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Living For Friday

Kubota joins Stonepath’s ambassador family

Ever wonder what makes for a good agility dog? Is it any one thing, something like a high motor or the willingness to work with their handler?

What about speed or confidence? And being a social creature?

In some cases, athletes might use the fact they weren’t the first picked as motivation – and perhaps that’s the case with Kristine Kubota and her champion German Shorthair Pointer (GSP), Friday. To hear Kubota tell the story, she and Friday began their successful run together almost by accident.

Having been a part of the agility dog scene for a while, it started with her first GSP Jersey Girl, then with Siri (a border collie) but it was almost by chance that Kubota and Friday found each other.

“I knew Friday’s daddy through another dog sport (flyball) … Buzz was a big, handsome German Shorthair Pointer who had a great work ethic in many different disciplines and a wonderful disposition. I was determined to have one more GSP, and it would have to be a Buzz puppy,” she said. “Buzz was bred to a beautiful female named Nexus who reminded me very much of Jersey, and she had many field titles, too. I saw some of the puppies from the first litter, and when I found out they were going to repeat the breeding I was interested. I found out it was to be Buzz’s last litter, so even though I wasn’t planning on another dog, I just had to listen to my gut instinct. Friday actually wasn’t my first female pick of the litter – she was independent and really just wanted to be the boss of everyone – she was always the one causing trouble and being the troublemaker. But then as I went to visit the litter more, it was evident she was a keeper.”

Everyone loves Fridays, but Kubota knew she was the one after a little more time spent with the pups. Being both toy and food motivated, it took a little work for Friday to prove to Kubota she was the one for her. One situation in particular helped her make the choice.

“I had originally picked out another female and was holding her walking around, happy with my decision. All of the puppies were back behind the fence, so the breeder let out two of the adults who ran barking at the pheasant barn – the female I was holding didn’t like the commotion and was panicking a bit in my arms,” she said. “I put her down to see her reaction on the ground, and she just came to me and hid between my legs. While some pet owners might like that, I didn’t. I show my dogs in environments that are loud with crowds cheering and just different all the time. So I looked over at the other puppies behind the fence, and there was Friday … her tail was up, confident and watching the adults as they were barking and causing commotion. She was independent, yes, but also very willing to be around people and want to interact. For me, confidence is bred into the dog, and I can work on everything else I need to. I wanted a dog to be so confident on equipment and different surfaces and ready to try anything new – that sure was Friday. When it came time to decide, it was her – just a no-brainer decision.”

After that, the work began. Kubota said that knowing your dog and knowing how to prepare them properly is the crux of being successful in agility. Lots of people think their dog can just do it, but that’s simply not the case. Foundational training is a long road, and that leads to the final product we all see when the paws hit the turf during competition. Things like body awareness, coordination and muscle memory all play into it, and Kubota says dogs will go nowhere in the sport without them.

“Without a strong foundation, it could lead to many other training issues – even injury,” she said. “It’s crucial to have the skills and control needed to be healthy and competitive in the ring.”

That’s not an unfamiliar concept for Kristine, since she has a background in equestrian sports. She had no idea dog agility was such a big thing until she and Jersey took their first classes at McCann Professional Dog Trainers. Basic puppy classes led to multiple levels of obedience work and agility after that… after that, there was no turning back.

“It’s very similar to the hunter jumper world, so I guess you could say I already had some knowledge of courses and the concept of the sport,” she said. “Jersey and I both learned as we went, and you could say she was my guinea pig – in a border collie world, Jersey proved herself strong as a pointer. She wasn’t motivated to play at first, so I had to think outside the box in my training and learn to use what motivated her. Once I figured that out, our whole agility career took off. She soon loved the sport and went on to be a national champion and two-time regional champion.”

As years go by, some things change and Kubota has had to adapt – both to her new companions and to the altered landscape. The success remained a constant for her and her stable of canine champions, even with a few bumps in the road.

“Siri won a lot – she was Steeplechase champion at the Canada Cup, and along with Jersey she qualified for the 2015 Cynosport World Games in Tennessee where she eventually came in ninth,” Kubota proudly states. “It was bittersweet for me because it was my first major competition since having ACL surgery, which took about a year out of my agility career.”

Bumps in the road happen, and both Kubota and Siri have kept at it in different ways. A case of spondylosis sidelined Siri from high-level competitions, but Kubota still gets her out there and sees her love for the sport is still there. Both Siri and Friday were to compete in the AAC Regionals in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that for now. But being sidelined by a virus doesn’t mean the goals have changed.

“My main goal is to make a world team spot, and I was close to this goal with Siri but repeated injuries just prohibited us from reaching those goals,” she said. “For this year, I wanted to apply for the American Kennel Club Invitational in Florida, which requires Friday and I to earn a lot of Canadian Kennel Club titles – sadly, due to COVID-19, that goal will have to wait. But being able to train and have fun with our dogs and friends is really the main goal, and I look forward to being able to compete and go to events again soon.”

Hopefully, joining forces with Stonepath will help Kubota, Friday and the gang take another step towards those goals. As the brand’s newest ambassador, Kubota is looking forward to seeing Friday reap the benefits of her new Dual Luxe collar & matching Polished Pups leash – adorned with turquoise and hematite.

“I look forward to promoting the Stonepath product with the dog sport and horse show community. Our dogs deserve nothing but the best high-quality equipment for all they give to us! I really like the stone’s healing properties they offer Friday in helping her prep for the high-level competition. For her everyday life she not only looks good on walks but the stones help her both mentally and physically,” she said. “This is our first experience with healing stones, but I chose the Turquoise stone for Friday’s collar. It’s perfect for Friday’s overall individuality. I like that it’s a multi-purpose healer of the body and helps muscles, circulation, lungs and absorption of nutrients. Being an athlete it’s important to have re-generation of muscles and tissue development all while providing emotional well balance a clear mind.”

Keep up-to-date with how Kristine & Friday do on the Stonepath website and social media channels, and join Tracey and Matt in welcoming the newest members of the family!

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