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Doncaster Features: News: Bentley Couple's Canine Hurdle
Report by Donny Online Reporter Phil Medlicott
A competitive Bentley couple have built home-made equipment to train their dogs – and are moving house to improve their preparation for shows.
Julia Banks and Kevin Dixon, of Bentley Road, have constructed hurdles from plumbing fittings so that their dogs can practice jumps between their weekly agility classes.
They have been taking their German Weimaraners, Millie and Fynn, and Japanese Akita Khan to the ‘Delinquent Dogz’ agility sessions in Wickersley for six months.
They built the hurdles in July, and with four-year-old Millie notching her first competitive top-three finish in November, the couple have decided to move to a more spacious property in Sprotbrough to make regular training easier.
“We’re moving to a house with a bigger garden so that we can practise on a daily basis” said Julia, 37. “Because our garden is fairly limited, we can only get two jumps out. Come spring, Kevin will want to practice a lot with Millie – he gets quite competitive.”
The couple, who run a granite masons in Doncaster, have high hopes for their dogs in 2008. Fynn and Khan, who attend the sessions to socialise with other dogs, will soon be old enough to take part in training, whilst Millie will be entered into a range of competitions, including the annual Weimaraner show in Grimsby.
Julia and Kevin have also introduced other residents from their street to the agility sessions, having met them at obedience classes in Bentley.
Rae Cooper brings her Akitas Troy and Roxy along every week, whilst Sarah Thorpe has been attending for three months with her Boxer Gem and her mother’s Labrador Ruby. Sarah, 23, also has equipment at home, but bought her jumps and weave poles from the local pet shop.
Michelle Ainsworth, who runs the classes on her family’s land at Honeysuckle Cottage, praised Julia and Kevin for their commitment to agility training. “Not many people at all do what Julia and Kevin done, because not many people have got the enthusiasm for the sport that they have” she said.
The Ainsworths founded Delinquent Dogz in 2005. “We started running this club because we knew there was a lot of interest around the Sheffield and Doncaster area” said Michelle, who owns six dogs and has judged over 20,000 at regional shows.
The club currently has forty members, who range from 13 to 74 years of age and bring a full range of breeds to the sessions.
As well as the weekly classes, weekend shows are held throughout the year in the site’s four competition-sized rings. This will be expanded next year, and the Ainsworths plan to eventually open an indoor arena for winter competitions.
They also hope to raise £5,000 to sponsor a guide dog for the blind, in tribute to Michelle’s aunt, Beryl Milton, who passed away five years ago.
Although the international dog-show Crufts started in the late 1800s, the first agility demonstration was not until 1978. In agility competitions, owners must guide their dogs around an obstacle course against the clock by issuing verbal commands.
“Agility is a natural progression from obedience training” said Julia. “The dogs are being mentally and physically challenged.”
Julia feels that more owners should get involved in classes and shows like the ones held at Honeysuckle Cottage. She and Kevin hope to increase awareness by creating a website for Delinquent Dogz in the New Year.
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