Top athletes from across the globe are preparing for their moment of glory in Scottsdale this week: The chance to prove they are faster, stronger and more agile than all other competitors — with four legs.
Canines from all over the world will converge at West-World of Scottsdale beginning Thursday for the United States Dog Agility Association’s second Cynosport World Games and the Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Championships.
"When most people think of dog shows, they (think of dogs) prancing around a ring," said Annie De Chance an organizer for the show. "This is an athletic event. It will be like nothing you have ever seen before."
Dogs and their owners are traveling from as far as Japan, Russia and South Africa to compete in events such as the Flyball Tournament, a relay race featuring four-dog teams, and Go-to-Ground, a maze race specifically for terriers.
Most of the 700 dogs will vie for the top prize of the weekend — the Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Championship title. Agility events challenge dogs to run in a timed and sequenced event through an obstacle course that includes hurdles, tunnels and a seesaw.
Agility is a team sport that measures more than just the dog’s speed and athletic skills, DeChance said. It also gauges the owner’s ability as a navigator.
"Agility is a hobby. For a lot of people it’s a passion," she said. "Being out on a course with your dog, even if everything goes wrong, is an incredible feeling."
Valley resident Carla Twigg has trained five dogs in agility over 14 years. This year she will compete at the World Games with Rex, a medium-sized black and tan mutt.
When Rex was adopted, he was very aggressive, Twigg said. But agility training helped Rex channel his energy in a more social environment.
"He’d lunge at every single dog he saw," Twigg said. "Once I got him running to the point that he didn’t care about other dogs, he wanted to visit everybody."
While the general public can watch the competition, not every dog can compete — Grand Prix participants must have successfully completed two qualifying events around the country to compete.
However, all canines are welcome to run the Doggy Do-Right course, a practice obstacle course, DeChance added.
"It’s a way for the general public to see if their dog has what it takes to do agility," she said.
For the dogs
What: United States Dog Agility Association’s Cynosport World Games and Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Championships
Where: WestWorld of Scottsdale
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $5 Thursday and Friday, $10 Saturday and Sunday