Blizzard displays dogged effort at agility 0
COLLINGWOOD — Blizzard tears through the 10-metre-long tube, and excitedly races around her owner's feet, waiting for a treat for a job well done.
Kelly Doner happily obliges, and prepares the three-year-old Shetland sheepdog for her next obstacle.
Doner and Blizzard will be headed to the Czech Republic in early October, to compete in the 2012 FCI Agility World Championships as part of the 12-member Canadian Kennel Club agility team.
Blizzard competes as part of the 'mini' team, the level for the class of small dogs.
The contest is the highest level of competition for agility dogs.
Doner started competing in agility contests with her Shih Tzu, Nitro, about five years ago, "just for the fun of it.
"Nitro does it for me, and Blizzard does it because she loves it," said Doner. "Nitro goes through it and is kind of slow, but (Blizzard) is a speed demon — she just loves it out there."
Doner came across Blizzard about two-and-a-half years ago, when she was five months old. Doner was just supposed to foster the dog, "but after three months of having her, I couldn't give her back."
She started competing at a year-and-a-half, working with a trainer twice a week. On Blizzard's 'off-days', Doner will work with the dog for 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes in the evening, running her through the series of hurdles, ramps, and weaves set up in the backyard of her Collingwood home.
"We keep the sessions short, so the dog ends the session wanting more," she said.
Doner and Blizzard "started small," competing in regional events, working their way up to the provincial and national levels.
In January, the Canadian Kennel Club requested applications from interested teams from across the county. A selection committee reviewed all the applications — which included a video submission — before making a final selection.
"In Europe, this is huge, but in Canada, it's still building a name for itself," said Doner. "Sponsors are starting to come on board, but (the costs) are something that we're still struggling with."
It will cost Doner about $4,500 in expenses.
Doner is hosting a dog training 'open house' and demonstration day on Aug. 12, at 135 Hickory St. Dog owners can come out and try a number of dog 'sports', including obedience, rally, agility, disc, and trick training, as well as watch demonstrations with Blizzard and some of her 'training buddies'.
Hourly sessions (a maximum of six dogs per hour) will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with an open house from 2 until 4 p.m. The hour-long sessions are $20. Pre-registration is recommended for a spot in an hourly session; email email@example.com, or call 705-443-7191.
Doner is also holding a raffle. For more information, go to their Facebook page at /2012ckcatcfundraisingraffle.