Show-Me Canine Competition in Columbia
Visitors at the Boone County Fairgrounds Saturday weren't just wandering around. They were preparing to compete in one of the fastest-growing sports in the world - dog sports, that is. Agility trials are becoming more popular. Last Saturday and Sunday, at least 100 dogs competed in the first Show-Me Canines AKC agility trials at the fairgrounds.
"The dogs are actually a heck of a lot smarter than we are," competitor Virginia Huxley says. "They tend to know what their job is, so there are lots of times when the dog actually saves us."
The courses, for speed and precision or for jumping, are secret until just before the competition when only the owners walk them.
"The courses change every single time, so you never see the same course at any show you go to. And it changes every day, so you get 15 to 30 minutes to walk your course," Chairperson Robin Nuttall explains. "So when you're out there, it looks kind of funny. People are walking around and their hands are waving because they are memorizing it."
Small and large dogs compete. For some, competition is the greatest gift an owner could give a dog. One dog named Freedom found freedom in the sport of agility. She was neglected, but competition boosts her confidence. The sport is not only good for dogs and their owners, but also for the town hosting events.
"It's good for Columbia, for the dog community here in Columbia, not only to give us who do this sport an opportunity to compete locally, but it brings in a lot of people," Nuttall adds.
Prizes include ribbons, toys and honors enabling dogs and their owners to advance to national competitions. It took Columbia three years to get a competition like this one.