The fast-growing sport of puppy agility has become one of the more popular events at demoes like Westminster and a greeting alternative for those who conceive conformation testifies are archaic and outmoded
The sport of hound 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 leaps, weaving their course around spars, darting through passages, obstacle 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 expression clues and body language.
At the highest form it’s dressage on uppers, marrying the human-animal bond and precision of equestrian sports with the frenetic gait and inherent volatility of alpine skiing, where the margins that separate first place and catastrophe 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 barely controlled chaos has fast become one of the more popular happenings of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in the seven years since it was first added to the program- and a accepted alternative for those who belief traditional conformation testifies, where bird-dogs are evaluated almost entirely on their impression, are archaic and outmoded.
The introduction of an agility competition to Westminster marked a step forward for this emerging sport and few coaches 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 athletes: their own borders collies Verb and Fame.
Read more: www.theguardian.com