Leduc Hosts National Dog Agility Championships
Major sporting events just keep coming to William F. Lede Community Park. For the fourth week in a row the park hosted an event that attracted interest from across the nation. From August 1st to August 4th the 25th Annual Dog Agility National Championships were held in Leduc.
Hosting this year’s event was Dynamo Dogsports, a small non-profit dog club and a small army of volunteers who welcomed nearly 500 dogs and their handlers from coast to coast. They had qualified from among the thousands of agility enthusiasts that compete each year across Canada. Dog handlers range in age from 10 years old to over 65. They showed off their skill and teamwork, on six tough and technical agility courses over the 4 days of competition, culminating in the crowning of 15 National Dog Agility Champions.
The competitors were impressed by the facilities Leduc offered as six full rings were established on the rugby grounds that were free of gopher holes and level allowing the dogs to compete at their best without fear of stumbling. Before the first day of qualifying had finished many of the competitors were impressed by the facilities saying they would like to return if future events were to be held in Leduc.
In order to qualify for nationals, a dog/handler team must attend a regional event usually held in June each year. They need to accumulate more than 350 points by competing in six different runs – two Standard, two Jumpers and two Gambles. A Standard run consists of all agility equipment – tunnels, jumps, weave poles, dog walk, A-frame and teeter, done in a particular order and in a specified time, while a Jumpers run only has jumps and tunnels but is a much faster run. A Gamble run can have any equipment, but a section of the run is completed with the handler staying behind a line and sending their dog to a sequence of equipment from a distance.
Purica is the major sponsor of the Canadian National Steeplechase Championship. The top competitors in various classes and categories raced against the clock, for prize money totaling $10,000. The course for the final consisted of hurdles, tunnels, A-Frame (1), and Weave Poles (1 set of 12), designed for speed.
In order to qualify for the final the results from two qualifying rounds were used to determine the finalists. The pre-qualifying round consists of two parts. During the first part the dogs are faced with a number of obstacles with each obstacle worth from one point to ten, depending on the difficulty of the obstacle. The dogs have 40 seconds to complete as many obstacles during that time and earn points. The dog handlers are allowed to be in close contact with their dog during this phase. The second part has the dog complete a set obstacle course with 35 seconds where the handler has to remain at a distance away from the dog. Four hundred and fifty-nine dogs and their handlers advanced to the final rounds
The top dogs from those rounds moved to the final and competed for the money. The competition was divided into five height categories and 3 divisions (Regular, Special, and Veteran). The dogs were scored on a time plus faults basis. Faults on course are added to the performance time, with the fastest competitors awarded the top prizes. The AAC will then oversee the selection of a team to participate in the 2014 IFCS World Agility Championships in the Netherlands.
For the first time the championship held an event for juniors. The junior event had two divisions one for those under the age of 12 and an open division for those 12 and over but less than 19 years of age.
The host committee provided over 250 Shade Tent Spots for dog handlers and their dogs that allowed the dogs to have a covered area to protect them from either the sun or rain when they were not competing.
The Championships ended on Sunday, August 4th with the awarding of ribbons, trophies, and prize money to 15 national champions and those who place in the top 10 in each of the 6 Individual Rounds, in the 5 height categories, in Regular, Special, and Veteran categories. Trophies were also presented to the top junior handler for the first time.
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