The culmination of years’ worth of training was on display at the Westoba Agricultural Centre of Excellence during the weekend.
A collection of canine athletes from throughout the Prairie provinces undertook about 420 runs per day on Saturday and Sunday, during which they tested their skills along paths that carried jumps, tubes and ramps.
The annual dog trials were one of the Crocus Obedience and Kennel Club’s big events of the year, held at the indoor centre prior to their making use of their outdoor site a few miles west of Brandon down Patricia Avenue this summer.
Brandon-based dog trainers Darrell Smith and wife Ramona Schreiber have been with the organization for about seven years, ever since they got their first miniature schnauzer, Corey.
They started training him as a means of bonding with him, Smith said, adding that over time they found the process fun enough that they built on his training and added two more dogs into the mix.
Fellow schnauzer Lexi, 7, joined the family along with border collie Ace in the Hole, 5.
With all their dogs, training to the point where they could participate in last weekend’s event was a long process.
Corey, as an example, started off with the basics, with obedience and manners classes, and they built from there. It took him about three years of foundational classes before they had a go at agility trials.
Crocus Obedience and Kennel Club has been with them along the way — "a great group" that does positive reinforcement training, Schreiber said.
Dogs are treated to various opportunities, with agility trials only one of many options.
One of the more interesting is barn hunt, which the Crocus group is the first in the province to offer licensed trials for.
Barn hunt is a scent search, wherein a live rat is placed into a secure tube and put in bales, with dogs charged with finding them.
Regardless of the path one chooses for their dog, or which path their dog chooses, it all comes down to bonding with one’s pet, Winnipeg-based dog trainer Brigitte Hunter said while watching from the stands as dogs competed on Saturday.
"The biggest thing is that they have some relationship with their dogs to do something with them," she said, adding that if the dog doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing, they’re not going to do well.
Participating with her 10-year-old husky-boxer mix Kira, Jackie Sage said that her involvement with the Crocus Obedience and Kennel Club came down to her love for dogs.
"It’s just bonding time," she said, adding that competitions such as those that took place over the weekend serve as something to work toward, and keep on working toward. "You’re always working on stuff with them."
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