MAN’S best friend will entertain visitors to this year’s Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg on the afternoon of Friday, June 3 and morning of Saturday, June 4 in the main arena.
Approximately 60 to 70 dogs of various sizes, breed and age are expected to vie for the 2016 Wuma KwaZulu-Natal Agility and Dog Jumping Championships over the two days.
Over the two days, agility handlers and dogs must negotiate obstacle courses while racing against the clock. Penalty faults are awarded for missing obstacles, dropping a pole or exceeding the course time limit. The fastest dog, with the least number of faults, is declared the winner.
A wide variety of dog breeds will be competing over the two days. The most popular is the Border Collie, but there will also be Australian Shepherds, Poodles, German Shepherds, Schnauzers, Shelties, Kelpies, Chinese Crested and Havanese.
A number of dogs that have qualified for the South African Agility Championships will also be entering.
Agility is designed to demonstrate man’s best friends’ willingness to work with their handlers as well as show their nimble nature and versatility over a challenging course of obstacles that include tunnels, jumps, and weave poles. It is an athletic event for both handler and dog that requires conditioning, concentration, training and most importantly teamwork.
The handler’s influence is limited to voice, movements and body language with the dog running off-leash without food and/or toys as motivation.
Handlers and dogs will be competing for top honours in Contact Agility, Non-Contact Agility and Dog Jumping. Each discipline caters for three different sizes of dogs. The courses are complicated so that it is not possible for the dog to complete it without human guidance and thus handlers are allowed to walk through prior to the competition in order to evaluate and decide on strategies.
Other attractions during the two-day event include a demonstration by the Funda Nenja display team on the Friday and a display by “Dancing with Dogs in Durban” on the Saturday.
The Funda Nenja Township Dog Training Initiative in Mpophomeni, near Howick, has grown exponentially since its inception in 2009 and has become an important part of the community with approximately 100 children and their dogs congregating each Friday afternoon to partake in the dog-training exercises under the supervision of about 20 volunteers. To be part of the display team is the culmination of the hard work and dedication.
For more information on Funda Nenja, check out http://www.fundanenja.co.za
Dog dancing is a great activity for dogs and handlers of all ages and athletic ability. All that is needed is a bond with a dog, a love of music and desire to have fun.
There are two categories – the more popular musical freestyle where any movement is allowed and the more disciplined heelwork to music. There are various levels including Golden Oldies (dogs over nine years or handlers over 60 years) and Handy Dandy (for disabled dogs or handlers).
The South African Dog Dancing Association (SADDA) has a club in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town.vFor more information check out dogdancing.co.za or http://www.facebook.com/Dancingwithdogsindurban
Entry to the Royal Show is R60 for adults and R40 for children under 12 and pensioners. Entry is R40 for everyone on Wednesday, June 1.