The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Working like a dog

Canines of all shapes, sizes, breeds show for agility trials at events center.


March 4, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Dart, a beagle, wraps up his run Friday in the dog agility course with some guidance from his owner Doranna Durgin.

CLOVIS — If all dogs go to heaven, then this weekend paradise could be found at the Curry County Events Center.

The Clovis Portales Kennel Club hosted the Stars and Stripes Dog Agility Trials on Friday and Saturday - and will again today - drawing dog owners from all over the region.

"We're having an excellent turnout, it's running very smoothly and people are loving the courses," Kennel Club President Dee Durland said.

The agility event features dogs of all classes, breeds, shapes and sizes trying their hands, or rather paws, at the obstacle course featuring a tunnel, a see-saw, hurdles and finishing with a jump through a ring.

Though exhibitors were jockeying for the blue first-place ribbon, there was not the same adversarial competitive spirit one might see at traditional sporting events.

"The nice thing about agility competitions is people are usually very supportive of each other," Durland said. "There's a real camaraderie between exhibitors that they support each other, they help each other, they give them advice. They want them all to succeed and they're not super competitive. They're competitive but they want everybody else to do well."

Multiple exhibitors said camaraderie is particularly strong each time the dog agility events are held in Clovis.

"One of the things that I really like about this place is how much we get people coming to watch," Doranna Durgin said. "It's more of a community involvement than some places and that's really cool."

One of those spectators, Grady resident Lynda White, said she likes to attend dog agility events whenever there is one nearby because she enjoys watching the interaction between the dog and its handler.

"You get to see the training, the owners and the dogs working together," White said. "The dogs are following the commands but they're all enjoying it, it brings the owner and the dog together and I think that's great."

Participants said there is an almost family-like relationship not only between the dogs and their handlers, but with all of the like-minded dog owners coming together to celebrate the animals they love.

"It's a great bunch of people," Carl Necker said. "It's people that really care for their dogs and get their dogs out and are active with them. You see those stories about people who chain their dogs up some place; this is the antithesis to that. People being active with their dogs, they're like family members."

But it's not all fun and games. The dogs and their owners require quite a bit of training before they can get in the ring.

"It's a lot of time, a lot of focus and it's a lot of building groundwork that you wouldn't even think of from puppyhood up," Durgin said.

"I tell everybody that it looks like they're just playing around on obstacles but it's incredibly difficult to get the dog to do what you want, when you want it, in the order you want it," Durland said.

Several competitors pointed to the weave poles — plastic poles placed just inches apart that the dog must rapidly navigate around — as being the toughest obstacle for the dog to complete.

"The things that the dogs are doing are not natural. Like the weave poles, come on right?" Kathy Matejka said.


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