CLINTON — Nancy Mulholland and her 8-year-old golden retriever Maggie move as one on an agility course. The pair have been practicing the sport for almost six years.
“I was going to some obedience classes at the Ericksen Center and they were running an agility class at the time. And of course, I had to go and watch what they were doing and it looked interesting and something fun to do with the dog,” Nancy said.
At least six times a year, the duo participates in competitions in Moline, Ill. Maggie performs jumpers, going over jumps and through tunnels. She also does standard competitions, running up teeter totters and dog walks. Nancy can tell Maggie enjoys the activity as much as she does.
“If they don’t enjoy it, they don’t jump over the jumps and stuff,” Nancy said. “You can tell if a dogs really like it or not by how they act out there.”
Nancy finds it amazing that her friend can even compete after tearing the ACL in her back left leg when she was 4, which required surgery on her knee and six months of rehabilitation. Maggie competes in the preferred classification, allowing her to run with a little extra time and at a lower height.
Recently, Nancy and Maggie earned a Preferred Agility Championship title. This is awarded after a team has 20 double Q’s, or two “clean” runs on the same day. Maggie finished her requirements with a streak of nine double Q’s in a row.
A clean run means a dog performs perfectly without any faults. Possible faults include displacing a bar while jumping, refusal to attempt an obstacle, entering weave poles incorrectly, running past an obstacle and going over the maximum allotted time.
“So she has to learn not only what my body is doing, but also what I’m telling her to do,” Nancy said.
Nancy and Maggie practice a couple times a week. Nancy teaches art at Washington Middle School and also makes time to draw and sculpt. She especially enjoys building doll houses.
Nancy said Maggie probably has at least a few good years left for agility training. She hopes to continue for a while.
“It’s just so much fun to run,” Nancy said. “I’m 53, and it keeps you active.”