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Agility and especially Boxer Agility in Finland 
by Riitta Laitinen and MelliMelli enjoying weaving

I have a great pleasure to tell you something about agility and especially Boxer agility in Finland, while my own boxer Melli is sleeping on my sofa tired and happy after the agility competitions. 

Agility training started in Finland in Scandinavia in the middle of 1980s. First time when I saw agility was in the Helsinki International Horse Show 1985, where a couple of dogs were showing some interesting things with different obstacles. That time I didn’t have my own dog, but I already decided, that in the day I would have one, this would be our hobby. 

Now, about 15 years later, agility is very popular dog sport in Finland. All of the clubs belong to the Finnish Kennel Club, which is coordinating the competitions and training the coaches. We have about 4000 actively competing pairs and a lot of different kind of dogs. The Finnish mini dogs are in this moment on the top of the world. During the last two years the winner in World Championships has been a Finnish pair. Also the team of mini dogs has been very successful. In the group of standard dogs the success has not been as good as in the mini class, but positions in the group of world’s 10 best standards have been seen. In this year 2000, we are very proud to have a possibility to organize the Agility World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Today we know already that 28 teams from different countries are taking part in this agility happening this year. 

Melli on the AFrameAs I mentioned earlier, numerous dog breeds take part to the competitions in Finland. In standard class in addition of very popular Belgian Tervueren and Malinois, Border Collies, Collies, Bearded Collies, Pumis and so on, also some Boxers are actively training and competing throughout the year. During the summer 2000 about 15 Boxers with their trainers actively took part to the agility competitions. Boxers are not very popular agility dogs, because usually people think that a Boxer is quite a difficult to teach and that it isn’t fast enough. That was partly true earlier in the group of agility dogs in Finland, but nowadays we have quite a many promising young Boxers, which also have enough energy to this hobby. Every summer a nice competition where different dog breeds are competing as teams against each other is organised. In this summer there were about 140 teams and two of them were Boxer teams. The best Boxer team was in the position of 16 in this big group of teams. We think that it was quite nice result for our young team. 

My own boxer ‘Melli’ is now five years old. We have had many difficult moments during our agility career, which we started three years ago, but today things goes quite smoothly. We compete in the class 3, which in Finland means that you are in the most difficult stage in agility competitions. All championships are held in this stage. This year we didn’t had enough clear runs that we could have taken part to the Finnish Championships, but the years 2001 and 2002 will be our main targets. 

Now when the winter is coming again we are starting our training session in order to be ready when the important and interesting competitions start again in next spring. Agility training in Finland during the wintertime is not always so simple because of cold weather (even under -30 deg. Celsius) and a huge amount of snow. In our club, however, we are lucky while we have our own training hall. Even it is cold, it is always dry and the wind and snow stays out of the walls. 

Melli and I would like to wish to all Boxers and their trainers/owners very nice moments within agility training sessions and competitions. It is important always to keep in mind that agility should have fun for both the dog and trainer. 

With best regards

Riitta Laitinen and Boxer Melli 

Oulu, Finland

The beautiful Melli

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