Dog Sports: K9 Gaming

Usually, the term ‘sports’  is basically understood as a skillful athletic activity involving competition and played for the purpose of relaxation or amusement to mankind. On a general note, we tend to overlook the fact that sport is not limited to human race only. Saying this, you might be reminded of Polo, horse racing or the traditional bullfighting; but the plan here is to divert your attention towards dog sports. Till date, dog sports are known to exist in such numbers that their listing makes a long queue of names. Tragically, the awareness level about which remains minuscule.

There is no denial for the fact that Man’s never-ending quest to coin his superiority over all surviving life forms has often blown their existence into a jeopardizing fall. Dog fighting, deer hunting and hound coursing; some grim and bloody games invented in ancient times (perhaps by some kill worshipping bunch) were ultimately shooed off in shame. Hunting Act 2004 lashed out the Waterloo Cup that used to be run as a tournament between 64 galloping Greyhounds every year in UK. 2005 saw the last occurring of this biggest hare coursing event rightly termed as “celebration of cruelty”. Thanks to the noble leagues against bloodthirsty sports, we can confidently discuss the amusing fun sports that contestants participate in now on international levels. This is to their credit.

Schutzhund (meaning protection dog in German) is the quintessential type of sport followed to test a dog’s ability to join police, rescue team or as a sniffer dog. For all the protection sports; tracking, obedience and protection are broadly the three phases of test with each phase judged on a 100-point scale passing which the dog is awarded one of the titles: SchH1, SchH2 or SchH3 (most advanced). Aggression or fear can immediately disqualify any dog at any point of the test or earn them poor scores. Using its scenting ability, a competing dog has to trail down an invisible complex maze and find out all the small articles in an open field; after which its accuracy and obedience is put to test judged on the given command’s responsiveness and lastly, supposed to display its caliber to protect its handler by searching an attacking/hiding/escaping ‘decoy’ (wearing a thick padded sleeve) and biting his padded sleeve. 70 for tracking and obedience and 80 for protection are the minimum scores required to clear the test.

French Ring Sport shares common elements with Schutzhund and Belgian Ring but here, a dog qualifies to participate only when it passes Certificate of Sociability and Aptitude for Work temperament test and the earned titles here are called: Ring I, II or III.

Agility field (30 by 30m) comprises of an abstruse course of hurdles like tunnels, titter-totters, tire jump, A-frame, winged jump, dog walk, wingless jump, weave poles or chute. Dogs participating in agility races need to finish this course in a strictly specified order of obstacles with direction of only voice or action from its handler. No cookie rewards or petting is permitted during competing any of the above mentioned sports.

A dock 24 inches above the water surface with at least 4 feet pool of water underneath it constitutes the stage to perform Dock jumping; a long jump competition where each dog is provoked to jump off the dock for a long distance by use of a toy (which is not required to be chased). The current world record is 28’10’’ held strong by Kevin Meese from Baltimore.

Schutzhund, water rescue, agility events, tracking trail, dock jumping and French ring sport are the healthiest categories of dog sports practiced and on a broader note, being beneficial for both mankind and dogs, makes them justifiably acceptable. Fondly called as “Man’s most loyal friend”, modern age dogs with such lessons at their bay by means of all these sports; are aiding revolutionary hospitals in sniffing cancer, guiding blind hostel/school inmates, paying a major contribution in police and bomb squads and definitely winning glory to their race and adding much more meaning to ‘a dog’s life’.

Ontario Dog Sports is one of those highly enthusiastic groups that perpetually keep events lined up for almost every week of the 12 months. Flyball tournaments, Schutzhund Championships, Disc Dog Canada (Canadian – World Championship Qualifier), DockDogs; are literally only to name less than a handful. Think detailed, competitive and extensive training workshops for the canine champs and their trainers about each sport; you find it all here. Did you imagine those little paws shake to some music in freestyle? Heelwork, Waltz, Rock and Roll, Hip hop, Salsa and “do a robot” are seriously the forms of dance that canines compete in events organized by Musical Canine Sports International (the first ones to begin the culture) and numerous others, for example, World Canine Freestyle Organization. Wiener Nationals, Teacup Dogs Agility Association, ESPN Great Outdoor Games and United Kennel Club are other giant distinguished foundations that have been continually updating their list of hosted sports/training and nurturing their tradition to preserve healthy dog sporting. These are just few to name for information sake but there are hundreds of passionate groups around the globe today who are making the most they can to puff this culture in their attempt to stop cruelty against animals and raise the bar of love towards them. To caress their good being as much in capacity in intention to perk up the performance points, unbelievable products are manufactured like K9 micronutrient enriched power snacks, K-9 defender body armor (promises same level of protection available to any officer) and even gum massager.

A room for opinion on this topic will stir controversies with one segment terming the increasing trend of sports amongst dogs as heartless and yet another mode of cruel entertainment politically devised by men. Others would contemplate this as a positive initiative; hopeful to push perspectives to regard dogs as life forms much more respectable than the most common meaning drawn out of their name. People are opting for responsible breeding of their beloved pets to bring up good breed pups that futuristically might roar into being a well-trained brand new sports star icon.

Karnika Palwa