National Dog Agility, November 8, 2003
Neil and I have always loved dogs, and we got two of our own in the summer of 2004. Neil wants to train our dogs to do tricks like catch frisbees, etc. I don't think we'll enter them in any agility contests, but right now we live vicariously through the owners we see at the agility competitions, like the one held on Thursday, November 6 through Sunday, November 9, 2003, at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center in Irving, just a 10-minute drive from our former apartment.
Part of the competition was the Flying Disc Dog. In this part the owners had to throw the Frisbee in any sort of creative way and get the dog to catch it.
There were some trial courses set up for the dogs to go through. Some of courses were judged based on making it through a set number or obstacles in the fastest time, while others were judged by the difficulty of the obstacles the owner freely choose for their dog to attempt in a certain amount of time.
One of the other competitions was called Flyball. (See photo 23). In this competition, four dogs made up a relay team. At the end of each line is a box like contraption (I'm not sure what else to call it!) that has a panel and two holes. The dogs are trained to hit the panel with their paws, and thus eject a tennis ball. So, the dogs hurdled across the 4 jumps, hit the box, caught the ball, and went back over the hurdles. Then another dog did the same, and so forth. The team which finished all the dogs first, won.
The $10K prize went to the owner of the dog who maneuvered through the Steeplechase course with the best time. (See photo 26). There are lots of hurdles, some tunnels, a tire, an A frame, and, of course, the weave poles. The trainer had to effectively communicate with his dog so that the dog would make it through all the obstacles in the right order. There were different classes of jumps and the dogs were grouped into the appropriate jump height they could reach.
We learn more each time we go to one of these agility competitions. It makes for a great day outside with some of the best creatures God created!