Agility is a canine activity that has been around since the late 1970s. Dogs negotiate a course of jumps, tunnels, weaves and contact equipment (A frame, See Saw and Dog Walk) with the aim to be both fast and accurate. Winning requires a mix of both as a clear run will always beat another with faults but it’s no good if others were clear and faster.

Papillons are a breed well suited to the discipline as they are clever and speedy little dogs and many compete each year in shows across the breadth of the UK. British Papillons have competed internationally in many agility events over the years achieving successes such as Caeyn (Petitchien Maitre de la Mer) winning the 2012 WAO Pentathlon as well as domestic success through Puzzle (Ac Ch Tonring Just a Puzzle) becoming the only Papillon to date to become an Agility Champion in the UK.

Agility Team competitions are run by the KC each year with the winner of each qualifier progressing to the finals at Crufts the following year. A team comprises of four handlers and dogs who take it in turns to complete the same course, handing over to the next handler by exchanging a baton in much the same way as athletes do in a relay race. The total faults for the four dogs’ runs are added together, with the lowest total being awarded the win. Time is used to split teams that finish on the same cumulative faults.

The Papillon (Butterfly Dog) Club has entered its own team in the Agility Team qualifiers since 2013. The only prerequisites are that the four dogs are all pedigree Papillons and the handlers are members of the club. During 2015 the Papillon Team competed at five of the KC qualifying events. The team changes from one qualifier to the next depending on people’s availability so a big thank you should go out to all those who took part or indeed were reserves at the shows last year. In no particular order handlers involved were: Rachel Dutton with Jack, Debbie Goodwin with Scooter, Keavy McGrath with Mikey, Caragh McGrath with Sam, Emily High with Anton, Jenny Goode with Doodle, Biddy Powell with Flute, Anne Griffiths with Oscar, Gillian Barrett with Poppy, Gemma Tappin with Sky, Jane Stafford with Mr Darcy, JoJo Kemp with Whizz, Sarah Shaw with Skipper, Marion McIlherne with Buzz, Tina Iggulden with Ellie and Martin Iggulden with Pip, and myself with Kyto.

The Club was represented at Tunbridge, Nottingham, Lune Valley, Rugby and Agility Club shows in 2015 and always finished in the top half of the teams competing which isn’t bad for consistency at all! The team narrowly missed out at Agility Club and had to settle for second place being beaten only by a faster time! So close to the green carpet of Crufts! Maybe this year? Here’s hoping that 2016 sees the Papillon Club represented at even more of the qualifiers at least.

If you’d like to find out more about Agility with your Papillon here are some pointers. Does your dog like to run? Is your dog fit and healthy? If yes to both then you should get into agility. Contact the KC to find trainers in your area.