iN PHOTOS: Dogs literally jumping through hoops at Okanagan agility course - InfoNews

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iN PHOTOS: Dogs literally jumping through hoops at Okanagan agility course

Talk about hoop dreams.
May 31, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - Jan Johnson stands in the middle of a barn filled with obstacles, ramps and tubes. Her dog Morocco sits near the barn entrance, ready to go. Johnson gives Morocco the signal and he's off.

Morocco flies across the dirt and leaps over a series of horizontal poles, letting out a quick yip with every jump. Johnson guides Morocco as he weaves between vertical poles, climbs onto a see-saw, and navigates through tunnels. For the big finish, Morocco shoots through a hanging wooden loop and bounds over more horizontal poles. Johnson cheers her pet on for his performance.

Morocco is one of dozens of dogs who train and compete with the Central Okanagan Dog Agility Club every week. The popular organization provides a fun and healthy hobby for pets and their owners. For the last 20 years it's grown into a powerhouse.

Speed and maneuverability is key when running through the vertical poles.
Speed and maneuverability is key when running through the vertical poles.

"We're the go-to club," said Johnson, who's the group's president. "We have just under 100 members."

Johnson has been with the club for 18 years, first learning about it in a newspaper. She's trained three dogs how to navigate a series of obstacles with grace and speed. She says every pet is different, although a general rule is positive reinforcement.

"You want them to be willing to try again," she said. "You don't want them shutting down. They clue in very quickly."

Lenore Trudel, a club member, said a key to training dogs is finding a type of food they'd do almost anything to get.

"Getting the attention of the dogs is the hardest part," she said.

Coming out on the other side.
Coming out on the other side.

Johnson, Trudel and dozens of members fill the agility training barn on Bulman Road near the Kelowna airport every week all year long. Members often act like makeshift NASCAR crews, rushing onto the obstacle course to adjust pole heights for certain dogs.

Up and over.
Up and over.

Johnson said certain dogs can only jump so high without hurting their legs, so finding the right pole height is crucial.

Dog agility training is a hot ticket. The club's been so successful that they've had to put aspiring members on a waiting list or simply turn them away.

If you want to see the dogs in action, you can check out a live demonstration at the Waterfront Park near the casino parkade at 11 a.m. during the Canada Day celebrations on July 1.

Lenore Trudel's dog Siri can be a little camera shy.
Lenore Trudel's dog Siri can be a little camera shy.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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