Glenn Tiede and his dog Billy Bob — a seven-year-old Jack Russell terrier/border collie cross — are bound for Buckingham, England to compete at the World Agility Championships at the Addington Manor Equestrian Centre.
In agility competitions, a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for time and accuracy. Tiede, a Black Creek resident, and Billy Bob are the lone B.C. tandem among 19 teams representing Canada at the May 13 – 15 event. They will compete in the pentathlon, which consists of two agility runs, two jump/runs and speedstakes (jumps and tunnels).
“It’s been something I’ve been woking for for a while,” said Tiede, the manager at Black Creek Farm and Feed Supply who has been involved in the sport about 16 years. He teaches classes twice a week in Courtenay at Team Agility Group (TaG), which he owns and operates.
The Canadian agility team is picked by points accumulated throughout the previous year. The main event is the national agility championships. The Black Creed duo fared well last summer at nationals in Ontario, though Tiede sustained an injury during the three-day competition.
“The Friday, Saturday I was doing really good. I was basically in first place. Then on the Sunday, my first run I went to the first course and I blew my hamstring. So my weekend was done.”
He and Billy Bob were alternates for the national team, but they ended up making the squad when a woman dropped out.
“It’s like any sport, there are injuries that happen,” Tiede said. “There’s a lot of twisting and turning, and stop and go stuff. You see a lot of knee braces at times. The sport just keeps getting quicker and quicker. People push for that extra half-second here and there.”
Tiede discovered agility when he and his wife Debbie were first married. They had a dog — an energetic border collie/Australian cattle dog — and were looking for something to do. When they moved from the mainland to the Island, they happened upon Ian Pate, a Campbell River resident who was regarded as the founding father of agility on the North Island.
“It’s a growing sport,” said Tiede, recalling the popular dock diving event at the fall fair where he and Billy Bob used to compete. “It’s amazing how many people here in the Valley do it. There’s probably four or five different clubs that host classes in the area. There’s trials at least once a month.”
Billy Bob is well suited to the sport because he is fast and agile.
“He can turn real tight, but yet he still has flat-out speed.”
As opposed to displaying the classic terrier stubbornness, Billy Bob is more likely to turn to his master with a look that says, ‘Why didn’t you tell me to do this sooner?’
Billy Bob has a son, Bew Boo, who might someday be following in daddy’s pawsteps. Tiede’s son has started to run the dog.
“What I find the most is the dogs don’t come speaking English and we don’t come speaking Dog,” Tiede said, noting all kinds of dogs are suited to the sport. “It takes time and training to get the dog to understand our vocabulary. And for us to learn how to use our bodies to direct the dog. It’s a matter of both members of the team learning how to communicate with each other and understanding each other.”
He goes through a lot of dog treats in a session.
“I try to use a lot of toys just to keep it fun. You’re playing games — it doesn’t seem like work.”
Along with competing, Tiede is also an agility judge for different trials around Canada. He will be in Medicine Hat later in May.