I love dogs! I have two of them, but as a self proclaimed "cat person" the concept of Dog Sports is a foreign one to me. When you work at North Shore Aninal Hospital though, you are surrounded by co-workers and clients with dogs involved in various activities and competitions.
After doing some research and inquiring with several human contendors.... "Here's The Scoop" with Dog Sports:
According to Wikipedia; The definition of Dog Sports are sports in which dogs participate. There are a broad range of activities that may be included under the term. Many of the sports have humans interacting with dogs to give direction (e.g., obedience trials, herding trials and sled dog racing). Some of the sports (e.g., agility trials, Disc dog and dock jumping) are also viewed by a wide audience and may commonly be televised.
Dr. Whitney and Dr. Axnick have four dogs and they are all involved with at least one Dog Sport; from Dock Diving and Agility Training to Rally Obedience and Barn Hunt Competitions. Pink, Effe, Skye and Duncan are always competing and winning in their respective sports.
I asked Dr. Whitney a few questions about that:
Q: What is the best thing about being involved in Dog Sports?
A; Being able to do something fun with our dogs and seeing their progression and ability to learn.
Q: What kind of commitment does it take to be involved with your dog and Dog Sports?
A: It depends on your level of competition. We practice with our dogs daily at home and have weekly lessons for obedience, agility and most recently Barn Hunt. We compete almost every weekend, either locally or sometimes out of state.
(In full disclosure, I had to research what Barn Hunt was.) According to the Barn Hunt Association Website, Barn Hunt is the new and quickly growing dog sport. In competitions, dogs locate rats (safely enclosed in aerated tubes) hidden in a straw/hay bale maze. It’s a timed event with three different dog height divisions. Titles are recognized by the AKC and are based on levels of increasing difficulty and championships. Barb Hunt members are committed to creating a safe and fun sport for dogs that also holds rat care at the highest level of consideration. For further information, you can visit: Barn Hunt Association Website
I also asked our head receptionist, Alice some questions regarding her involvement with her competetive dogs and The Greater Racine Kennel Club, where she has been a trainer for over three decades.
Q: How long have you been involved with training your dogs in Dog Sports and The Greater Racine Kennel Club
A: Obedience 35 years, Rally 20 years, Agility 20 years and Barn Hunt, 2 years. I have been involved with GRKC for 35 of those years.
Q: What are your fondest memories of your dog sport experiences?
A: My fondest memories are competing at National Invitational events. It is such an honor to attend and is so exciting to be a part of. Dog Sports has brought me several life long friends and in the end you always go home with the best dog, no matter what!
I have learned a lot about Dog Sports since I started working at NSAH and if you would like more info on getting your dog involved in Dog Sports, I know my coworkers wouild be happy to talk to you about gettin your canine couch potato involved in these fun activities!
In conclusion, I have to wonder how "Cat Sports" would play out...maybe we should leave sports to the dogs, and napping to the cats!