“It’s always a great way to ring in the New Year when you can play with dogs,” said Kathy Blackburn on Saturday as she fed treats to her golden retriever Lincoln, who had just completed an agility class at Clark County Fairgrounds.
Washington and Oregon dog owners braved the freezing temperatures and wintry weather this weekend to compete their dogs in the Boston Terrier Club of Western Washington agility trials at the Dr. Jack Giesy Equestrian Arena.
Blackburn has traveled from Corvallis to spend New Years weekend in agility events for several years now. She was happy with 6-year-old Lincoln’s run on Saturday.
During testing, she also coached Booker, an 8-year-old golden retriever, who she says takes competition much more seriously than Lincoln. Although Lincoln enjoys playing the course more, Blackburn said he didn’t mind it at all.
“It’s a good way to bond with your dogs,” she said of agility competitions. “If you see when people run a class, the dogs are almost always focused on the handler to see what they’re supposed to do next, but that translates into other things in your life, as far as the dog is concerned. training and just having a good connection. with your dog. That’s kind of what it’s all about in life, is that they’re part of your family. “
Helen Johnson competes in agility events with her Boston Terrier, Chuckles, for the sense of camaraderie the sport creates between them. She is the event chairperson for the Boston Terrier Club in Western Washington and said agility people are used to spending their vacations at trials.
Chuckles loves to show off in front of the audience and hops around the course when he hears people laughing at him.
“He’s a clown,” Johnson said, giving him pieces of cheese stick. “You never know what you’re going to get. “
Two-year-old Chihuahua Javier had laughs and applause as he ran the course on Saturday. The judges lowered the obstacles for Javier, and he was distracted once or twice by people on the fringes of the ring.
But its owner, Lori Sage, was proud of young Javier for his race and how far he had come since training began. She wrapped him in a little blue coat afterwards.
Sage is the Secretary of Trials and owner of K-9 Sports, which organizes these trials locally. She was happy with the turnout after hearing from some people in the Seattle area who couldn’t brave the snowy roads to attend.
She joked that the people who showed up on the holiday weekend were “die-hards” who’d rather participate in an agility trial than celebrate otherwise.
She was happy to bring back the trials after putting them on hiatus due to COVID-19. It was difficult for her business to close for months, but she knew people would come if she found a way to bring them back.
“They came out of the woods,” she said. “Everyone wanted to run. Everyone has to have an outlet somewhere. It’s like our extended family.
Kevin White of Portland said Saturday was a good training day for his 3-year-old German Shepherd, Steel. They wasted time training in agility when Steel was a puppy because COVID put the brakes on so many trials. Now he is working on perfecting his speed to be more consistent and clean on the course.
“Honestly, it’s just fun, even when the two of us aren’t doing well,” he said. “We look forward to the weekends. “
It was nice to see friends again that he and his wife, Connie, made during the trials, White said. Although the sport can be competitive, he enjoys cheering on others during their races.