Move more - with jumps!
“Agility is my version of going to the gym,” says Janey Wilcox, administrative assistant, Yerkes Field Station, and a member of the Emory community for the past 30 years.
While you don’t get seven human steps for every dog step, many dog owners can attest to the benefits – physical and mental – that come from having your canine companion serve as your workout buddy in the Move More Challenge. Dog-lover Janey Wilcox cranks those benefits up a notch – and gets just a little bit competitive.
Janey Wilcox is an energetic, cheerful long-time member of the Yerkes team – not the type of person you’d immediately peg for a fierce competitor. That all changed in1998 when she adopted JoJo, a bouncy and stubborn stray Corgi. In 2001, her sister, who also had adopted a high-energy stray, suggested enrolling the dogs in some agility classes to help burn off some of that energy. What started as a fluke turned into a life-long passion.
After a little research, the two sisters found a training facility nearby and once a week, they started taking classes. Now, nearly 15 years later, Janey trains with Lab-mix Angie and a new Corgi named Heidi. And, while the dogs are the ones racing through the tunnels or scurrying up the balance beams or ramps, Janey and her fellow handlers sprint alongside, keeping steps ahead of the dogs to instruct them and motion them to the next obstacle on the course.
“When the dogs compete in two- or three-day agility trials, I average 14,000 or more steps, over 2000 calories and 5 or more miles,” says Janey. “The most I remember in one day was nearly 20,000 steps, at least 2500 calories, and 8 or 9 miles.”
Agility training – and the Move More Challenge – have inspired Janey to make healthy changes to her lifestyle and re-think her approach to fitness. Going to the gym never had much appeal to her, but she did become more conscious of increasing her own fitness levels in order to best support her dogs in competition. As part of her journey, she’s had to research the best shoes to allow for sprinting, foot stability and the ability to pivot on the course and make sure she stays hydrated in the heat. When the Move More Challenge came along, it opened her eyes to how many steps she was completing without even realizing it and inspired her to find additional ways to increase her step count – such as training and walking the dogs separately.
All that hard work has paid off. On October 11, 2016, Janey and Heidi won second place in the Novice A level of the 11th Rally Trial of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America – a part of the American Kennel Club. She was stunned at achieving that level of recognition as a novice/beginner. But, the true reward comes from the time spent with her dogs and how it makes her feel.
“I know it can be either hot or cold and always dirty, but it is so much fun for me and for the dogs,” she says. “It helps all three of us in both physical and mental health.”