Sonic, a 2-year-old golden retriever, jumps over an obstacle Saturday during the Maybell Dog Agility Trials. His handler, Becky Wolf, said agility training is a great way to train and bond with an animal.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Sonic, a 2-year-old golden retriever, jumps over an obstacle Saturday during the Maybell Dog Agility Trials. His handler, Becky Wolf, said agility training is a great way to train and bond with an animal.

Dogs, handlers bond at Maybell Dog Agility Trials

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Sue Lackey signals her 2-year-old Schnauzer, Tobi, in the novice class Saturday at the Maybell Dog Agility Trials. About 30 dogs competed throughout the weekend.

Lucy, a 4-year-old Corgi, is missing an eye and has a bad knee.

“But, you should see her run,” her owner, Tammi Archibold, said with a smile.

Lucy earned several “Qs” Friday at the Maybell Dog Agility Trials, meaning her scores qualified her for points in the North American Dog Agility Council standings.

Archibold said few competitors look at where they finish in their class. Instead, they worry about points for the national standings and bonding with their animals.

“It’s a wonderful way to bond with your dog,” she said of agility competitions. “It’s a way to train your dog in a fun way. And the town is great, the people are great.”

The Maybell Dog Agility Trials took place Friday through Sunday, featuring about 30 dogs, whose handlers traveled from around the U.S. and Canada.

Before officials shut down Saturday’s competition due to rain, the elite, open and novice classes had the chance to run the course in an event called “chances.”

In “chances,” the dog’s handler has to remain a certain distance away from the dog while directing it toward the obstacles.

Lucy was sidelined due to a steady rain, because Archibold was worried about possible injuries.

So Rocky, Lucy’s two-year-old brother, took the spotlight during a brief lull in the storm.

But, Rocky inherited little of Lucy’s attentiveness.

He yipped excitedly and zipped past poles, which were one of the first obstacles.

He went over jumps in the wrong direction and ran in circles, skipping two jumps to speed through a tunnel, instead.

“He’s had better runs,” Archibold said. “He’s not very focused. He just gets really excited.”

This weekend’s event is one of three in a series at Maybell Park.

The first event took place Memorial Day weekend, and the third will take place June 18 to 20.

Despite the rain, Craig resident and event organizer Lori Visintainer said the event was enjoyable for both handlers and dogs.

“We always have fun,” she said, dressed in a bright yellow, full-length poncho.

Becky Wolf said she has attended the event for 7 years.

“It’s a great way to spend time with the dogs,” Wolf said. “It’s a bonding experience and you build that teamwork. It’s a very addicting sport.”

Wolf and many other competitors camp in or near Maybell Park and stay in the area for the duration of the series.

Archibold said she has been living out of her RV for five weeks.

While in Maybell, she spent her days practicing with Lucy and Rocky, attending local potlucks and exploring Northwest Colorado.

“It’s more than just a competition,” she said. “It’s a sport, but it’s a social culture, too.”

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