Agile canines show off skill, sport

3-1 DogAgility2By Aubry Buzek
If you are expecting to see freaky-fast border collies at the Clovis-Portales Kennel Club’s American Kennel Club Agility Competition, you won’t be disappointed.
But if you are looking for the unexpected, you will also see papillons and a kuvasz tackle the same courses with ease and speed.
The agility competition continues today at the Curry County Events Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and features a variety of dog breeds racing the clock to complete challenging courses of jumps, ramps, tunnels and poles.

“We’ve got all sorts of amazing dogs here this weekend,” said Hokie Wiley, who competes with her boxer and Boston terrier. “They are so fun to watch.”
Admission is free, and the 330 competitors range from novice beginners to experienced national champions.
Force, a 3-year old border collie, put in one of the fastest times of the day on Saturday, finishing the 20-obstacle, 169-yard course in a little over 27 seconds – about 6 yards per second.
Kim Terrill of Albuquerque said she brought Force to Clovis this weekend to warm up for the AKC National Agility Championship in Reno, Nevada, on March 27.
LeAnn Miller also made the trip from Albuquerque to Clovis with her 90-pound kuvasz, Soleil. The fluffy white canine may be bred to guard sheep, but she is a natural on the agility course, having earned an “excellent” rating in the sport.

“She loves to do it,” Miller said. “You take her on the course and she’s very focused — she wants to do it and she has fun doing it.”
Thoug traditional AKC dog breeds dominate the sport, there are several mixed-breed or “all-American dogs” competing this weekend.
QT, handled by professional Evi Fox, was found as a stray wandering the streets two years ago. Now she is a fierce competitor in Fox’s string of athletes, which include border collies and German shepherds.

“It’s more challenging with her,” Fox said. “But she’s wonderful.”

Nicole Rosenberg said the herding dogs excel in the sport because their focus makes them easy to handle. But she said any breed is capable of doing agility, and the sport can strengthen a pet owner’s relationship with their canine companion.

“I love the connection you get with your dog,” Rosenberg said. “When you work with it and figure out how it thinks … you learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about your dog.”