A trio of dogs and their handlers did the Nicola Valley proud at the 2015 B.C./Yukon Regional Agility Championships, held at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley on the June 6 weekend. Over 375 dogs took part in the trials.

The three local teams consisted of Val Harris and her toy poodle Kirby, Marlene Allgrove and her Jack Russell terrier Austin, and Quilchena’s Robin Brodie and her collie-cross Peso.

All three partnerships train with Maureen Sanderson at the Iron Mountain K-9 Agility Centre located 15 kilometres southeast of Merritt.

Competing in the 6” specials division, Harris and Kirby finished 2nd overall in a field of 14 competitors.

Allgrove and Austin also achieved a podium finish, placing 3rd overall in the 6” Veteran DD division.

In one of the most competitive classes at the three-day championships with 42 entries, Brodie and Peso finished 10th overall in the 16” regular division.

Highlighting the results were a pair of first-place finishes by Kirby and Austin in the opening Gambler run on Saturday.

Harris has owned five-year-old Kirby for three-and- a-half years, and has been doing agility with him for two of those years.

“He absolutely loves it,” Harris said. “All the dogs do. It’s a great activity to do with your pet. You form an incredible bond and have a lot of fun at the same time.”

Harris went on to explain that all types of dog breeds take part in agility competitions — from Great Danes to shih tzus and cocker spaniels.

“Dogs are placed in classes or divisions based on their (jump) height. There are five divisions, starting at 6” and going up to 26. You can ‘specialize’ your dog if you think the height is too much.”

Austin is a 10-year-old specialized dog.

“Because of his age and weight, he’s been dropped down to 6”,” explained Allgrove.

Allgrove and Austin have been a partnership for several years.

“I got him from Katie Garthwaite up on Mammit Lake Road. He’s born and bred in the Nicola Valley,” Allgrove said.

The twosome competed in the Canadian championships in Leduc, Alta. two years and placed sixth.

Allgrove loves the challenges that agility competitions present.

“You have to memorize all these courses, and plan where you’re going to stand. It’s really team work.

“What you teach your dog in agility classes is very transferable to everyday situations in and around the home.”

Like Harris and Kirby, Brodie and five-year-old Peso have been doing agility together for two years.

“Even if you don’t compete, it’s a great thing to do. It brings out the confidence in a dog, and allows for great bonding between dog and owner,” Brodie said.

All three dog handlers love the positive social aspect of agility trials.

“Everyone’s so friendly and supportive,” Harris said. “They encourage and cheer you on.”

“Everybody gets along,” Allgrove added. “You compete with people, not against them. You can’t be too competitive, because the dogs just get stressed out.”

Kirby, Austin and Peso have all acquired enough points to qualify for the Canadian Agility Championships, which are being held this year at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby from August 19 to 24.

Harris and Kirby will not be able to attend because of a planned trip to the Maritimes; however, Allgrove and Brodie have circled the date on their calendar.

“At Nationals, there’ll be entries from every province,” Brodie said. “Some of the entries will have competed for Canada at the World Championships in Italy earlier in June. To watch the top dogs go is such a thrill.”