Hendy Lund is Rio's person, and had this to say about agility and Rio in 1999:
Rio discovered agility at the age of six months, during the 1997 National Leonberger Speciality in Monterey, California. Bonnie and Norm Goodfriend hauled all their agility equipment and their many dogs up from Southern California and staged a demonstration. Words cannot describe how beautiful, how graceful, and how joyful Frieda Mae looked as she flew around the course. After the demonstration, Bonnie invited us to all try some of the equipment, namely the tunnels and jumps. We sent Rio through one tunnel, and that was it - he was hooked! For the rest of the day, anytime we wandered near the course, he'd start pulling us toward the equipment, wanting to go through the tunnel just one more time.
Rio discovers agility at the speciality - yes, that's him at both ends!!
We knew it would be at least nine months before we could start any official agility training with him - baby joints and limbs do not take well to the rigors of climbing up and down and jumping. So we took him for long walks and hikes to teach him where all his feet are (big dogs aren't always sure about those back feet), swam with him to build up his endurance, and let him play and jump and wrestle and run around with his doggy friends at the park. Finally, when he was 20 months old, a beginning agility class started in our area. We were the first ones there on class day!
Training Rio has been... interesting. I've learned a lot about my fuzzball. He's very smart, very fast, and absolutely fearless. These are great qualities for competition, but not always the best for learning. Imagine trying to catch a 110 lb. dog as he loses his balance on the dog walk. I'll say this for my boy, though - whenever he fell, he got right back up on the same piece of equipment with no problems. And he loves it. He tears around the course, flying over jumps, scrambling up the a-frame, even wiggling his way through those stupid weave poles (his words, not mine!). It's so much fun just to watch him, knowing he's having a good time.
We're just starting the intermediate class, which focuses on more complex sequences. That's what it says on paper. What it's really all about is training the handler - no one tells you when you start agility that the person is really the dumb one. I'm constantly amazed at how little attention Rio pays to my words and how much attention he pays to my body language when we're on the course. If I say "tunnel", but my body is pointed at a jump, he'll take the jump nine times out of ten. I'm having to learn a new language, and its hard! Teaching him the obstacles was the easy part.
I think my favorite part of agility is the time I'm spending with Rio. We're really learning to work together as a team, and I'm starting to understand how important that kind of working relationship is to Rio - and to me. I don't know if we'll ever be ready for competition, but I know we'll never stop doing agility together.