It is not a beauty contest, although, many of the competitors are quite striking. There are no style points, but the participants are very graceful, in a raw, athletic kind of way. Nicely attired handlers do not position competitors in statuesque poses and then slowly trot them around a ring. There are no “Best Behaved” or “Miss Congeniality” awards. In this competition, there is only one thing that matters: speeeeed.
This past weekend we were at a campground just east of Shenandoah National Park and as it so happened, our stay coincided with an event sponsored by the United States Dog Agility Association. In this event, dogs tend to be on the smaller end of the spectrum, with Border Collies typically being the largest participant. When you see the course that they run around, scamper through and over, slalom, jump over and through, and teeter on, you can understand why there are no German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, or Dobermans in the ranks.
I really enjoyed watching the dogs tear around the course being directed by a handler’s commands and hand and body movements. The dogs run the course in a set fashion, with time penalties being assessed for not getting cleanly over jumps and missing an obstacle. My favorite dogs to watch working were the Border Collies. As one of the handlers noted, they are “wicked smart and wicked fast.”
Here is the link to the association’s website: www.usdaa.com , and a few photos of the athletes in action.
Hover your cursor over the below photo, then click on the arrows to see Fred’s photos from the dog agility event: