Hi, my name is Rippa. I am a 16-month-old tri-merle Australian Shepherd. On January 25th, 2014, I ventured out to my first UKI agility trial to test out my skills in an actual trial. I am in the early stages of training for agility competition, so I am just learning to put all my foundation skills together. I entered the Nursery Agility and Speedstakes events and hoped to have as much fun in the real, live trial as my mom (Katie) and I do while training. I love to hear her get excited, lavish praise on me and shower me with rewards when I have done something brilliant!

My mom decided that over the next eight to ten months our goal is to enter fun matches and UKI trials to build my confidence and proof my skill performance under trial conditions. UKI allows us to enter NFC (Not for Competition) rounds so we can take toys in the ring! We can’t use food treats, but mom has chained that if I play with her with a toy now, it will earn me cookies later.

On the big day, my mom took my two favorite toys in the ring for reinforcing: a tennis ball and sheep fur tug toy. I held my start line and followed my mom’s handling over the first few obstacles. Mom rewarded me with playing a great game of tug! Next, I ran my dog walk and earned my tennis ball! Finally, we did some more jumps and a tunnel (my favorite!) and played again. I had a blast and didn’t notice anyone that was watching. It was just like one of my training sessions. This practicing my skills to get me ready for competition was FUN! Mom says we are going to travel to new environments with different distractions and equipment. I can’t wait to do it again.

My goal is to gradually do longer and longer sequences before getting rewarded in the ring at one of these UKI trials. Ultimately, I hope to complete an entire course with my toy outside the ring. I know mom will play with me at the end for my beautiful performance (and she will earn that beautiful BLUE ribbon to brag with)! For now, I am having a great time meeting new people and playing agility. By the way, just so you know that NFC rounds are not just for babies, mom even entered my big sister, Merit in one this weekend. She knew Merit had been sporadically struggling with weave poles and thought this might build her confidence. Merit did an awesome weave entry and mom surprised her with a tugging session!

UKI founders, Greg and Laura Derrett were really onto something when they decided to let us learn and refine our skills with NFC rounds. My mom and I are very grateful.