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K-9 Hi Flyers to wow Antigonish Exhibition with agile dogs and some new surprises

Danny, a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, performing one of many of the athletic feats of which he is capable.
Danny, a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, performing one of many of the athletic feats of which he is capable. - Contributed

A tail-wagging performance is on its way to Antigonish, during the upcoming Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition (ENSE), with the K-9 Hi Flyers trained, primed and ready to show off their fitness and agility.

This year’s show will feature some fresh attractions, including a puppy prodigy. The first puppy to run the agility course at the ENSE in Antigonish will be participating in the show.

Dog handler Cassandra Armsworthy said that although they don’t often bring puppies along to run the agility course, they have a pup tagging along, that is exceptionally talented for its age.
“It will be an opportunity to see a dog in its early stages of training,” she said. “Ordinarily we keep them in practices. Agility takes a lot longer to train than we usually have to get a puppy ready.”

In addition to that, there will be an element of further teamwork that goes beyond the bonds of the dogs and the trainers guiding them through the agility course. This year’s performance will feature paired-up running featuring horses and dogs.
“The horses will lead, and the dogs will follow, running the course,” Armsworthy said. “We’ll combine times and the fastest three times will be announced.”

She noted that event will entail “a lot of action, and a lot of fun for both the dogs and the horses,” since the animals are very responsive to praise from the audience.
“They love the cheering and clapping – the more support the audience can put out, the faster the animals go.”

The show will feature a wide variety of dogs running the agility course, with many different breeds showcasing their skills.
“There are quite a number of mixed breeds – there are no restrictions on what breeds can run the agility course,” Armsworthy said. “Smaller and heavier breeds will obviously have lower jumps – we make the accommodations we need to, to make sure everything is kept safe.”

Armsworthy described the show as “very fast-paced,” noting the objective is for dogs to get through an obstacle course – featuring a number of jumps, props tunnels, and contact equipment, such as A-frames – as quickly as possible, without knocking down any bars or making any mistakes.

“Dogs are usually at a flat-out run, generally.”

In addition to variations in breed, the dogs running the course are all of different ages, Armsworthy noted, adding, “we’re running dogs as young as five months, and ones as old as 12.”

It certainly isn’t a one-size-fits all approach, however. There are, of course, different approaches applied for different dogs.

“We tend to keep the speed down for younger and older dogs,” Armsworthy said. “We don’t want to put pressure on their joints. There are some accommodations that need to be made, but any dog can run agility.”

Dogs aged two to nine “are going to run higher jumps and run a lot faster,” while the younger and older dogs run fewer times in the show, she noted.

That being said, Armsworthy noted that agility training is healthy for dogs.
“Agility training is great for keeping dogs active later in life. It keeps them busy, keeps their weight down and improves their cardio – it’s just really wonderful for them.”

Like her fellow trainers, and the dogs they are bringing with them, Armsworthy is looking forward to the exhibition.
“It’s great. We enjoy doing the dog show, the community and the audience that comes to watch,” Armsworthy said. “They are very supportive, and it’s a great time for all of us.”

 


For you dog lovers out there…

The K-9 Hi Flyers will be performing two shows on Sept. 1 at 1 and 5 p.m.
Armsworthy said if anyone is interested in meeting the trainers – or the dogs – in person before the show, they will be at the exhibition grounds between 2 and 4 p.m.

“Feel free to come up, talk with the handlers and meet the dogs. We love talking about agility and the team, and sharing information on what we do.

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