A bunch of people that appeared to be milling and wandering aimlessly about...
And all of the stuffed puppy dogs you can imagine...
I was at the Redwood Belgian Tervuren All Breed Agility Trials. Yup you heard right. I took a personal day off and went out to do something just plain fun related to weddings only because the people who invited me to attend the trial were Dan and Caroline of Tinywater Photography. Two of their dogs were competing that day. That's Caroline competing with her dog Milou, (aka CH MACH 3 Alto Mare Peixes Do Voo RAE NAP NJP MXF) the number 1 Agility Portuguese Water Dog in the country in 2008!
I don't know about all of you but I'd been under the impression that agility dogs were working and herding breeds like Border Collies, Austrailian Shepherds, Border Collies, Corgies and Border Collies. BOL :P
Pictured above in the top left is a Belgian Tervuren and the top right is a Bearded Collie. No surprise for me to see either breed. But then what's this? An Alaskan Malamute? Granted I don't know a ton about them but nothing I've ever read would have made me think that I'd see a Malamute at an agility trial. As a breed I thought they were too laid back for the intensity I thought agility required. And in the bottom right is an agility superstar breed, a Border Collie making quick work of the weave poles.
And I got to meet Apollo, his friends call him Polly, who I was told is the handsomest boxer in the world and just happens to be the #1 Boxer in agility in AKC in the United States. Dang I should have asked for his autograph or a paw print for Kitai to hang on his wall of fame!
And a breed I once considered for myself. A Belgian Tervuren. Known in Europe but not as widely recognized here in the U.S. there are several Belgian Shepherd breeds being the Tervuren, the Gronendael, Malinois and the Laekenois. They are medium to large sized working breeds with the Malinois probably the most well known in the U.S. due to their use as K9 dogs with police and military. Due to their nature they are happiest when with or near their person and absolutely need an outlet for their energy and drive which can make them very suitable for agility.
Another huge surprise that day was to see a pair of Briards. This is a French breed similar to Kotaro my Beauceron I had before I adopted Kitai. The main visual difference is the Briards have a long coat where the Beaucerons are short coated. They are adept herders and are a large protective breed that like the Belgian Shepherds do best with an outlet for their energy.
And there was plenty of jumping! Trevor, a Golden Retriever, soars over the jump with ease.
Above top left: German Wire Haired Pointer, top right: Milou the Portuguese Water Dog, Bottom left: Border Collie and bottom right: Greyhound.
Those aren't miniature Collies, they're Shetland Sheepdogs also known as Shelties. They are stunning. They are an entirely separate breed from the Collie though both are working/herding breeds.
OK this was so cute how could I not take a picture? While it doesn't ever surprise me to see a Retriever of any type walking around with a toy in it's mouth it makes me smile all the more because Kitai will on occasion decide to bring a toy on his walk with him.
Kitai comes from a long line of Miniature Wire Haired Cartoon Retreivers.
And yet another fun surprise. A Bouvier des Flandres! Another European herding/working breed. The Bouvier originated in either France or Belgium. It is a large breed with a longish double coat.
The one thing that I found most striking of all the dogs at the trial was the way they all sat and simply stared at their owners and handlers. Literally stared. To put this behavior into perspective I'd pretty much have to duct tape a steak, Kitai's favorite rubber chicken squeaky toy and a handful of dog treats all to my head to get him to stare at me with the intensity these dogs give their owners.
This Tervuren gets in some play time after competing.
And that's Milou, taking the tire jump.
And that big fluffy Bouvier on the See-Saw. The dogs have to step onto it and walk to the center until it tips the other way, then they walk straight across before moving on to the next piece of equipment.
A Brittany Spaniel takes a jump. If you like to watch equestrian show jumping you might really enjoy watching the dogs jump too. Just like the horses they lose points if they knock the top rail down.
And showing their incredible athleticism check out the air between this Belgian Malinois and the top bar. These dogs are high drive and aren't meant to be couch potato kind of pets.
I thought this German Shepherd Dog was just really beautiful. I think the long coat is more common in Europe then here.
The main thing to consider with several breeds like the German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies is that there are show lines and working lines. Show lines are bred for a certain body "type" or appearance as close to the breed standard as possible and tend to make better house pets. Working lines are bred for energy and drive. I really can't stress enough that dogs from working lines need a job to do.
And that's black and white Sheltie Cash posing for the camera while Gracie, the Tri-colored Sheltie, who's won a gajillion agility championships, plays it more low key.
And there were Border Collies Cassidy on the left and his sister Callie on the right. They look ready to go!