Sixteen-year-old Karrigan Hart’s life is going to the dogs, quite literally.
Hart, who has been competing in agility trials with her two-year-old Yorkshire Terrier named London since last fall, is currently ranked as the number one AKC junior handler in the state of Illinois and ranks among the top ten nationwide.
“I just love it,” she said. “I just love that it’s something you get to do with your dog and you don’t have to worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s really fun.”
The daughter of Dr. Kai and Brad Hart of Hillsboro, Karrigan said she’s always wanted to have her own dog, although her family has two other dogs, another Yorkshire Terrier named Twinklet and a German Shepherd named Macy.
“Twinklet was definitely my mom’s dog,” Hart said. “She always sits in her lap, and I had been wanting my own dog.”
Initially, Hart had no plans of competing with her dog, but the pair have fallen in love with it in the past year.
“I got her as another pet,” Hart said. “I have always wanted to go to London, and I just love British accents. So, I named her London.”
In December of 2018, Hart and her mother attended dog trials with her great-aunt Sally, and Karrigan was hooked.
“It was just amazing to see the little dogs do the agility trials,” she said. “And I wanted to do it with London.”
In February 2019, Hart took London to obedience classes at Triune Canine Training in Wood River for one hour each week.
At the end of August, the duo competed in their very first trial. Hart said London completed all the obstacles, but didn’t qualify from that trial.
“But she did really good,” Hart said.
Hart and London would quickly move through the ranks from novice to excellent in trials throughout the months of November and December 2019. By January of this year, they got into the masters program, and Hart said they are working to earn PACH (Prefered Agility Championship) status.
The pair have competed in 14 trials since August 2019, and Hart said they attend as many as they can in the area. They have also qualified for the national competition next March in Tulsa, OK, and Hart hopes the show will go on.
The ongoing pandemic has changed some of the trials slightly, as competitors have to wear masks and leave directly after competition, but Hart is just glad to be able to still compete with London.
She and London practice about an hour a day, learning a variety of new tricks, and she even built a mini agility course in the family basement. Her favorite thing is to teach London to do new tricks.
In addition to her status in agility, London is also becoming a bit of a star, working with the Got Petential talent agency, based in St. Louis, MO.
Hart learned about the company through trainers at Triune Canine Training. She created an online profile for London on May 31 and was asked about booking four jobs the very next day. She would eventually book two of them that were shot in St. Louis.
“It was a blast,” she said. “I can’t share the brands yet, but it was a great experience.”
When they aren’t training or on photo shoots, London and Hart like to go shopping with Hart’s mom to pet friendly stores like T.J. Maxx and Homegoods.
Not much of a snuggler, London prefers keeping busy with Hart, although she does have her own pillow on Hart’s bed.
“I’d rather be teaching her new tricks than snuggling,” Hart said.