‘Going To The Dogs’

For those of you who look forward to the local dog shows each year, mark your calendars for next weekend. The shows, held by the Conewango Valley Kennel and the Olean Kennel Club, are much earlier this year. Instead of being held in mid-June, the shows will run Thursday through Sunday at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds in Dunkirk.

Besides conformation judging, there’ll also be obedience, rally, and, new this year, lure coursing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The coursing is presented by Lake Country Lure Coursers.

I love any sport that’s based on what a dog was bred to do, and in this case, lure coursing tests sight hounds on their ability to follow prey, or, in the case of the trials, a lure, which is generally a white plastic bag attached to a pulley system. The lure simulates the actions of a rabbit, darting here and there, making sharp turns that the dogs must follow. Two or three dogs of the same breed are typically run together, and each course is timed. In addition, the dogs are judged on how well they follow the lure, agility and speed. The competition levels go from Junior Courser to Lure Courser Excellent, and the course requirements increase with the different levels.

Eligible American Kennel Club breeds are Afghan Hound, Basenji, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Italian Greyhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound and Whippet.

Besides the official coursing trials, the Lake Country Lure Coursers club is also offering Coursing Ability Tests from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These tests are open to “any dog of any breed, including mixed-breeds, as long as it is at least 1-year-old and individually registered or listed with AKC.” Each dog runs alone and “must pursue a lure, completing the course with enthusiasm and without interruption within a given time. Dogs that pass the CAT three times will earn a Coursing Ability (CA) title. Ten passes and a dog earns a Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA) title, and 25 passes results in a Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX) title.”

The cost at these shows is $25 to run your dog. If you have an “All American” dog, you can list it with the AKC and be eligible to compete, not only in coursing, but in other performance events as well. They should have the forms at the test, but for more information, and a form to download, go to classic.akc.org/canine-partners/

Coursing is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Obedience and rally will mostly be mornings. Conformation judging is generally finished by 2 p.m., and then there’s the group judging and best in show. To help you locate your favorite breed and what time and in what ring that breed will be judged, go to www.infodog.com/showinfo/showmain.htm and click on the blue button that says “search by state.” Click on New York state, and then find either Conewango Valley Kennel Club or Olean Kennel Club on May 30, 31, June 1, 2 and click on the club. The judging schedule should be there and that will give you the information you need.

Parking each day is $5 per car. A three-day pass is $12, and a four-day pass is $15. Load up your car and enjoy a wonderful time “going to the dogs.”