Competing with Coco by V.M. Burns

One of the hobbies I enjoyed when I was younger (and smaller) included competing with my dogs in dog sports. My first poodle, Coco, was an energetic ball of energy. When I got home from work, I used to take her to the park and remove her leash so she could run in circles to take the edge off. Even with thirty minutes of running, I still had to devise other ways to try and tire her out (a tired poodle can’t get into mischief…well, not much anyway). Poodles are retrievers and one of Coco’s favorite games was fetch. After her thirty minute romp at the park, I would toss a stuffed animal down a flight of stairs for her to retrieve. We did this again, and again, and again.

When she was old enough, I took her to puppy kindergarten. In addition to basic training, my instructor introduced us to dog performance events like obedience and agility, and Echo Dog Club. Competition obedience involves taking your dog through a serious of exercises which demonstrate your dog’s ability to follow a set of commands. Gaining qualifying scores earned titles for your dog. Some of the possible titles include Companion Dog (CD), Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), Utility Dog (UD) and Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) and Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH).

Once Coco had a few basic obedience commands under her belt, we moved on to agility. Agility involves taking your dog through a serious of obstacles. These include things like jumps, tunnels, and a dog walk (an apparatus that resembles a gymnastic balance beam). Successfully qualifying earned titles which included Novice Agility (NA), Open Agility (OA), Open Agility Jumpers (OAJ), Agility Excellent (AX), Master Agility (MA), Master Agility Champion (MACH).

Coco and I competed in both the United Kennel Club (UKC) and American Kennel Club (AKC) performance events. We were never destined for greatness, but the fun was in learning and working together which deepened our bond. I have a lot of great (and somewhat humiliating) memories of our adventures and I met some truly wonderful people along the way. How’d we do?


A killer wants Lilly Echosby to roll over and play dead . . .

Lilly may be losing a husband but she’s gaining a toy poodle. That could be seen as a win-win, since her new adopted pooch Aggie (named after Agatha Christie) is cute and adorable, and Lilly’s dirty dog of a spouse is cheating on her with a blond bimbo—except for one problem: Albert Echosby’s just been murdered, and Lilly is the number-one suspect.

With the cops barking up the wrong tree, it’s a good thing her best friend Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson from Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided to take a break from the dog club circuit to pay a visit, along with her own prize pair of poodles. With help from Dixie, her defense attorney daughter, and a blue-eyed man in blue with a K-9 partner, Lilly is determined to collar the real killer. But when a second murder occurs, it’s clear they’re dealing with one sick puppy . . .