GJ woman’s Corgis both win national agility titles
Pamela Wiltgen has a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Diablo Harley Boy (aka Harley), who is, shall we say, active. A bit mischievous, too.
“He gets to be a little bit of a character,” Wiltgen said. “He’s seven. Imagine him at two. We needed to find something for him to do. He needed a job. I just got into agility for some fun exercise.”
Five years later, Harley proved he’s taken to being an agility dog quite well.
So has Jo Dee, Wiltgen’s 2-year-old Corgi.
Both dogs won their respective divisions in the Dogs On Course in North America national championships last month in Prescott, Ariz.
Not only did they win, they swept the competition as fast as their little legs could take them.
DOCNA has 11 different events, with the competition spread over three days. Divisions are determined by jump height — Jo Dee is in the 4-inch division, Harley in the 8-inch division.
“It was an amazing weekend,” Wiltgen said. “They both showed 11 times each. It was a pretty awesome Friday when we ended up first in each one of the classes, all first place.”
With a cumulative score used for the overall championship, Wiltgen knew she and the dogs needed a good showing again Saturday.
Four more events each, four more wins each. Their success continued Sunday. Eleven events each, 11 wins each.
“It was just unbelievable,” she said. “It’s something that is not done.”
On Sunday, the top dogs in the West show have a runoff against the best in the East, simulcast on the Internet.
Harley and Jo Dee won again.
“She’s the fastest 4-inch Corgi in the United States and he’s the baddest 8-inch Corgi in the United States,” Wiltgen says, laughing and hugging her dogs, who in turn, slobber in her ear.
Wiltgen trained both dogs and she shows both dogs — and is in the process of training another Corgi, Buster, which she adopted while at a show in Utah.
“The people at the Corgi rescue in Salt Lake thought I needed that dog,” she said. “I told them Saturday I did not need that dog and Sunday morning I told them I did not need another dog.
However, I sent a picture of the dog to my husband and my husband said I needed that dog.”
So she got the dog.
Buster had a show in September that, well, didn’t go quite as smoothly as Harley’s and Jo Dee’s event in October.
“He will embarrass you at a show over a tunnel,” she said. “He went through every tunnel five times.
The judge asked me, because I was disqualified, ‘You want to get your dog?’
“I just sat down in front of a tunnel and told (the judge), ‘he’ll be here in about three seconds,’ and he came runnin’ over.”
The elements to an event differ. One event is all jumps, another is run on a course determined by the handler and yet another requires the dog to complete a course in a specified amount of time, with penalties for finishing early or late.
There are jumps, weave poles, tunnels, see-saws and contact obstacles, requiring the dog to scale up and down an A-frame or run across a raised platform.
The dog must make sure at least one paw makes contact with a specified area of the obstacle.
Wiltgen trains her dogs to place all four paws on the “contact area,” just to make sure there are no mistakes.
She works her dogs daily, but in short stints.
“It takes five minutes three times a day,” she said. “You can do dog agility training on your daily walks. I use a staircase at a school. You walk down and have them do a sit on the bottom. I don’t run them on the equipment a lot.
“Now that they’re fully trained, I use it for my handling, more for my exercise than theirs. He knows his job.”
Wiltgen will set up a variety of obstacles and with a series of voice commands and hand signals, puts her dogs through their paces.
They go over jumps, clamber up and down a see-saw, jump through a tire, scramble up a sloped incline and across a raised platform, run through a cloth tunnel and then through the weave poles as she calls “get it, get it, get it” as Jo Dee or Harley weave their way through the gates and on to the A frame, panting — and grinning — all the way.
At the end, Jo Dee gets a treat, Harley races to grab his favorite toy.
Wiltgen started the dogs with basic obedience commands: Sit, stay, leave it. They learn jumps with clicker training: Complete a command, get a treat. Then it’s on to the tunnels, which are usually fairly easy to master.
The see-saw is taught by getting them to walk on a plank on the ground. Then the plank is placed on a 4x4 to get them used to the tilt.
The dogs’ finish at DOCNA has given Wiltgen the credentials to conduct agility seminars, and she gives lessons.
And now that she’s got the speediest little Corgis in the U.S., what’s next?
“I want to go after the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge,” she said. “I want to do seminars, get a Web site up and travel across the United States and help people play with their dogs like I do.”