Monday, August 3, 2009

Fun at the Agility Nationals

This past weekend my husband and I joined friends at the Canadian Agility Nationals in Ottawa. It was a big event, with some 600 dogs competing. What a treat to have this in Ottawa, just a short 45 minute drive away from Sheltie Hollow. It was held at the National Capitol Equestrian Park where we have attended some big horse shows, seen the famous Show Jumping duos, and where, in the past, we were often a Vendor. Standing in what is usually the large Jumping Ring, I glanced up at the steep hill the riders and horses navigate in the major shows, and I was awed at the skill and bravery they have, to face such an obstacle.
This past weekend the large ring was filled with smaller rings where dogs were doing various courses and classes, and the dogs were no less courageous facing those courses than the horses are in facing the huge jumps they deal with.
My friend and I declared a "Girly Day", left our husbands comfortably in a shady spot where they could see everything and have easy access to the food concessions, and off we went to explore. We were lucky enough to have passes that allowed us to carefully and respectfully wander in among the dogs who were waiting to compete or resting after their runs, and to stand at ringside to take photos of dogs taking the jumps at break-neck speed and zipping through tunnels. What amazing athletes they are!
Every dog I saw was focused and eager when it was their turn to run the course, and before and after, they lounged in shaded tents with their people, obviously relaxed and having fun. It was enormously exciting to see breeds that I haven't seen before (except in photographs) like the Lakeland Terrier, the Shiba Inu, and the Kelpie, as well as the Italian Greyhound, a breed that I haven't seen for years. It was great too, to see mixed breeds competing, and dogs of all shapes and sizes. 600 dogs - I was in Heaven!
While I haven't had time yet to do a painting/drawing from the photos I took on the weekend, I have included an image of my Graphite Drawing "NEXT!" There are always lots of Border Collies and Shelties at these events, barking, running, and having a wonderful time.
It was great hanging out with a best friend, doing a bit of Doggy Shopping at the vendor tents, and when the four of us were thoroughly tired, retiring to a cool coffee shop to quietly visit and talk over the day.
You'll notice that I haven't mentioned our dogs. They enjoy the jumps and tunnel in the garden, and two of them are perfectly capable of doing Agilty at some level, but I am the liability there. I could never remember the course route, (don't even ask about when I tried my hand (feet) at dancing!) and I could never keep up with a Sheltie. The cat is laughing hysterically at the thought!