The fast-growing sport of bird-dog agility has become one of the most popular incidents at testifies like Westminster and a welcome alternative for those who feel conformation displays are archaic and outmoded
The sport of dog agility is easy to grasp for a first-time spectator. The objective is simple: Unleashed puppies negotiate a serpentine obstacle course- clearing a series of jump-starts, knitting their lane around poles, darting through passages, overcoming through tires, sprinting up and down ramps and a teeter-totter- as quickly as possible under the guidance of their handler, who can rely only on spokesperson clues and body language.
At the highest form it’s dressage on uppers, marrying the human-animal bond and accuracy of equestrian plays with the frenetic tempo and inherent volatility of alpine skiing, where the margins that separate first place and cataclysm are often down to hair-trigger decisions imperceptible to the untrained eye. To the unfamiliar, it can seem like magic.
It’s not hard to see why this fast-paced and eminently televisable spectacle of scarcely restraint chaos has fast become one of the most popular contests of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in the seven years since it was firstly added to the program- and a welcome alternative for those who feel traditional conformation depicts, where pups are evaluated almost entirely on their appearance, are archaic and outmoded.
The introduction of an agility competition to Westminster labelled a step forward for this emerging sport and few managers have since made a bigger impact on the US scene than Perry DeWitt and Jessica Ajoux, who live together in the Philadelphia suburb of Wyncote alongside two of America’s most famous canine players: their own borders collies Verb and Fame.
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