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Agility Dogs Go Large

All the dogs enjoyed their day out


OTHE BIGGER the better was an apt phrase to describe the latest round of the increasingly popular Large Breed Agility that took place last month.

Glorious sunshine once again had been booked – and duly arrived, along with a good mix of large and giant breeds for the first of this year’s Large Breed Fun Agility competitions in Leicestershire.
The word had obviously gone around throughout the Irish Wolfhound camp, as they were well represented with 7 fine specimens of the breed all demonstrating that, despite the heat, even the largest (and with one boy in particular –the term ‘giant’ didn’t do him justice!) can and do enjoy agility.

A total of 22 dogs and handlers from across the country arrived at the Harlequin Fun Agility Club at Markfield, Leicestershire on May 16th to take part in something that is becoming increasingly popular with each event – agility for the larger canine.

The day had been organised again by Jill Gibson, the owner of the club, who keeps persistently knocking on the Kennel Club door in the hope that one day Large Breed Agility will be recognised within its own category of dog agility.

Handlers were divided into groups and four instructors worked throughout the morning, introducing the dogs to the various obstacles that would be found on an agility course.

Frequent breaks were welcomed by dogs and handlers alike, and with the largest parasols ever seen (appropriate for the largest dogs ever seen), plenty of shade was needed to keep everyone cool throughout the day.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes who are members of the club, gave a demonstration at lunchtime, while the ‘big guns’ and their owners had a chance to sample the delicious food, from the enormous burger van (everything about the day seemed to be extra large, including the half pounders!).

After a well-earned rest, and a chance to talk to other large breed enthusiasts, the afternoon saw each of the dogs and their handlers preparing themselves for running a complete agility course on their own.

Commenting on the final run Jill said:

"One by one, each dog that arrived in the morning has given a wonderful display of confidence and enthusiasm to try something that they have never done before, demonstrating that large breeds, when adequate equipment is used to accommodate their needs, can also have fun at agility."

With encouragement from fellow ‘competitors’ there was rapturous applause for each dog that sailed over the last jump on the course. Special rosettes along with photos of their dog in action, guaranteed lasting memories of the day.

The entire proceeds from the event was donated to research into Hereditary Diseases in Giant Breeds and a total of approximately £600 was raised from the event.

Summing up the day, Jill said:

"I would like to thank all those who made the day such a success, Dave Morcom the sharp-eyed photographer, who captured these athletic dogs in full flight, the instructors and volunteers for their time, the handlers that made the effort to drive many miles to participate and, most of all, their dogs that showed great courage and trust in us all, and helped to put large breeds closer to recognition within the world of dog agility.

The next Large Breed Agility Day takes place on: Sunday, 27th June. Call: 0116 287 2319 for details.