Jenni Leino

I was born in 1975 and have been living in the Turku area most of my life. In 2007 I moved to Mustasaari which is located on the west coast of Finland.

I have been involved in dog sports ever since 1995 when I got my first dog Border Collie Sinna (Fin AgCh & ObCh Skydive Stair Step). Sinna's breeder Kaisa Honkonen introduced me to agility and I immediately fell in love with the sport even though I first thought I would never want to compete in it. In 1996 I met Janita.

She started a training group for a few Border Collie handlers (there were not too many of us back then) and Sinna & I got in. Janita taught me to see agility courses from the dog's perspective and was the person who got me more and more interested in understanding dogs' behaviour. Janita made me change the way I felt about competing and quite soon it was the only way to go.

Sinna and I started competing in agility in 1996 and were qualified to the Finnish Championships in the end of that year. Agility was always our main interest but we did many things together: obedience, search & rescue, flyball, water rescue etc. Sinna was not the easiest dog for a beginner and she taught me a lot about dog behaviour. Sinna received champion titles in both agility and obedience.

My second dog was Border Collie Spooky (Fin ObCh & ShCh Pikkupaimenen Twist'n Shout, born 1/1998). Spooky and I competed in agility, obedience and passed some tests in search & rescue. Spooky got the champion title in obedience.

In 1999 Janita and I travelled to Great Britain to visit some Border Collie breeders. I fell in love with a couple of dogs there and in 2000 I went to pick up my first male puppy, Border Collie Space (Fin AgCh JK1 BH PPR1 Laetare Bowler Jack). Space was very different from my previous dogs and taught me many new things. I got to try a couple of new sports with him, tracking and herding sheep. Space became a Finnish Agility Champion and competed in the highest class in obedience. He also passed herding tests both in Finland and in Germany.

My next dog was of my own breeding, a daughter of Spooky and Space, called Konna (Fin AgCh & Jumping Ch BH Eyewitness Perfect Crime). Konna is the first of my agility dogs with whom I started to find a balance to my handling and was able to increase the percentage of clean runs in competitions. Konna is a Finnish Agility and Jumping champion. She has won the district championship three times and we were on a team that was placed 3rd in the Finnish Championships in 2010. Konna has also been competing in the highest class in obedience.

In 2007 I got my next dog from my breeder friend Marie Jordan in Great Britain. Loox (Fin AgCh & Jumping Ch Jakovall Oh You Pretty Thing) has been such a perfect agility dog for me. When Loox was one year old we got into "Tehotiimi" and got to have frequent training sessions with Janita, Jaakko and Mikko. Loox is the first of my dogs who I feel I have been able to train correctly and consistently from the very beginning and that shows in the way she moves on course. Loox has got very strong technical skills and she is very confident, never afraid to make independent choices on course. I call doing agility with Loox "Luxury agility", such a perfect feeling to be able to run together with such a great dog. Loox is a Finnish Agility and Jumping champion. Her best placement so far in the –ranking is 8th in January 2012.

Jenni & Loox in agility

My youngest dog is TiuTau (Eyewitness Eavesdropper, born 11/2009). She is competing in agility class 3. TiuTau and I have taken a bit slower start with agility and our career together is just beginning.

I live together with Marko Mäki and our pack of six Border Collies. Marko has also been competing in agility for several years so agility is a way of living for us. Marko is competing with two dogs of our own breeding, Hertz (Fin AgCh & Jumping Ch Eyewitness Soulmate) and Split (Fin AgCh Eyewitness Sunborn). We have bred eight Border Collie litters so far under the prefix Eyewitness.

When training, I feel the most important thing is to plan and practise things well without the dog. Planning includes also the reward: where will the reward be placed, by whom and when. When the handler knows exactly what to do, he can make things as easy and clear as possible for the dog. I always want to understand why things happen on course and why the dog behaves in certain way. I see problems and faults as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more.

I have been an agility instructor since late 1990's. I was teaching on some of Janita's courses for a while before I moved to Mustasaari. During the last years I have been giving some weekend seminars around Finland and also in the Netherlands. I am also coaching some small groups of agility handlers every now and then. I think that my strength as a handler and an instructor is in having patience and determination as well as will and ability to analyze things. I feel that the biggest challenge as an agility instructor is in finding the best ways to explain things to different types of people. It's not enough to know what the answer to a question is, you also need to have many different ways to explain it. The best moments for me as an instructor are when I get someone to do a visible improvement in their attitude or help them find a solution to a problem that has been bothering them.