Video Credit: Gretchen Mason We were fortunate enough to talk with 18-year-old Morgan Vance of Team USA about this year’s European Open Junior (EOJ) and agility in general. Question: What is your dog’s name? How old is he/she? What breed is he/she? Morgan’s answer: I run two dogs named Shadow and Scrat. Shadow just turned five and is a Sheltie. Scrat is two-and-a-half years old and is a Border Collie. Question: How long have you and your dogs been competing in agility? Morgan’s answer: I’ve been doing agility for four years now. Question: How did you get into agility? Morgan’s answer: I used to play hockey at a park where they did dog agility. When I finished practice, I would go over to watch all the time. When my brother went to college, my parents got me a dog and I already knew that I wanted to do agility with him. We took obedience classes and then started agility. The agility world really stood out to me because everyone was always really supportive of me as a junior handler. Even when I messed up, people were always very nice and friendly toward me. agility? What’s your least favorite part? Morgan’s answer: The community and the people are my favorite part about agility. And getting to spend time with my dog. My least favorite part is when training goes completely out the window and my dog does something unexplainable on the course. Question: What’s your dogs’ favorite part about agility? What’s your dogs’ least favorite part? Morgan’s answer: Both of my dogs really love tunnels and playing with rubber duckies at the end of a run. Scrat’s least favorite part is staying on contacts. I don’t think Shadow has a least favorite part!
Photo Credit: Terri KiefferQuestion: Where/when do you train? Morgan’s answer: Right now, I only train every other week at my instructor’s field. In the summertime though, I normally train twice a week: once at my instructor’s place, and once as a private lesson somewhere. My trainers are Gretchen Mason and Paulina Simpson. Question: How do you reward your dogs? Morgan’s answer: Lots of praise and a toy (usually a rubber duckie) at the end of a run. 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? Morgan’s answer: I contacted Coach Susan two years ago and I got on the team with Shadow last year. This year, I got on with both Scrat and Shadow. This team was definitely a goal for me since I got Shadow into Masters level competition. 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? Morgan’s answer: My next big competition is the EOJ in Roosendaal, The Netherlands. Shadow and I flew into Amsterdam last year, but Scrat has never been there before since it is his first time on the team. The travel process was a breeze last year, so I’m not very nervous about this year at all. Both of them go under the plane, and they just sleep in their crate the whole time. For flying with dogs, I recommend being prepared ahead of time and trusting your dog and the people transporting him. I’m really looking forward to seeing European handling styles at the EOJ and incorporating them into my training when I get home. 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? Morgan’s answer: Yes, because it gives young people a sense of pride and achievement. It also teaches them how to manage everything that’s going on in their lives such as friends, school, training, etc. Putting aside time to train your dog on top of getting homework done and fundraising (if you’re on the EOJ team) teaches important time management skills that are beneficial for young people to learn. Question: Where should people go to learn more about agility and begin training? Morgan’s answer: Go to a local trial and ask someone to tell you more. They will most likely be happy to help you out!