Saturday, 15 December 2018
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Agility event keeps dogs, humans active

BELTON — Handlers sped their dogs through obstacles Saturday, the second day of the Heart of Texas Dog Sports Show at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

The U.S. Dog Agility Association event concludes today with trials from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and visitors are welcome, said show owner Shawn Cossart of Dripping Springs. About 75 handlers entered about 100 dogs, she said.

Using voice commands and body language, the handlers guided the dogs through a jumper course and a grand prix course set up in the old livestock barn arena. Brittany Schaezler of Pearland said her female Shetland sheep dog, Trek, ran the jumpers course cleanly. This particular course can only have tunnels and jumps, she said.

“It had a lot of turns and interesting angles,” she said.

“I enjoy competing and training my dogs,” Schaezler said. “I’d rather do this than be sitting at home on the weekends. It’s very challenging and it’s good exercise.”

Trek qualified in all her Saturday runs, Schaezler said. She owns four shelties, two competing, one retired and one baby. The shelties enjoy the sport and are small, making the traveling easier, she said.

“It’s pretty much year-round,” Schaezler said. “I could show every weekend without trying too hard.”

She’s been doing agility trials for 17 years, she said, has gone to the national trials, and is planning on making it again.

Elizabeth Blanchard of Houston ran her male sheltie, Beacon, through the jumper course.

“I believe he ran clean,” she said. “We had some very nice runs yesterday. We had some qualifying scores. If something happens and you don’t get the run, benefit from it. Teach your dog something.”

Some of the HOT Dog Show trials were qualifying runs for the USDAA nationals in October 2019 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., she said.

Blanchard has two other dogs. Demo, her 12½-year-old male sheltie, still competes a little in the veteran class. Roxie, 11, a Boston terrier, is retired. Roxie ran for nine years, but is having eye problems. Beacon is her sixth dog to compete in agility trials.

“I started competing in agility in 1990,” Blanchard said. “It’s a great sport.”

Cossart ran a miniature schnauzer for Nanci Fisher of Austin in the grand prix course, which had tunnels, ramps and jumps. The grand prix was needed to qualify for the national show, Cossart said.

“I’m here four times a year,” she said of the Expo. “We love coming up here. It’s our favorite venue.”

She does shows in Kerrville in April and December, she said.

“I own five dogs, and I teach classes and host seminars in Dripping Springs,” Cossart said. “I bring people from all over the world to instruct. I love training and I’m very competitive. What more could you want, than to have fun with your dog and compete also. Competing tests your training skills.”

Every dog is different, she said. Most Border collies, for example, can be trained for long periods of time.

“Some breeds, you can only do something a couple of times and they’re done,” Cossart said. “The goal is to keep training fun. If you treat it like a game, they never know they’re working.”


The Bark Box

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