Top Dogs Compete, Entertain

FOCUS ON PETS

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A couple of weeks ago in this column, I mentioned the huge dog sporting event which would be taking place at West World in Scottsdale. Now I have been there and been a part of it. It was amazing.

In his welcoming address, President, Kenneth Tatsch said, "The Cynosport World Games characterizes this international event in the Olympic spirit by combining several world canine sporting events in a common venue, sharing in the joy of sport and good will among nations."

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This record-holding dock jumper impressed all spectators at the recent World Cynosport Games at West World in Scottsdale.

It is the largest event of its kind in the world, made up of independent sports authorities. Representing the U.S. are the United States Dog Agility Association, North American Flyball Association, DockDogs, Flying Disc Dog Open and the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. his is the first time this event has been held in the United States. Agility was the largest event, including dogs from Canada, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain and the United States.

Agility is an obstacle course, consisting of a tunnel, seesaw, weave poles, high walk, a variety of jumps and an A frame. (I have certainly missed a few.) The handler directs the dog through the course in the order dictated by the judge. The dog who completes the course in the shortest time with the least number of faults is the winner. It is a great event to watch as dog and handler work together and have a great time. Ten thousand dollars went to the winner of this this event.

Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs each. Dogs race side by side over a 51 foot course. They must leap over four jumps to reach a spring-loaded flyball box, which shoots out a tennis ball when triggered by the dog. Missed jumps, dropped balls and early passing force the offending dog to run again after the other team members have finished. This adds considerable time to the total. You can always tell when flyball is happening; the dogs bark constantly while waiting their turn. If you don't believe that dogs understand team spirit, you must watch flyball.

Dock jumping is great fun to watch. The dock is 40 feet long and two feet above the surface of the water. The handler throws a ball or other favorite object into the water and the dog jumps out into the water to retrieve it. The dog who jumps the greatest distance before hitting the water is the winner. One of the top dogs in the country was at this event. The record jump is more than 23 feet. All jumps in competitions are recorded and ranked nationally by DockDogs.

In the flying disc competition, it is incredible to see these dogs leaping high in the air to catch the plastic discs. There are three competitive events: the long distance toss and fetch, an obstacle course and the freestyle, in which dog and handler showcase all their talent and tricks in a choreographed routine set to music. In all of these events, the dog must catch the disc before it hits the ground to earn points.

There are two events for Jack Russell Terriers based on the dog's natural hunting instinct. In the race, up to six dogs are placed in a start box's individual compartments. When released, the dogs chase a mechanical lure down the track and into a hole in a foam barrier, which is the finish line. The Go-to-Ground competition consists of a wooden tunnel system which is disguised by natural brush and obstacles. The tunnels consist of multiple corners, scented with rat odors. The judge and a humanely-contained male rat, safe in a cage, are at the end. This is an individual timed event.

My humble canine freestyle group from the Valley, Arizona Canine Dancing, was invited to participate in this four-day event. We participated in ongoing demonstrations to a wide variety of music, and we invited people and their dogs to join us moving to music. It was great fun.

The most wonderful part of this event was seeing all the people having fun with their dogs. Each of these participating organizations promotes sports for all dogs, including mixed breeds. Besides canine participants, spectators were invited to bring their well-behaved dogs. The variety was endless with dogs of all sizes, shapes, colors, interests and talents, but all dogs were delighted to be there. Each dog handler thought his dog was the very best.

In last week's column, I talked about winter preparations for our dogs. There was some confusion about outdoor dog houses, which should be insulated, and cozy quarters for dogs in a garage or shed. The door-less kennel or crate, covered with warm blankets, would naturally only be used inside a garage or shed.

Get out there and have some fun with your dog. You will be amazed how much you both enjoy it.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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