There’s really only one way to describe what it’s like to keep up with Tachyon, a nearly 5-year-old Border Collie in Crystal Lake.
“It’s ya-hoo! Full speed ahead,” said Nanci Tayler, the dog’s proud owner and trainer.
“He’s a riot. This guy would go, go, go. He would do anything for me. He’s so sweet.”
What he’s done for Tayler is give her a first-ever trip to the American Kennel Club National Agility Championship, taking place in Harrisburg, Penn, with a record number of competitors.
The duo will compete March 27-30 with the best dogs in the nation for agility and obediance.
With the dogs dvided into height classes, Tachyon will take on 480, 20-inch-tall dogs like him.
A win would make Tachyon the AKC National Agility Champion, and he’d advance to an international competition.
“We’re running with the big dogs,” Tayler said. “It’s kind of fun to step up to the plate and see how my dog measures up.”
She and Tachyon will compete against trainers who’ve taken dogs to international competitions, as well as those who’ve written books and created DVDs on the topic.
Tachyon, whom she purchased from a breeder in Dallas when he was 8 weeks old, is her third agility dog, but the first to advance to nationals.
He’s also a member of Centegra Health System’s “Caring Paws” animal assisted therapy corps. For the past four years, he’s visited patients at Centegra’s Sage Cancer Center, where Tayler said he’s become a favorite.
He’s almost two different dogs, she said, the speedy athlete and the gentle therapy dog.
She has spent summers training him at a friend’s horse pasture with obstacles, such as a seesaw, tunnels, weave poles, jumps and a dog walk.
The dogs must work on consistency, precision, and, of course, timing.
“It’s all about speed,” Tayler said. “Each dog gets a little easier to train, a little faster, and you get better as a handler.”
A former triathlon competitor, Tayler turned to dog training after having orthopedic surgery and becoming unable to compete herself.
She since has become immersed in Chicago’s “hotbed of agility,” as she puts it, where competitors take part in numerous trials a year.
“It’s fun,” she said, adding that the competitors of all ages and from a wide variety of backgrounds get to know one another. “It’s gotten to be a really popular sport.”
Tachyon advanced based upon the points he compiled through numerous trials. The faster he runs the course, the more points he gets. Any missed obstacles or other mistakes result in faults deducted from his score.
“He’s a sports car, and I have to handle him really well so there are no wide turns,” Tayler said.
“This guy, he’s just a bonafide athlete.”