5/27/2011 - WNC Ag Center going to the dogs at weekend event in Asheville area
by Mike McWilliams
MORE family fun over the Holiday weekend in the Mountains!!
FLETCHER -- Mail carriers and squirrels might want to steer clear of the WNC Agricultural Center this weekend.
More than 400 dogs are expected to run, jump, climb and perform other agility feats there Friday-Sunday during an American Kennel Club agility trial. The event will be hosted by the Blue Ridge Agility Club.
This event is one of four the Blue Ridge Agility Club hosts at the Ag Center each year, club President Brian Ferrand said.
"The dogs run through tunnels, they run across teeter-totters, weave between poles," Ferrand said. "There's a lot of running, also some climbing. The events are all timed, and basically the dog with the best time and the best score wins."
The object of dog agility is for the handler to navigate the dog through a timed obstacle course without the dog making a mistake. Agility training builds a bond between the owner and the dog, and fosters camaraderie among the dog handlers, too, Ferrand said.
Blue Ridge Agility Club, which started about 15 years ago and is based in Henderson County, has about 85 members spanning from Upstate South Carolina to near Winston-Salem.
Ferrand, who lives in Mills River, started participating in dog agility exercises about 1996, when a stray dog found its way to his home.
"I took him in and needed some training, so I went to one of the local training center in Hendersonville and took the basic training classes," Ferrand said. "I loved that, and she (the trainer) said I could try agility, and I've been trying it ever since."
The event will also feature an AKC Fifteen and Send Time -- FAST -- class Friday. The class is an additional test of strategy, accuracy, speed, timing and distance handling to demonstrate a dog's athletic ability.
Admission to the agility trials is free, though everyone not competing is asked to leave their dogs at home.
Ferrand has two border collies and said a variety of breeds can be found at agility trials, including Labrador and golden retrievers, Parson Russell terriers, Shetland sheepdogs and some mixed breeds, too.
"The teamwork with the dog is really fun, and the dogs really love it," Ferrand said. "I like the race against time. It's also the most sportsmanlike sport I've ever been involved with. Everybody likes to see everyone do well."
The Blue Ridge Dog Agility Trials return this weekend at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. / John Coutlakisfirstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
What: American Kennel Club Dog Agility Trials.
When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Where: WNC Ag Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher.
Tickets: Admission is free.