channels and stopped to watch the AKC Westminster Kennel Club show on television. We watched all the won- derful dogs and then the hound group came into the ring. All of a sudden there was Roger Caras announcing the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen. We watched, excited and smitten by this little dog with the huge personality and endless charm. That did it. We wanted one. That was sixteen years ago, and today, five PBGVs later, the magic has not worn off. The enchantment remains. I often tell people who inquire of the breed, that you have to have a sense of humor in order to appreciate and navigate life with this breed. You do. I also tell them that they will never have a bad day that a PBGV couldn’t make better. They will. They are a cap- tivating and wonderful breed and some- times you can’t have just one. Not only do they take over your home, they steal your heart as well. Owning PBGVs has enriched my life in so many ways. There are lessons to be learned in observing their behavior. I’ve observed that they live and love life in the moment. PBGVs are selfless and unwaveringly loyal. They are the happy little hound, they love abun- dantly and unconditionally. It is easy to laugh around a PBGV. And, yes, some- times they can get in trouble, but they charm themselves out of it. They are great at reading moods, sensing when and how to console their humans, and sometimes know simply to just be there. Having done nursing home vis- its with my PBGV, it was wonderful to see how they lifted spirits simply by walking down a hallway wagging their tails and smiling, or visiting a patient’s room. Somehow, they intuitively sought out and approached those most in need of comfort. Life with PBGVs has opened the doorway to many new adventures.
I’d never heard of dog shows until I got my first PBGV, and I’ve been to many a show since then. It has led to travel to new cities, participation in shows and events, meeting and making new and lifelong friends, involvement on the BOD of the parent club, and working as rescue coordinator for my region. PBGVs add color to life, like flowers to a garden. MEGAN ESHERICK ON PBGV AND AGILITY Agility is an active sport where you guide your PBGV through an obstacle course consisting of jumps, weave poles, tunnels and contact obstacles. Agility is a timed event and dogs are expected to perform courses at a high rate of speed. If you are selecting a puppy or young adult dog with agility in mind, look for a very social puppy who prefers to be with people above anything else. Confidence is important, but you don’t want a puppy to be so independent that he often takes off on his own. An agility dog needs to have excellent structure to hold up to the demands of the sport. Even if you do not plan to breed your PBGV, there is a great deal of evidence indicating that spaying or neu- tering before puberty can have negative health effects, especially for canine ath- letes, so you may want to delay this pro- cedure until your dog is fully mature. In AKC agility, a shoulder height of fourteen inches is the cut off between jump heights. As this is the middle of our breed standard for height, a breed- er will not be able to guarantee that a puppy will mature into a certain agil- ity height class. If you are selecting an adult dog for agility, it would be a com- petitive advantage to choose a PBGV who is less than fourteen inches tall. As a team sport, agility requires good communication between dog and han- dler. Prior obedience training and off leash reliability are necessary for suc- cessful agility training. Prior to begin- ning your PBGV’s agility training, you will need to do some basic obedience training. An off leash recall and a sit or down stay are especially important. Agility is a physically demanding sport for dogs. Repeated jumping and climbing are a part of the sport, as well as negotiating tight turns at a high rate of speed. Prior to beginning train- ing for agility, your PBGV should be in
excellent physical condition. Extra weight will make agility more diffi- cult for your dog and can put him at increased risk for injury. In fact, most agility PBGVs are kept at a weight about five pounds lighter than would normally be considered ideal weight for the show ring. Agility should not be your PBGV’s primary source of exercise. A regular routine of cross training with activities such as long walks, swimming, balance ball exercises and playing with other dogs will help your PBGV to build the strength and endurance he needs to compete successfully. Agility is an all–breed sport, but the herding breeds tend to predominate at many trials. Finding an instructor who is experienced with scent hounds and the challenges specific to our breed may be a challenge. A good instructor has experience with a variety of dogs and enough training experience to real- ize that there is often more than one way to accomplish a goal. Handling is an important facet of agility. You will need as much or more training than your dog. An instructor who has experience running smaller dogs may be in a bet- ter position to teach the handling skills that you will need with your PBGV. When selecting an agility class, you will want to consider the quality and maintenance of the equipment used. If you intend to compete, you will want to train on equipment suitable for use in competition. Even if you are taking agil- ity classes for fun, you don’t want to risk having your dog injured or frightened by accidents caused by poor quality equipment. Because agility is an off lead sport, you will probably want to find a class that is held indoors or in a fenced area so you can focus on learning and not worry about your dog picking up a scent and taking off. The running sur- face may be grass, dirt, artificial turf or thick matting but should be comfort- able for you and your dog to walk and run on. Because the learning style and degree of motivation of a PBGV is dif- ferent than the more “typical” agility dog, finding a good group class may be a challenge. Sometimes private les- sons can be a better use of time because you have the option of working at your dog’s pace and focusing on the issues that you and your dog are facing as a team. The cost of private lessons can be a downside, but if you have access
290 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2017
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