Posted Date: June 9, 2017
A profile of competitor Sue McGinty and her Rat Terrier TaylorSwift.
1. Tell us about your dog. Where did he come from?
TaylorSwift is a six year old Rat Terrier that came from a small Ohio rescue (she was originally from southern Ohio). The person who bought her from the "breeder" found she was too active for her household (go figure) but did not want to take her back to the breeder as she felt it was not a good place to go back to (the dogs were housed outside in less than ideal conditions). So she placed her with a rescue group.
2. How did you end up adopting him?
At the time, I occasionally browsed PetFinder, looking particularly at Rat Terriers. I was interested in a Rat Terrier as my next agility dog as I had two German Shorthaired Pointers and wanted a dog with similar traits but in a smaller package. I love the sleek, short coated athletic breeds with easy going temperaments and high activity levels, and the Rattie fits that profile. When I came across Taylor, her pic just shouted to me "this dog is built for agility." She was also adorable, the perfect age to adopt at one year and less than 50 miles from me. I actually wasn't quite ready to adopt so I quickly shut down the browser, but found myself constantly thinking about her over the next few days. Timing be darned, I put in an application for her and of course ended up adopting her.
3. How did you get involved in agility with your dog?
Saw the Great Outdoor Games on TV back in 2003, did an internet search and found an agility club near me and signed up for lessons with my seven-month-old German Shorthair, Zoe. Being an ex-equestrian, I was hooked from the beginning, as I knew I would be, and Zoe loved it. It was the perfect sport for us and I cant believe I am having this much fun at this point in my life.
4. Did you find that agility helped to improve any behaviors your dog had before you started? How did you feel it helped your relationship?
Many pet owners love their dogs, as I did, but that love and bond is taken to a new level when you are training and competing with your dog. There is just something extra special about that. Of course all that training and exercise is exactly what most dogs need to be a happy healthy companion animal that you want to share your home with.
5. What's something about your dog's personality that you find special?
Taylor is a terrier and while it can be exasperating at times it can also be quite amusing when she decides to be a terrier instead of an agility dog. Our first year of competing saw a lot of NQs due to tunnel sucking, and that totally made me a better handler by working thru that. She is happy and fast and fun to watch on the agility course, and has topped 6 YPS in jumpers. Another plus for her to run in USDAA is that she is exactly 16" tall.
6. What USDAA events have you competed in with your dog?
Taylor has been to Cynosport in Murfreesboro a few years back and may be going back in 2017. We also competed recently at TitleMania where she was the Advanced Standard Dog of the Year. We are now in Masters pursuing her ADCH and compete mostly at Countryside in Erie and Four Seasons in Washingtonville, Ohio.
7. What would you say to people who are considering adopting a dog who might want to do agility some day?
Look for structure and temperament - and especially intense toy or food drive. Taylor didn't come with much toy drive but her food drive is pretty insatiable making her very easy to train. I like to adopt a dog around a year old (and plan on that for my next dog) - you pretty much know what you are getting. If the dog is too shy or scared to eat or play, or is extremely aroused by or reactive to other dogs when you meet them, you are going to have to work really hard to overcome some issues. This can leave less time and energy for doing the fun stuff like agility, or add an additional level of difficulty to your training. Not saying it can't be done but you need to be aware that those behaviors and traits just don't go away because the dog gets some training and exercise. After that, just listen to what your heart and mind are telling you - do you like how the dog looks and acts and can you see yourself and the dog running agility together.
Photo Credit: Top photo: Great Dane Photos. Bottom photo: Sue McGinty