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Dogs, handlers have their day at agility clinic

February 28, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Pets from throughout the Tri-State area spent Sunday rushing through tunnels, scaling catwalks and weaving in and out of obstacles designed to test their agility. All sizes and breeds of dogs and their handlers got a real workout.

In addition to the physical challenge, the agility clinic at the Mason & Dixon Kennel Club offered a mental boost to dogs, organizers said.

"It's a great confidence builder," said Sue Guilmino, a club member.

Tracy Gagliandi drove an hour from Stephens City, Va., to bring her 2-year-old collie, Kendall, to the two-hour agility clinic.

"He loves going through the tunnel," she said, as Kendall barked at the other dogs, eager to get back to the obstacle course.

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"He wants to shoot through the tunnels before they start," Gagliandi said.

Kendall, who's been enrolled in the club's agility training class for six weeks, has a lot more confidence than when he first started, Gagliandi said.

"He was very shy and skittish. Now he's more outgoing," she said.

Gagliandi was one of about 12 pet owners who brought their dogs to the Mason & Dixon Kennel Club's agility clinic at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. It was the second day of weekend pet competitions, training clinics and other events offered by the club. With nearly 50 members, the organization holds a number of activities throughout the year.

The club offers agility training clinics three days a week at the center, organizers said.

The next six-week class begins Friday. Agility training clinics are held Monday and Friday evenings and Tuesday afternoons.

Also Sunday, several pets and their handlers participated in a Rally-O clinic. Rally-O, one of the club's newest sports, designed to promote a dog's good civic behavior and obedience in public.

Pat Sutton of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., brought her dog, Shadow, a standard schnauzer, who has won previous awards for pet obedience. Sutton said Rally-O, a less formal type of obedience training, gave Shadow an opportunity to get out of the house and socialize.

"It's a good way to get the average pet owner involved. It's more relaxed. You can talk to your dog and have fun," Sutton said.

Several pets and their owners also received the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test award.

"Dogs are tested for good manners shown in a series of behavioral tests," club member Ann Ford said.

For information on upcoming kennel club events, you may visit www.masondixonkennelclub.com on the Web.

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