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Tag: agility

One-eyed dog charms crowd at Crufts

A purebred flat-coated retriever won best in show, but it was a one-eyed mutt named Dudley, and his dazzling performance in an agility contest, that won over the crowd at Crufts — the pretentious, I mean presitigious, UK dog show that concluded this past weekend.

Dudley, a six-year-old Lhasa apso-pug mix who lost his eye as a pup, and later was given up by his owners,  won an official Crufts rosette for his performance in the agility ring, beating out other rescued dogs in the competition, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

While we’ve been known to poke fun at purebred dog shows, it’s good to see them — on both sides of the pond — opening things up to mixed breeds, like Dudley. And, if  the crowd reaction to him is any sign, it’s something they should do a lot more of.

“He was definitely the crowd’s favorite and got a huge cheer as he ran round,” Dudley’s owner, Lara Alford, from Southampton, said. “Over the last few days he has had so many admirers – he’s probably been one of the most photographed dogs at Crufts this year.”

Dudley had his right eye removed as a puppy because of an infection. At 14 months, his owners surrendered him at an animal adoption shelter.

Alford, shortly after adopting him, noticed his speed and maneuverability and began training him in agility. As they run the courses, she always stays on his left side, so he can see her.

At Crufts, the training paid off.  “It was one of the fastest rounds Dudley’s ever done,” she said.

More than 21,000 dogs vied for honors at Crufts, which opened Thursday. In the best-in-show competition, Jet, a flat-coated retriever, beat out a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a German shepherd, a boxer, a wire fox terrier, a standard poodle and a bichon frise.

Ace, astoundingly, aces agility

There’s not much cooler than finding out your dog has a hidden talent.

Ace — despite his many talents, people skills near the top – has never been much at catching Frisbees. He’s never been the speediest beast at the dog park. Fetch has never held his interest. And he doesn’t swim, preferring slow wading in gentle waters.

So when we showed up bright and early for agility class at Four Paws Kingdom, the dog-dedicated campground in North Carolina where Ace, my son and I spent last weekend, I had low expectations. Ace is graceful, maybe, but, given his size, about 130 pounds, I never considered him agile.

Once I turned over the treats and Ace to my son Joe, who we’d designated official handler for the day’s activities, Ace — under the tutelage of dog trainer and campground owner Birgit Bartoschek — amazed me to no end.

His name now stands for: Agility Canine Extraordinaire.

Granted, he started off slow — rather than jumping over a series of three six-inch high hurdles, he found he could just as easily walk through them, knocking the rail down on each one he went through. On the third try though, and after the rails were raised higher, he began leaping, clearing most of them until, on his final try, he went back to just knocking them down.

Next on the course was a tunnel. I didn’t expect him to do any more than stick his head in, but with some encouragement, and a treat waiting at the other end, he rumbled right through it.

Moving on to an A-frame, about five feet high, Ace, after watching a Chihuahua named Freckles climb up and scamper down, followed suit — also to my surprise.

Then came a narrow elevated beam, only about 10 inches wide, and about four feet above the ground. No way, I thought to myself, or maybe out loud, is he ever going to get up on that.

But, in pursuit of the treat dangling from my son’s hand he did, not even watching where his paws were going, his eyes on the prize the whole time as he walked — quite gracefully — from one end to the other.

The only obstacle he didn’t master was the curved tunnel. Without seeing the light at the end — or the treat at the end – he refused to go in. (And I don’t blame him a bit. Possibly, being from Baltimore, he feared he’d have to pay a toll once he got through.)

Birgit didn’t think he should attempt the see-saw during his introduction to agility, as that’s usually for more advanced dogs. The weave — where dogs slalom through the poles — was too advanced as well, she said.

Later on though, at the Agility Fun Park that Four Paws has in addition to its regular agility course, Ace, with my soon to be college student son Joe manning the leash, was able to succeed at beginner versions of both.

And I felt bad for ever doubting him — Ace, I mean.

It’s not good to have too-low expectations for our dogs; even worse probably to have too-high expectations.

Where’s the line between them? Beats me. But one thing’s for sure, you never know how you, your dog, or your kid is going to handle something new — until you try, or watch, with crossed fingers, as they do.

