Tracy Beck, of Elkhorn, and her dog, Amber, share a quite moment. Beck rescued Amber and started agility training to give the dog a “job” to keep her busy.

Amber shows off her 2019 Master Agility Champion title award from the American Kennel Club.

Area woman and rescue dog show amazing agility

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

When Tracy Beck was looking to adopt a rescue dog a few years back, she had a vision of what she wanted.

“I had lost another rescue dog and was looking to replace it,” she recalled. “We saw Amber at a rescue in Huntley, Illinois, but I was looking for a bigger dog for the farm, but my husband really liked the look of her so we went to check her out.”

The couple drove down to Illinois from their Elkhorn farm to meet Amber.

“I wasn’t sure,” Beck said. “She was way too small and I wanted a big farm dog. But he was adamant on her and said a dog didn’t need to be big to bark if something was wrong on the farm, which was what we wanted.”

So, they brought Amber home.

“And, boy, did she have a lot of energy,” Beck said. “I mean a lot. She was rearranging the furniture all over the house!”

Beck said she knew they were going to have to find a way to harness that energy and a friend told her the dog needed a job.

“She needed something to drain her mind and her body,” Beck said. “You could run her all day but she needed mental stimulation as well.”

Beck’s friend suggested agility training and she figured it was worth a try and signed up for a class.

“She just loved it and caught on really fast,” she said. “I started to like it, too.”

Amber competes in agility training. The rescue dog has excelled in the dog sport.

Competing begins

After Beck and Amber graduated from the basic agility class, they began to look at what it might take to enter the competition ring.

“A friend showed me the ins and outs to get involved in the competitions and we started training on a more serious level,” Beck said. “Amber was just a natural. She’s very fast and very competitive. It’s the perfect combination.”

Amber is an Australian Cattle Dog mixed breed, which doesn’t impede her ability to compete.

“They have categories for mixed breeds at all the competitions, so that’s not a problem. A lot of people don’t realize that you don’t have to spend thousands on pure-bred dogs to do this. Rescue dogs have so much to offer,” Beck said.

Amber, who is about 6 years old now, and Beck have been competing for about 4 years and winning multiple awards along the way.

“She has her MACH, the Master Agility Championship title from the American Kennel Club, which she won this year,” Beck said. “Her first big title was the CATCH, it’s the CPE Agility Trial Champion title. She’s won hundreds of ribbons too.”

Beck said Amber loves the spotlight and competition setting.

“She’s a spitfire,” she said with a laugh. “She’s just a very playful, happy go getter. She likes to play all the time and loves all kinds of toys. Everything is a game to her and she loves games.”

Amber also has a soft side, Beck said.

“She’s just a love bug and thinks she’s a lapdog, even though she’s 38 pounds,” Beck said. “She’s got the cutest little wiggle butt, it’s probably the reason we got her, it was so cute.”

Rescuing more

Beck said rescuing animals is something that’s very close to her heart.

“We just rescued another dog three months ago,” she said. “His name is Titus and he’s about a year and a half old. He’s a great addition to our family.”

Beck said if there was one thing she wanted people to know, it was that rescue dogs can do everything pure-bred dogs can do.

“You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on a dog like that when there are so many looking for homes,” she said. “And these dogs have just as much potential to succeed in dog sports, if that’s what you’re interested in.”

She added that the experience for the dog owner in agility training is just as beneficial as it is to the dog.

“It’s great exercise and it’s just such a great way to spend time with your dog,” she said. “It’s also a great for kids and dogs to bond and spend time together. They can just take a class and see how much fun it is.”

Beck recommended anyone interested in taking up the sport of dog agility training should start with a beginners class.

“There’s a few local places to do that,” she said. “There’s Think Positive in Waukesha, and For Pet’s Sake in Mukwonago, and Wag Agility in Spring Grove, Illinois, for people a little further south. They are all great places to start.”

As for Beck and Amber, they’re headed into a new competition season.

“We qualified for the national AKC competitions in Georgia and Amber was ranked 13th in the national dog agility mixed breed, or All American, category at the AKC,” Beck said. “We’ll be busy.”



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