In just a few months, a spunky Australian shepherd will have a permanent place to practice her agility skills.
Thornapple Kiss Me Nellie, called Nell for short, has accumulated thousands of ribbons in six years and is a nationally ranked Australian shepherd in the agility arena.
"She's my sweetheart," said Nell's owner and trainer, Jenny Addie. "She's a good girl."
Addie felt it was time to construct a full-competition agility course. She said it will be the first of its kind in the Augusta area, with the nearest course in Aiken.
"We all need somewhere to go, which is basically the whole issue," said the Martinez resident. "None of us had anywhere where everything was set up and we could all come and go."
In the past, Addie said she would train Nell by setting up obstacles in the park or using her friend's backyard. Now, the future park at 4108 Colben Boulevard in Evans will be just minutes away from her home.
In about a year, the 7-year-old shepherd will retire and pursue training in tracking objects by scent.
Addie will still need the course, however, when she starts training her 8-month-old puppy named Thornapple Stardust.
"I just decided now's the time to do it, because with the new puppy, I really need a place to put out my equipment," she said.
After the 1.5-acre property is fenced and secured, Addie will begin moving equipment, worth thousands of dollars, for the 18-obstacle course to the site.
The obstacles include several jumps, weave poles, two tunnels, a dogwalk and teeter in addition to an A-frame, two steep ramps hinged together.
Addie hopes to open the facility by spring of 2010. The park won't just be limited to agility training, she said. Addie also plans to offer obedience courses and rally seminars for dogs and their owners.
She also wants to incorporate a park-like feel by adding a cottage, tables and benches and garden fixtures to the property.
"It'll totally be dog-friendly and dog-secure," she said. "It'll be lovely.
After starting the facility, Addie said some in the area might be encouraged to start training their canines.
"People haven't had a facility to even start or get the feel of it," she said. "It's astounding there's only three of us that do agility in Augusta."
Video: Watch Jenny Addie and Nell in action on a training course.
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