By day, Debra Sweat is part of Valley’s Health Information Management team. But when she is off the clock, Debra’s teammates are of the four-legged variety. Fifteen years ago, Debra got in to the sport of dog agility with her Papillon Karmon who became an agility champion at the age of 10.
“Papillons are very smart and athletic dogs in a small body, sometimes called small border collies,” Debra shares.
Agility competitions feature obstacle courses navigated by dogs and their handlers while racing the clock. “They say agility is 80 percent handler and 20 percent dog. You need to be able to direct your dog on a course they have never seen. The handler gets to walk it for eight minutes and memorize it,” Debra explains.
There are multiple agility venues throughout the United States. Debra and her Papillons have been to the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) Championship three times, and have performed in the Papillon Nationals and the Teacup Nationals.
While sadly, Debra has lost two of her pups, Karmon and Hera, she now has Xena who just turned one and has begun her agility training. Xena’s trainer is an agility world team member who has been to the AKC Nationals and the Westminster Dog Show. Debra is hoping to get Xena in to the UKC Championship next month in Longview, Wash., and Xena is entered in to her first agility competition which will take place in December. Good luck to Debra and Xena as they continue their training and begin to compete!