Interview with Caitlin Ascher
How did you get started in Agility? How long have you been training/competing?
Caitlin Ascher: I don’t actually remember much of my life without Agility. My mom signed us up for a class with our Golden Retrievers when I was six years old. I have now been competing for over 26 years in the sport of Agility.
What about your breed makes it a fantastic Agility partner? Would you choose another breed if you could?
Caitlin Ascher: I personally own Border Collies now, but I can still be seen running a Golden Retriever in most Agility Trials as well. Both breeds are fantastic companions and want to work with their humans.
Border Collies are very athletic and quick dogs, so that naturally gives them an advantage to maneuvering around the Agility course. I don’t think I will ever not have a Border Collie, but I am occasionally tempted to add a Whippet to my household, purely because I think they are very cool (FAST) dogs!
Do you have any tips for anyone who would like to get started in Agility?
Caitlin Ascher: Start with Basic Obedience skills, and train lots of tricks! Agility is a bunch of tricks linked together. Find a local trainer who you connect with and trust, and get ready to have a lot of fun!
What do you find different about competing in the AKC Agility League vs. other Agility Trials?
Caitlin Ascher: The biggest difference is that in the League, we don’t just get one chance at running the course our very best; we get multiple chances. We can go out and train sections of the course beforehand in League, or we can try to run again for a faster time if we happen to have a wide turn.
In a regular AKC trial, you get one chance on the course to run it clean and fast. I think the benefit of League is that we are able to work through challenging sequences under no pressure and create a very positive experience for the dogs, allowing the dog and handler team to gain confidence and build skills.
The different levels of League continue to grow, so there is a league for all skill sets, as well. Whether you are brand new and just beginning to learn different sequences with your dogs, or you have been around awhile and want to test your skills at an international level, the League offers that and everything in between.
What do you find most rewarding or challenging about your sport?
Caitlin Ascher: I think the most rewarding part is seeing your training and partnership with your dog develop. It takes years of training and dedication to fully mature into a great team. The sport is always evolving and this keeps us learning and training, and we are lucky enough to be able to do this alongside our friends.