Agility Championship Is For The Dogs

If you see the dogs weave in and out of the poles, you'll be amazed at just how fast they go at the American Kennel Club Dog Agility Championships in Sunbury, Ohio. Last weekend, dogs and handlers from 42 states took part in the competition, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.

The object was to get your dog through a series of obstacles in a specific order. The order changes every time, so it's up to the handler to tell the dog where to go next.

The fastest time with the fewest mistakes wins.

In just the last 10 years, dog agility has become wildly popular in America — and the bigger it gets, the more seriously people take it.

"I felt pretty secure on the opening, we do that opening a lot. I was really worried about the tunnel A-frame discrimination. That is an area where I always have to work with him," one woman says, referring to her dog.

And you haven't heard the half of it. These dogs are pampered like major league athletes. "After they run, you try and keep the muscles loose, just like any athlete," one contestant says.

Ginsey St. Croix and her dog are fairly typical contestants.

"I love being with this dog!," she says to her dog. "You are the best puppy in the world!"

Fact is, getting to this level of dog agility is virtually a full-time job, involving practicing nearly every day and traveling to meets nearly every weekend.

Terry LeClair says he is "pretty far" into it too. He re-landscaped his yard for the sport.


"That's the thing about agility; eventually you take out your patio to increase the practice space. So the patio's gone," LeClair says. "I didn't have a swimming pool. Other people fill in the swimming pool."

Other people also work out a lot themselves to keep up with the dogs. People other than LeClair, that is. "If I look down, I have trouble seeing the dog, you know," he says, laughing.

But in a way, that's the beauty of this sort. Even when they don't win everyone still praises their dogs.

Little League parents take note: This is what sports is supposed to be about.
  • Melissa McNamara

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