Interview with Kara Mackenzie
How did you get started in Agility? How long have you been training/competing?
Kara Mackenzie: Believe it or not, I started in Agility back in the mid-1990s. I had two dogs that I trained in my yard, and my horse-riding instructor said that she had started taking Agility classes at a local place. That local place had a summer Junior’s class that just started, and it was over from there. I am still in contact with my very first instructor!
I am now a full-time Agility instructor and have been teaching for almost 13 years now. I own a facility called FASTDoggie, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What about your breed makes it a fantastic Agility partner? Would you choose another breed if you could?
Kara Mackenzie: The dog I ran in League is my semi-retired sport mix named “Maven.” She is half Border Collie and half Staffy Bull Terrier. I am mainly a Border Collie person, though! They are a fun breed that is up for anything, but one of the most important things is that they have a lot of heart. (One of my favorite things is running Agility with a lot of heart!)
There are several breeds that I would love to have, but I, for some reason, keep getting more Border Collies!
Do you have any tips for anyone who would like to get started in Agility?
Kara Mackenzie: Find a good Agility school that trains for competition and that does not cut corners. Sometimes the wait lists can be long to get into good classes, but trust me, it is way worth it.
What do you find different about competing in the AKC Agility League vs. other Agility Trials?
Kara Mackenzie: I believe the League has helped several of my students bridge the gap between training and competing. The pressure of being judged and timed for the League brought that little extra edge to get extra preparation for the actual competition ring. So many competitors in the past have always said how difficult it was to go from the training part of Agility to actual competition.
I have encouraged many of my Novice students to participate in League, as I believe it has helped them tremendously already. The League is a great, lower pressure way to assess your training before going to a real competition where your nerves can be a big factor.
What do you find most rewarding or challenging about your sport?
Kara Mackenzie: Simply, there will never be perfection. You can work for it as best as you can, but you will never run out of things to train. You will continue striving to improve your training, how to better understand dog behavior, and so much more. No matter what, the sport evolves, and so must your training and handling. You will never be stagnant if you keep pushing yourself for growth!
When we had the opportunity to sign up for League, I had a three-dog team already in mind with my two students and friends; Michele Fritz with her dog “Bravo” and Michelle Rubio with her dog “Lexi.” It was super-fun pushing each other to get the fastest runs possible. As for my personal dog, she turned 11 during the last season of League, and her amazing career that has taken me all over the world is starting to come to a close. It was fun to be able to do another thing with her and let her show that she “still has it!”
Featured photo: ‘Maven’ and Kara on top of the summit of Mt. Yale, elevation of 14,200 ft.