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160 canines from across Texas compete in agility

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Herald/CATRINA RAWSON

Charles Venable's dog Zulu, a cocker spaniel, runs in a dog agility competition Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

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BELTON   — Tail wagging and eyes fixed on her first set of obstacles, Breeze, a 6-year-old border collie, waited intently for her human, Dave Grems, to give her the command to race through the course.

Like a well-choreographed routine, Breeze followed Grems’ hand signals over jumps, up a ramp, through dark tunnels and through weave poles.

Breeze was one of more than 160 dogs, 18 months and older, who came from across Texas with their handlers, to compete in the U.S. Dog Agility

Association’s Dog Gone Fun Agility competition at the Bell County Expo Center Equestrian Arena Exposition Exhibit Area over the weekend.

The participants were separated by skill level — starters, advanced and masters. The dogs competed in different events, including a standard agility course, steeple chase, grand prix, gamblers, snookers and a pairs relay.

After an almost perfect run, a dropped bar on her last jump may have cost Breeze five points, but Grems said he was more than satisfied with their performance.

“Our time was good enough to move us along,” he said, giving his dog a congratulatory rub down. “It’s just so much fun being able to do something like this with your dog.”

Grems, a Wimberley resident, has been competing in dog agility contests across the country for the past 12 years.

When professional agility dogs run a course, it may flow like a well-oiled machine, but years of training have been endured by the dog and its owner.

“It all starts with basic obedience, but you get a rush when you see the bond between dog and owner intensify in the ring,” he said. “Agility training can be a lot of work, but the excitement and time spent working with your dog is more than worth it.”

Zulu, a 6-year-old cocker spaniel, proved that any dog can be a competitor.

Rescued from the streets by owner Charles Venable, a Dallas resident, Zulu rose through the competition ranks and currently competes at the masters level.

“We compete for the fun of it and Zulu really enjoys it,” he said, with an affirming tail wag from his dog.

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

7 images

Herald/CATRINA RAWSON

Charles Venable's dog Zulu, a cocker spaniel, runs in a dog agility competition Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

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