'Tails' of athletic achievement

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010

From incarceration to the medal stand, a reprieve of sentence behind bars and a chance to live again, the 'tail' of Zip is one for the ages.

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This athlete's rise from the pound to the podium was one of many highlights during the Capital Kennel Club's annual North American Dog Agility Council Agility Trials at Dimond Memorial Park.

"We got him at the pound three years ago," Kristin Jones said as Zip licked at her face and nuzzled in against her side. "About a month after getting him home he ran away for two days near Skater's Cabin. We had a friend walk him when we were out of town and he just went running. He came back when he got hungry, ever since then he has been attached and loyal."

Zip is appropriately named as Jones, a former star JDHS swimmer now at Northern Arizona University and a triathlete, did all she could to keep pace with him on the course.

"He loves to run," Jones said. "Anytime. He sees that it makes me happy and that makes him happy I guess. It's a love-love situation."

The CKC agility trials allowed canines, and handlers, to compete in Novice, Open, and Elite divisions. Events included Touch 'N' Go, Regular 1 and 2, Chances, Tunnelers, Weave Poles, Jumpers, and Hoopers. Each class awards ribbons for first through fourth finishes based on time and lack of faults on the course. Faults can include going the wrong direction or not making a contact or leaving the course for a disqualification. Dogs and handlers can also receive a NADAC title on their dog by qualifying with 30 points in the class.

"But all that is secondary," Trial Chair and NADAC representative Mike Higgs said. "They just love going out there and having fun. If the dog is having fun then he just lays around like a carpet at home afterwards."

Summit, a golden retriever, was new to competition and had a passion for running to the nearest man in the audience instead of the obstacles, giving Lisa Barnard, from Whitehorse, a smile as big as her headache in retrieving him.

Australian cattle dog Chase was tops in four Elite events and one open. She is two-thirds of the way to obtaining an American Kennel Club agility championship and is also working on NADAC points. Her handler for the last eight years has been Sherrie Jans.

"It's a great way to do things and connect with her," Jans said. "We are both having fun doing the same thing and its great exercise for dogs and people."

The CKC is a non-profit organization established in 1984 and offers numerous programs for dogs and their significant others promoting activities and responsible ownership. They have over 30 two-legged members and even more tail-wagging, four-footed attendees. Results of the trials are posted on their site (www.ckcoj.org).

As for Zip, who won firsts in tunneling and jumping in his Novice division, his biggest prize was won already. He had the mountains and the fields of Juneau to play in, numerous canine friends to compete with, and a family to fall asleep with every night.

Said Zip, as he nuzzled into Jones' lap, "Arrrrrooooooooooo."

Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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