Only 19 young dog agility teams were chosen to represent the USA in the 2019 FCI European Open Junior event July 12-14 in Switzerland. Middleton natives Finley and Shawna Richgels and their pup Charisma stopped by the studio to show us several tricks before they left to compete.
Finley and Shawna said this competition is similar to the Olympics, but for dog agility teams. The preparations leading up to competition include a training schedule that requires practice almost every day.
“We make sure to practice almost daily,” Finley said. “But we want to taper back when it comes closer to competition time so she can stay healthy and active.”
Finley and Shawna said Charisma’s body is just like a human athlete. The family owns Canine Sports Zone, a training facility in Middleton, where they offer agility and flyball classes.
“We have students everywhere from younger than Finley, who is 15, all the way to 96 [years old],” Shawna said. “So we have every range of person, ages and dogs. Some of them never want to compete, and some of them are very interested in doing the highest levels of competition. It’s enjoyable for everyone.”