BARCStoberfest 2009

DSC06858The weather cooperated beautifully this time around as BARCStoberfest — delayed for a week due to rain — drew large numbers of dogs and their owners to Baltimore’s Patterson Park for a day of contests, activities and a fund-raising walk held under crisp, clear skies.

Contests were held for best costume, owner-dog lookalikes, best kissers and more. In addition to those official contests, we’ve got some unofficial awards:

 

Best leg warmers — second place:DSC06907

 (Official Lifesavers entry?)

 Best leg warmer — first place:

DSC06876

 (And a pretty dazzling flyball player, to boot.)

Best non-portable urinal:

DSC06853

(Toilet trees — for the man who has everything)

Cutest dog — scruffy division:

DSC06928

(If Hollywood ever needs another Benji…)

Best Hannibal Lecter imitation:

DSC06908

(Actually this fella was a sweetheart, all 195 pounds of him)

 Highest Flying Dog

DSC06887

(Chi Chi — flyball star, Karma Dog, and  friend of Ace)

 Cutest dog — wiener division:

DSC06922

Dogs show their stuff at Purina Challenge

Some of the country’s most athletic dogs competed at the National Finals of the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge at Purina Farms near St. Louis over the weekend.

More than 30 canine athletes jumped, vaulted and dove their way into the records books as they competed in Olympic style events, including agility, Jack Russell hurdle racing, 60 weave pole, freestyle flying disc and the crowd favorite, dog diving.

Among those taking part was Olympian Greg Louganis, who competed with his dog, Dobby, in the small dog agility event.

DogFest is tomorrow

dogfest

 
DogFest, the Baltimore Humane Society’s biggest fundraising event of the year, kicks off  Saturday morning at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley.

The day-long event starts with a 5K-9 Fun Run at 7:40 a.m. At 10 a.m., the gates open and the activities begin — and there are a ton of them.

DogFest will feature agility runs, dog contests, pet education,  a sandy beach and pools for the dogs to play in and a puppy pumpkin patch, where dogs can pick their own pumpkins.

In addition to numerous dog rescue groups on hand, DogFest will also feature Equine Rescue groups that will be exhibiting horses for adoption and offering horseback riding for kids and adults.

Admission is $10, with children in strollers admitted free.

Here’s a partial schedule:

Read more »

Surf’s pup: Event added to Purina Challenge

Some of the most talented dogs from the West Coast descended upon the San Diego County Fair last week to participate in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge — including some who have mastered surfing, an event that was added to the competition for the first time this year.

The canine sporting event also featured dog diving, freestyle flying disc, head-to-head weave poles, Jack Russell hurdle racing, and agility.

The 2009 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge was part of the San Diego County Fair and took place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on June 13th and 14th. Canine surfers competed in heats that were scored by a panel of judges, including U.S. Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis.

Lack of arms doesn’t deter dog trainer

You might think former Marylander Donna Rock would be at a disadvantage when it comes to dog obedience competitions — given as the dogs are required to follow non-verbal signals, and given Donna has no arms.

Yet Donna and her 8-year-old Doberman Pinscher, Annie, have won numerous obedience and agility titles, including the prestigious Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and the crown jewel in agility, the Master Agility Championship (MACH).

Donna, who now lives in Lacombe, Louisiana, was born without arms. She originally purchased Annie to be her companion and to train for obedience competition, but the two developed such a bond that Annie became her service dog, assisting her with everyday activities.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Donna lost her home, belongings, and even her job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When she was temporarily reassigned to work in Washington, Annie went with her helping her in the subways, and on escalators.

Annie was a 2008 winner of an American Kennel Club Award for Canine Excellence (ACE), winning the exemplary companion dog category. The awards commemorate loyal, hard-working dogs that have made significant contributions to their community.

Annie is only the second Doberman pinscher in the nation to be named an American Kennel Club champion in both agility and obedience training.

Donna, over nine years of training the dog, created her own method of non-verbal signals, using her feet and legs, shoulder and head to communicate. While she can accomplish most things with her feet, from turning on faucets to feeding the dog, Annie helps her with the few things can’t do for herself.

Donna is shown working with Annie in the video above, from about five years ago. To see a newer video, check out this report from WWL-TV in Lousiana.

Annie is now retired from competition, and Donna is training a year and half old border collie named Roller, running him through the agility course, teaching him the same foot and leg commands, and showing him what his job will be.

“He’s got some awful big paws to fill,” Donna said.