Monique Plinck’s dog Tiki has been running through tubes, leaping over obstacles and weaving through posts, hard at work training for the upcoming International Federation of Cynological Sports World Agility Championships, being held in Holland in May.
Plinck, a Middlefield resident, and Tiki have won awards at dog agility competitions in the past, including several at the United States Dog Agility Association’s BARK Agility event. Tiki is a 6-year-old male papillon.
Plinck now trains Tiki at Criterion Agility, a facility she owns and operates in Middlefield, where she teaches her dogs and shares her expertise with others part time to “help pay for my habit,” Plinck said.
The highest honor Plinck has achieved thus far has been winning one of the classes at the world agility open in Belgium in 2012 with Tiki. This year, she said she hopes Tiki may win the overall combined class at IFCS in Holland next May.
The obstacles there include a “dog walk,” “See-saw,” “A-Frame,” “closed tunnel,” “tire jump,” and “weave poles.” IFCS regulations describe with exacting specifications how obstacles are constructed.
During competitions, participants in the sport direct their dogs to run through each obstacle using only hand gestures, and voices (a baton is permitted during relay events) - whistles, toys, and food are forbidden. Trainers run alongside their dogs and direct them through the obstacles. After training, dogs only need to be directed toward an obstacle to know what to do with it. Well-trained dogs will be familiar with the tasks of weaving around poles, running through cloth tunnels, and jumping over posts without touching them.