07 August 2008

Kennel Club International Dog Agility Show

Dog lovers are set to be dazzled by displays of deftness and determination from 2,500 of man's best friends – while shedding the pounds at the same time. The biggest show of its kind in the world, the three-day Kennel Club international dog agility show will provide a stage for pooches of all shapes and sizes to wow crowds at the East of England Showground in Alwalton, Peterborough, with their skills.

This year, the festival will have an extra half-day of competition on Friday, attracting 40 per cent more entries than 2007. The show will see a total of 18,000 runs, involving more than 2,500 dogs, competing in 18 rings. Competitors from 20 countries, as well as throughout the UK, will be working dogs of every size, breed and level of experience – from the world's champion agility dogs to those at their very first agility show. There is even a "have a go" ring for spectators to try out their own dogs on specially designed practise equipment under expert supervision.

This year, the Kennel Club is also launching its Fight the Flab with Fido campaign at the festival. Dog agility – a sport that involves see-saws, tunnels and jumps – is being signed up to in record numbers as more and more people come to see it as a way to combat obesity in both dogs and their owners. People who have lost up to half their body weight with the help of the sport will be at the event to demonstrate how they achieved their weight loss.

Kennel Club spokesperson Caroline Kisko said: "Dog agility is really growing in popularity, and no wonder when it's such a fantastic way to get fit – helping people to change their inactive lifestyles and giving the dogs the exercise they are often lacking as well.

"So many people have seen their lifestyle change completely as a result of taking up the sport and are reaping the benefits in terms of weight loss and improved health. There is no excuse not to get fit when you are being egged on by the eager eyes and wagging tail of your dog."

Research by the pet charity PDSA has found that one in three dogs in Britain is overweight and that peoples' lifestyles are affecting the health of our pets – with the areas with the most overweight people also seeing the highest levels of pet obesity.

Ms Kisko added: "However, dog agility – which is estimated to have 24,000 doggie followers in the UK – is a real answer to the problem. It is open and accessible to all dogs – from Chihuahuas to Great Danes – and to people, whatever their age, gender, or level of fitness.

Agility started in 1978 at Crufts, and the first demonstration was by a few enthusiasts who used a combination of working trials and show jumping equipment, and a little obedience. It was so popular that it returned to Crufts in 1979 as a formal competition.

[Source: The Evening Telegraph]