June 12, 2010

Little dogs run for fun (and for K-9 Cancer)

Deb Cvilicek's Boston terrier, Al, demonstrates his skill in tunnel running
 Photos by Julie A. Jacob
By Julie A. Jacob
For RacinePost

Toy dogs may be small, but they have boundless energy and spunk. More than 50 little dogs showed off their speed and athletic skill and proved that they ca do everything the big dogs can do at the Roy’s Run’s for K-9 Cancer agility event this weekend at the Greater Racine Kennel Club on 6 Mile Road.

Agility is a popular canine sport, in which dogs, guided by signals from their human handlers, jump over fences, leap through tire rings, dash through nylon tunnels, scamper across elevated walks and trot up and down over teeter-totters. They are scored on how accurately and quickly they complete the obstacle course. Dogs who compile a certain number of points over several events are awarded agility titles.

“It’s a great bonding exercise,” said Deb Chvilicek, an agility trainer and chairperson of Roy’s Run,

Although the sport was originally designed for larger dogs, such as border collies, dogs of all sizes now participate in agility. Teacup agility events like this one, which was organized by the Happy Feet K-9 Agility Club in Oak Creek, are limited to dogs no more than 17” tall.

Al lost an ear to skin cancer,
but is now happy and  healthy

But as the name of the event indicates, Roy’s Run for K-9 Cancer had a purpose beyond the camaraderie and fun of an agility meet. Proceeds from the entry fees, concessions, and a raffle are being donated to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine for canine cancer research.

The event is named in honor of Chvilicek’s late Boston terrier, Roy, who died of a brain tumor in 2005. The meet is the first of what she plans to be yearly agility events to raise money for and awareness of canine cancer.

A few years after Roy passed away, another one of Chvilicek's three Boston terriers, Al, was diagnosed with skin cancer. After surgery that included the removal of his right ear, the disease was cured, and now Al is a healthy little dog who enjoys competing in agility events.

The trials continue Sunday, starting shortly after 9 a.m. and running until late afternoon, with a break for lunch.  There's no charge for spectators. Location is a grassy area at the Greater Racine Kennel Club, 6320 Six Mile Road.

Information on teacup dog agility classes and events is available at www.happyfeetagility.com. Donations to the UW School of Veterinary Medicine canine research fund can be made at www.uwfoundation.wisc.edu/giving?seq=9788

This dog enjoys a romp through the obstacle course.

Agility training is a great way for humans and their canine companions
to bond with each other as they work together to complete the course.

The obstacle course included an elevated dogwalk.