As I briefly noted in yesterday’s post, I was fortunate to volunteer at the Front Range Agility event over the weekend. For years, I’ve helped out the Colorado Old English Sheepdog Rescue group and enjoy helping them whenever I can and the group uses these volunteer events to help fund their outstanding rescue program. Normally I work the agility event that is coupled with a dog show around the same time as the AKC’s Westminster but this was a second smaller opportunity that I was happy to help them out with over the weekend. Here’s a very short video from the event.
According to AKA’s webpage, “Agility is a growing dog sport in the United States, with over 1 million entries to the AKC’s Agility Program each year. Dogs race against a clock as they navigate an obstacle course with strong concentration and speed.” These amazing dogs are incredibly athletic and you can’t help but get excited when they compete.
Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. With between 14-20 obstacles, including tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time, dogs race through the courses designed for that day. The dog rely on cues and body language from their handler who directs them. All breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in agility. Jumps vary from 4″ to 24″ and our ring mostly ran 12-24″ with a couple of dogs running at the shorter heights. There were multiple classes and levels including Novice, Regular, Jumpers With Weaves, and Master to name a few.
MACH stands for Master Agility Champion title and is awarded by the AKC . To achieve this title, dog and the handler compete as a team earning first Novice, Open, Excellent and then Master Titles. There are two games to achieve this title: Standard which includes the contact equipment (A-frame, bridge, teeter and table) and the Jumpers with Weaves. The Novice, Open and Excellent titles require three qualifying runs with progressively harder requirements and courses. The Master titles requires 10 perfect runs at the Masters Level. Qualifying runs at the Masters level also earn one speed point for each full second under course time (partial seconds are eliminated.). Once the team is competing with both runs in one day at the Master level they start to accumulate “Double Q’s”. A team earns a Double Q when they qualify 100% perfect on both runs in one day. To earn the MACH title, you must earn 20 double Q’s and 700 points, so no easy feat.
To my great surprise, I spotted one of our fellow pet therapists, Kai, who was competing in the ring I worked. Trust me when I say this beautiful Aussie is quite speedy and she had a perfect run. Being truly ignorant of the sport of agility, I could only stand back and watch as everyone whooped and hollered as an official brought out a MACH bar, signifying Miss Kai had won another title (her second I learned when I was able to personally congratulate Kai’s mom, Sue later that afternoon).
Here are a few photos I was able to capture when not working in the ring. Obviously there’s a lot of waiting until your event is up for that quick 25-40 second run. And there’s lots of barking by the competitors-they are so wound up to race. Most Shelties bark with enthusiasm as they clear each jump and race through the poles.
Running into this little girl upon arriving, I learned she was competing in her first event. She was young, sweet and totally devoted to her mom. Sorry for the blurry images, I only had my cell phone with me which isn’t very good with fast action shots.
She reminded me of Elsa though she was much smaller. I’m guessing this girl weighed in around 40 lbs. whereas Elsa hovers around 60. But she was pretty and seemed to enjoy agility.
In a big no-no, I snuck this image when I worked in the ring. Photos aren’t allowed from inside the ring at the time, and was unaware of the rule.
Even an OES competed. I’ve watched “Dallas” compete before and she is a total love. Dallas loves high flying, is a breeze to handle and is completed adored by her sweet mom, Meg who’s always gracious, warm and friendly, just like her cute panda-faced baby. Meg is a big supporter of the OES rescue group and always singles us out whenever she talks to people. Both her and her dog are favorites of competitors and spectators alike.
Here is Kai shortly after her winning run with the event official and ring judge.
Being part of the hospital pet therapy, I couldn’t be more proud of fellow therapist Miss Kai and her huMom, Sue who trained me and Sam when we joined the team.
Sue plans to continue racing Kai but at a lower height now that she’s earned two MACH titles. Kai is one of our top pet therapists whose love of people is evident whenever she encounters them at the hospital. I mean, just look at her face! How could anyone not want to hug this precious girl?
Hopefully future opportunities will present themselves so that I can continue volunteering for the OES rescue group and improving my knowledge about this fun and amazing sport. Have you ever considered participating in agility? What made you decide to get involved with it?
Tails Around the Ranch will be taking a few days off while we take time to visit with out of state family. Posts and comments will likely be infrequent but I’ll do my best getting around to seeing you as I can. Otherwise, we’ll see you next week.
Live, love, bark! 🐾