6 July 2017

Canberra hosts International Dog Sports Extravaganza

| Doug Dobing
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Photo supplied by Dogs ACT.

More than 2500 dogs will be showcased at the EPIC Advance Dog Sports Extravaganza at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) this weekend. This is the second year that hundreds of dog owners and breeders will travel from around Australia to compete in this three-day international dog show and sports event.

Dogs ACT spokesperson Ms Woolley said this event is designed to show dog owners all the fun things they can do together with their dogs.

“We [want] to bring every dog sport, every discipline and every fun activity that you can do with your dog, all into the one environment. All at the same time on the one weekend,” Ms Woolley said.

Dog owners will travel from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane as well as NSW and Canberra surrounds to participate in this year’s event.

“It’s bigger than last year in both the Agility and show entry numbers; overall it’s going to be bigger,” she said.

Despite the chill of Canberra’s winter, participants and visitors will enjoy many events in the heated EPIC pavilions.

This year there will be five dog shows over the three days where purebred dogs will be judged on how they conform to global standards.

Photo supplied by Dogs ACT.

“The international part of it, [is] the fact that we bring out to Australia, seven international judges to do the dog show,” Ms Woolley said.

“Choosing the best canine in each class at the dog show presents a daunting challenge for the judging panel [of] international judges from Norway, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Israel and New Zealand,” she said.

There will also be a Junior Handlers and a Grooming competition as well as events demonstrating the speed and agility of dogs, including Agility, Rally-O, Obedience and Flyball.

Ms Woolley attributed the success of last year’s Agility event to having a New Zealand judge.

“They’ve got nearly 800 dogs doing agility in two days. It’s just phenomenal!” she said.

“Because it’s a New Zealander, and most Australians when they’re here don’t [usually] get to do agility work with [international judges].”

As a result of last year’s success, there is already a significant increase in those registered for this year’s Agility event.

Photo supplied by Dogs ACT.

Agility is a high-energy sport and requires competitors to direct their dogs around an obstacle course correctly and ‘beat the clock. It includes a variety of ramps, jumps, elevated walks, tunnels and a seesaw. This event will be in the main EPIC Arena, on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am each day.

“Last year, the weight pull was something that had never happened in Canberra before. And there was a dog that came down from Sydney who created an Australian record,” said Ms Woolley.

She said the unique events of ‘Weight Pull’ and ‘Dancing with Dogs’ will be featured again this year.

Weight Pull is a competition done on a flat surface. Dogs wear a correctly fitted weight pull harness and pull a loaded four-wheel trolley over a distance of five metres, within a time limit of 60 seconds. The initial pull is around 160kg and with each successful attempt, more weight is added. Handlers can only use voice commands and are not permitted to touch the dog.

“It’s really quite fascinating to watch,” said Ms Woolley.

Weight Pull. Photo supplied by Dogs ACT.

Dancing with Dogs has grown to be a popular sport in Australia. Dogs and handlers perform choreographed routines with music. This competition is judged on the choreography and the technical merit.

Ms Woolley has been involved with Dogs ACT since she had her first dog in 1975. She is currently the Dogs ACT coordinator for the education and promotion sub-committee.

There are so many social and health benefits of having a dog, she said.

“One of the things I like to do is promote dogs. I like to promote all the events and things you can do with your dogs.”

“There are more fun things to do with a dog than to just have it sit on your lap.”

“We just want people to come along [to the Dogs Sports Extravaganza] and see our dogs in all the different ways they can do things,” said Ms Woolley.

This is an opportunity to meet hundreds of dogs, chat with owners, and watch world-class displays and competitions, she said.

The EPIC Advance Dog Sports Extravaganza is hosted by Dogs ACT, with major sponsors Advance and EPIC.

General public entry to the Advance Dog Sports Extravaganza will be free again this year.

For more information go to dogsact.org.au/ and select GALA 17.

Event: Epic Advance Dog Sports Extravaganza

When: Friday 7 – Sunday 9 July; 9 am – 6:30 pm (Sun 9 am – 4 pm)

Where: EPIC Pavilions and Grounds, Canberra Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), Flemington Road entry.

There are many social and health benefits of having a dog. For many people, dogs are a best friend. Would you like to see more dog-friendly work and recreational places in Canberra? Let us know what you think in the comments below?

Doug Dobing is a modern communicator, journalist and content creator with a passion for people, politics and social justice. You can also hear him talking about local current affairs issues on 2XX FM 98.3 SubjectACT. He loves AFL and is an AFL Canberra photographer. You can find him on Twitter @DougDobing.

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