Dogs run, leap through agility trial at Cloud Livestock Facility

Published 7:45pm Friday, July 25, 2014

He leapt over hurdles, raced up and down an A-frame ramp, dashed through tunnels and sat obediently for five seconds before his trainer commanded he move on to the next obstacle. 

Six-year-old Tonka is a cardigan Welsh corgi, and he is one of many dogs in Bainbridge this weekend competing at the Tallahassee Dog Obedience Club’s three-day agility trial. The American Kennel Club event is being hosted at the Cloud Livestock Facility at the Decatur County Fairgrounds.

The timed event is comprised of several obstacles that each dog must navigate through within a specified time limit. The dogs receive deductions for mistakes.

“The dogs get trained on jumps, A-frames, seesaws, tunnels and weave poles,” Bonnie Bailey, trial chairman, said.

“The jumps are set by the height of the dog by the shoulder,” Bailey said, “so that’s why you see all different sizes and shapes.”

The dogs and their handlers or owners do not know the course before they arrive at a competition. Before the runs begin, the judge distributes a course map, and the handlers are allowed to walk the course for eight minutes to memorize it.

“I like the bond that you have with your dog,” Kristy Chiodo said. “It’s really about the relationship you build with your dog and just having a lot of fun with your dog and trusting your dog. There’s always a different challenge, something new.”

Chiodo owns and trains a Havanese named Willow who has been competing for three years.

Willow and Tonka both qualified on their course runs yesterday morning.

“He did well in that run. He qualified. He didn’t have any mistakes. He didn’t have any off courses and he didn’t knock a bar,” said Stella Bailey Vola, Tonka’s owner and trial committee member.

“The cardigans are very person-focused. They don’t care about the other people, but they are all about their mamas,” Vola said.

Dog owners and trainers train their dogs for agility courses for a number of reasons from helping a dog with low self-confidence to ensuring they get plenty of exercise.

“I have border collies that need a job, and this is their job,” Bailey said.

The trial will continue today and tomorrow from 7 a.m. until late afternoon.

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