At the age of 51, Petra Lavin decided to take on a new hobby: agility. Not only that, but she also started to study the sport online, without a local coach, carefully learning agility handling mechanics with the help of OneMind Dogs.
Cuddles on the couch, having fun and performing to the best of their ability as a team are all important aspects of Petra’s relationship with her Poodle, Billy. OneMind Dogs Coach Niki Drage interviewed Petra as she felt a strong connection with her training journey. Both Petra and Niki completed the majority of their agility training online with OneMind Dogs. Petra just recently participated in her first ever live training event and flew to Finland for that.
N: Tell us a little about yourself and your dog? How did you first meet?
P: I got Billy when he was 19 months young, he is 3.1 years now. I didn’t plan to get a dog, and I had never owned a dog before, but his owner didn’t have much time for him and I fell in love.
N: What made you interested in agility?
P: Billy is my first dog, so I thought it would be a good idea to meet up with other dog “lovers”. When I found some people to meet up with, I actually had no idea that they had an agility field until I saw it - I was hooked right from the start.
N: What attracted you to OneMind Dogs?
P: I live on an Island that doesn’t have many coaching opportunities, so I train alone. Everything I have learned is through online training. I have done several different online courses. However, many of those classes are for beginner dogs, not beginner handlers. As I had never taken agility lessons when I started, I struggled with the handling mechanics.
OneMind Dogs is the place where I can get clear, precise information on handling techniques and understand the rationale behind using certain moves. If something is not working so well, I always go back and watch the handling technique videos again. It really helps to refresh my memory and when I watch the mistakes section they are often the same as the ones I make myself. At the moment I love the proofing and troubleshooting sections.
N: If you could describe your agility journey in one word, what would it be?
N: What has been your favorite lightbulb moment in your training so far?
P: There are actually two! Both occurred during my first live training session with OneMind Dogs - International Training Week in 2019. There was one conversation I had with Jaakko where he said “Petra take DOWN your energy but at the same time keep Billy’s energy up and focus on what he actually enjoys. I also honestly think you use verbals so much (in in, back back, check check etc etc ) because your handling isn’t solid enough – you are lucky that you have a dog who is such a good listener. It’s good to talk to him but use it instead to reward and motivate him whilst running. Cheer him on, tell him he is doing alright, make him happy and proud.” It made all the difference!!
The second moment was the last training session on visualisation with Janita. That run was the best I have ever felt - a true lightbulb moment.
N: What are your goals for the future with Billy?
P: To have fun and to perform at my own and Billy’s highest level possible as a team.
N: What is your favourite thing to do with Billy, outside of agility?
P: Cuddle on the couch.
N: Anything else you would like to mention?
P: I just came back from International Training Week in Finland. On all levels, it was an amazing week, we learned so much in just one week. With the most inspiring group of people!! I just can’t wait to come back. Oh and I started training agility at 51 years of age… it is never too late to start!