is almost a bigger event than Crufts, though. 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? Hope’s answer: My next competition is in late May at The Well-Mannered Dog Center, so it’s nice to compete at a familiar location. I am a little nervous because this is our first time competing at the Excellent level and we haven’t yet gotten a leg at one of those courses. The EOJ is in The Netherlands in mid-July. I’ve never been there before because I’ve never even traveled outside of my state before! I’ve never been on a plane before, so I am quite nervous about that, especially with having Jagger on board for such a long flight. I’m really looking forward to the experience of EOJ and making new friends. 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? Hope’s answer: I think it’s a great sport for youth to be involved in because it teaches responsibility. I had to pick up a lot of slack when it came to training my own dog to do certain behaviors. I try to get all of my friends to do it too because I honestly think agility is such a great sport for young people to be involved in. The only downside would be that some of the people aren’t super welcoming to kids. If anything, though, it teaches kids how to deal with someone who may not like them, which is a really important life skill. Jagger and I are so close, and I really think that bond is due to the connection we form while doing agility. Question: Where should people go to learn more about agility and begin training? Hope’s answer: I recommend watching YouTube videos and studying how people handle. Then you can find a local training business and either rent the field like I do or take classes. If you don’t have a local agility facility, you can always make your own equipment and start working in your own yard! Good luck to Hope and Jagger during this year’s EOJ in The Netherlands!