Agility competition creates dog-gone fun
POLSON – After already racking up a handful of purple qualifying and first-place blue ribbons, a saddleback border collie named Tickle closed out the second day of competition during the agility event with a flawless run and a well-deserved snack.
The event was held at the Milliron Arena in Polson. A Rover Runs Through It, a Missoula-based club, sponsored the NADAC sanctioned three-day event, which started on Friday and concluded on Sunday afternoon.
Tickle’s handler Aspen McKee joined more than 75 canine athletes and their handlers from various groups from Washington, Idaho and Montana as they competed for top honors as well as qualification points to the upcoming 2019 North America Dog Agility Council championships in Springfield, Ohio this fall.
McKee and seven-year-old Tickle have a strong connection and have been training and competing together for the last five years. McKee is a freshman at Polson High School and first got involved in dog agility events after taking a few classes and competing. She also participated in dog obedience through 4-H. “I have been hooked ever since,” McKee said of her previous experience.
A dog agility contest requires canine athletes to negotiate several obstacle courses in the fastest time possible without missing any or making any errors. A standard agility course requires dogs to zip through tunnels, zig-zag between poles, race up and down ramps, blaze through hoops and navigate a teeter-totter.
The variety of obstacles and objective challenges during an event are set according to the dogs’ height and experience level, allowing dogs from the itty-bitty to the really big guys. The dogs demonstrate their conditioning, concentration, training and willingness to work with their handlers in a variety of situations.