Twice a year – once in spring, once near the end of summer – dogs and their owners gather in Lumby to see how fast the four-legged creatures and their two-legged handlers can manoeuvre obstacle courses.
The Coldstream-based Dog’O’Pogo agility group plays hosts to the trials. This past weekend, Sept. 16-18, the Lumby Lions Campground was set up as the course for a limited AAC sanctioned trial.
According to its website, agility got its start more than 40 years ago in England where dogs regardless of breed (purebred or mixed) can participate and have fun.
“People and dogs of all ages can have fun competing or playing at this unique sport,” said the host club on its site.
Agility is a timed obstacle course for dogs. There are many interesting obstacles through which the dog must maneuver including dashes into tunnels, walk up and along a raised dog walk, jump through a tire, onto the pause table for a five-second count, and, of course, the always popular weave poles which some dogs handled with no problem. Some were a little unsure and simply went past the poles.
On Sunday morning, the dogs and handlers had to deal with the early morning dew as competition began at 8 a.m., making the grass wet and somewhat slippery.
“Speed is of the essence but dog control is equally important,” said the club. “Each piece of equipment has its own unique challenges. The dog walk, teeter and A-frame, for example, all have yellow end zones which the dog must hit with a paw or faults are accumulated.”
Dog and handler may obtain title certificates upon fulfilling certain requirements. Dogs move from Agility Dog of Canada (ADC), to Advanced Agility Dog of Canada (AADC), then to Masters Agility Dog of Canada (MADC) and finally to Agility Trial Champion of Canada (ATChC).
Recently added post ATChC titles are: Bronze Award of Merit, Silver Award of Merit, Gold Award of Merit and Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence. Each level has increasingly difficult requirements.
“We are proud to have a number of dogs and handlers in our club who have achieved all or some of these milestones, but equally value our members who practice just for their own enjoyment and may not want to trial,” said Dog’O’Pogo.
One course was set up inside Royals Stadium for a game Gamble, which demonstrates the dog and handler’s ability to work apart from each other. This game consists of two parts. In the first part, the judge gives the dog team a set amount of time (60 seconds on Sunday morning) in which to accumulate as many points as possible.
Mini gambles (marked out with plastic lines), which the team may attempt, shows the dog working away from the handler. The mini gambles provide opportunities to double the obstacle’s points.
For more information on dog agility or the Dog’O’Pogo group, visit dogopogoclub.wixsite.com.