Border run

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Saturday and Sunday afternoon our family spent some time at the American Kennel Club Agility Nationals, held in the Ford Truck Barn at Expo Square. Admission was free, and the event drew big crowds.

It was impressive to watch the dogs navigate a difficult course, but I was just as impressed by the trainers, who had to reposition themselves and give hand and voice signals so that after every obstacle the dog knew exactly where to go next. Going across the wrong obstacle or hesitating to jump the right one resulted in a disqualifying penalty. (I never did get a clear understanding of the rules and the penalties. I had expected to see so many penalty seconds added to a dog's time, but that didn't seem to be the way it worked.

It wasn't surprising that of the six size classes (8", 12", 16", 20", 24", 26"), the four top classes were won by border collies. (A papillon won the 8" class, and a shetland shepherd was the 12" champ. Here are the results from the final day of competition, with photos and links to diagrams of the courses.) Border collies are one of the smartest breeds, as well as being fast and agile.

Way back in 1994, my wife and I were in Scotland on vacation and saw a border collie demonstration at Leault Farm near Kincraig, Inverness-shire. Neil Ross, a champion herder, controlled six dogs with a combination of whistles and spoken commands. We watched as the dogs positioned themselves in a hexagon around a group of sheep and herded them into a pen.

It was great fun to watch these talented dogs and their handlers zip around the course.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 31, 2008 10:39 PM.

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