Teacher Feature: Tina Gragg


Students tend to think that teachers live at school. Seeing teachers at the grocery store or out eating sometimes can be strange. Teachers definitely do not live at school, however, and science teacher Tina Gragg proves that. 

Gragg spends her free time teaching her two dogs, Sampson and Pi, to do agility courses. She has been doing this for seven years now. 

“It is so much fun and also challenging,” Gragg said. “It is a way to spend time and bond with my dogs, and the challenge is to train them and me to run a course and earn a qualifying score.”

There are different levels in dog agility training. Gragg explained that her dogs are at the beginning levels, and so they always have something to work on to improve. 

“It is both physical as well as a mental exercise for dog and human,” she said. “The big thing to remember is to make it fun for the dogs and they will do anything you ask, especially when treats are involved.”

With the pandemic, Gragg has said that the trials have been canceled, but there are competitions for dog agility where each dog and individual show their skills at the certain level that they have been currently training. 

Each dog trains at a level that fits its body type and age. 

“Dogs have to be at least 18 months old to enter, but there is no upper age limit,” she said.” Jump heights and qualifying course times are determined by the size of the dog. Smaller dogs jump lower jumps and have more time to finish. Pi and Sampson both run in a category that lets them jump lower than their height requirement so their joints don’t wear out so fast.”

There is no special type of dog for this; in fact, Sampson and Pi are both mutts.

“Sampson came from the Spartanburg shelter and Pi came from a rescue near Boone, NC,” Gragg said. “It is fun for them. They are smart, so they like having a job. Pi runs much faster than Sampson so my timing has to be better to get her around a course.” 

Gragg hopes to continue this type of training with her newest dog, Gumbo, a 4-month-old Catahoula Leopard dog. 

“I’m hoping that she will like it too when we start training,” she said.

Gragg proves that a person with a busy schedule can take up this hobby with any dog and recommends that people of all types try it.. 

“It is a great sport for kids and adults,” she said. “Many of the people I see at trials are older than I, so it is something I will be able to do as an old lady. Kids are able to show at trials if they have a guardian’s signature on the entry form, so it is hard to be too young to get into the sport.”