NIC math instructor trains, shows dogs in agility competitions

One would never know it judging by their modest lifestyle, but the Davis family shares its home with celebrities.
Three national champions, two-time world silver medalists and international competitors well known for their performance, attractiveness and fitness level.
But North Idaho College Math Instructor Barbara Davis doesn’t live among the ranks of professional athletes or Olympic competitors, she breeds, trains and competes with dogs in national and international dog agility competitions.
“I’ve been showing dogs for about 35 years,” Davis said. “This is a huge part of my life.”
|photo1|Davis’ family life centers around the relatively new sport of dog agility, which entails obstacle courses of jumps, ramps, tunnels and chutes that the dogs must complete error free and in the fastest time under the command of their trainers.
Davis owns six dogs, shelties P.J., Pistol, Aspen, Shimmer and Rock-It and a border collie named Zest, all of which have competed in regional trials and national dog agility competitions with Davis. Rock-It is the youngest at 2.5 years old and his father Shimmer, is the oldest at 10.5 years.
“What I enjoy the most is how much dogs love it,” Davis said. “They begin to know it and expect it and actually get upset when you’re not working with them.”
Shimmer won the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) National Championships in 1999 and has been on the USA Agility World Team five times, bringing home two team silver medals and eighth place in the individual competition.
P.J. won the USDAA Championships in 2002 and now young Rock-It has made his presence known.
|photo2|Recently at the American Kennel Club’s National Agility Championship in Tampa, Fla., the winning tradition continued. Davis was the only competitor to have three of her dogs make it into the finals. Shimmer placed eighth and P.J. placed sixth in the 16-inch jumping division. Young Rock-It won the 12-inch division, becoming a national champion.
“I was thrilled,” Davis said. “To have already become a national champion at such a young age is very unusual. But I wasn’t surprised. He is a high-energy, highly-focused dog and he was just running superb all weekend. I was so proud that he held it all together for that last important final run. TV crews, bright lights and stands packed with fans create a lot of pressure for both myself and my dog. But we both stayed focused and put down a winning run. It was just great.”
Dog agility is a family affair for the Davis’. When not competing in trials for various competitions throughout the nation, Davis is teaching dog agility throughout the northwest or supporting her husband Jeff’s side business venture of building dog agility equipment.
“The dogs are like our kids,” Davis said, adding that the training and competing element of dog agility creates a relationship between dog and trainer that isn’t found with ordinary pets and owners. “Training and competing forges a special bond between dog and trainer and I cherish that.
“I’m very proud of my dogs,” Davis added. “The funny thing is that they start to develop an aura about them that shows that they know they are champions. They begin to get a little cocky, but it’s all a part of the competitor in the dog.”
The American Kennel Club National Agility Championships in which Davis had three dogs make it to the finals will air at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Sunday, Feb. 12 on Animal Planet. The show may air at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. locally, so check local listings.

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NIC Math Instructor Barb Davis, (208) 676-2018

Posted: Monday, Feb. 6, 2006

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