One of the great parts of my job is writing about the amazing dogs and people who compete in agility, flyball, lure coursing, dock jumping and other performance events.
As an added bonus, I often come across videos of these trials and competitions. Some videos are professionally done. Others almost look professional. And still others are clearly by amateurs who just want to record their dogs’ performance. Regardless, I never skip the opportunity to watch dogs actually doing what it is I’m reporting on.
I’ve seen many different performance events in person, of course, but I haven’t seen absolutely everything. One thing I’ve never been lucky enough to see is a lure-coursing trial. I so would like to, but it just hasn’t been doable yet.
But I have seen at least one that a lot of people haven’t – earthdog. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues here at Best In Show Daily said a while ago that he had never seen those feisty Terriers and Dachshunds going to ground at an earthdog trial. He planned to attend one recently, and I hope he made it. There is nothing better, in my opinion, than seeing dogs do something, or an approximation of something, they were intended to do.
So, today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite videos of dogs going absolutely crazy doing what they love to do – exercising their instincts while also pleasing their owners or handlers. Often it’s hard to tell if they’re more excited by the activity or the magnificent love they get afterward.
Either way, I’m pretty sure almost any of our dogs would appreciate a chance to give some of these not-so-common sports a try. But at the very least, I’m positive at least a few of these videos will bring a smile to your face.
So, let’s start with earthdog. This first video shows an introduction to quarry and a junior earthdog trial with the same dog and has nice titles describing what’s required for each. Clearly Sophie’s owner is a tad excited when the judge announces that she’s passed. The second video is quite a bit longer and shows the other end of the spectrum: two dogs working for their Master Earthdog titles. I like this one because, though the trial is held on a Christmas tree farm, you can hear birds trilling and dead flora crunching underfoot. It’s like a trip to the great outdoors from the comfort of your easy chair. The man trialing his Cairn has a control over his dog – just with his voice – that I admire.
Flyball is a sport I’ve never seen live. It’s just one of those things that I haven’t pursued sufficiently to find a tournament at a time and place that works for me.
The North American Flyball Association CanAm Classic is one of the biggest flyball competitions each year. You can watch the 2012 finals here. I think the announcers are having as much fun as the dogs, but it’s clear that the competitors really want to run.
The flyball finals at Crufts are in quite a different setting. Jumps are spotlighted in turquoise and purple before the hall lightens for the teams to enter. Once the dogs start running, it starts to look a lot like any other flyball competition. But it’s certainly nice to be able to see an event that happened all the way across the Atlantic without getting on an airplane.
This rather lengthy video of lure coursing is complemented by an eclectic soundtrack and some funny captions about what’s going on. In case you don’t recall, dogs wear colored vests while racing so that they can be identified as they speed over the lure course. For a little different view, check out the tallest dogs in the world going after a lure in this video of an American Sighthound Field Association trial for Irish Wolfhounds. A warning: one dog appears to get caught in the line in the second race, but everyone looks to be fine afterward.
It can be hard for some dog people to accept K9 musical freestyle or canine freestyle as a sport. However, those who participate certainly do, and some would argue that the obedience required to compete successfully puts it in the same arena as traditional obedience or rally obedience. While music, costumes and entertainment are all part of the competition, it’s the difficulty and creativity of the canine behaviors that really count.
Clearly the dogs and some of the owners in this video of the final of the 2012 championship at the World Dog Show in Salzburg are true athletes. And finally, the quality of my last favorite performance video for today isn’t the best, but the routine is such a crowd pleaser that I had to include it.