Dogs showcase guts and glory in canine sports
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Eventing. Jumping. Racing. Diving. With the Rio Olympics in full swing, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the world of competitive dog sports, which often parallel those of their human counterparts and require just as much athletic ability, stamina, speed and agility. Top dog contestants come in all shapes and sizes, but the two things they have in common -- with each other and with human athletes -- are heart and hustle.
Take Wren. The 10-inch papillon excels at the highest levels of her sport, agility. With tight turns and at top speed she races around a course that includes bar jumps, tire jumps, weave poles, a teeter-totter -- the element that can really slow a tiny dog because it tips downward more slowly -- an A-frame and tunnels. In the six height classes, from 8-inch (Wren's category) to 26-inch, the dog with the fastest time and fewest faults wins. Wren, owned and handled by Betsey Lynch of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has had big wins in her class in the past year, including American Kennel Club's National Agility Championship, USDAA Cynosport Performance Grand Prix and Westminster Masters Agility Championship.
Any dog can compete in agility, but the dogs with speed and drive tend to be the ones at the top of the charts. Current contenders include Sierra, a Shetland sheepdog, in the 12-inch class; Hottie, a border collie, in the 16-inch class; Mr. T, a golden retriever, in the 20-inch class; Skillz, a border collie, in the 24-inch class; and Pace, a border collie, in the 26-inch class.
The best agility dogs from more than 35 countries will gather in Zaragoza, Spain, Sept. 22 through 25 to compete in the 21st Agility World Championship, where they'll run on state-of-the-art artificial turf specially ordered for the event. Closer to home, check out the North American Dog Agility Council Championships, held Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 in South Jordan, Utah.
Flyball, the fastest-growing canine team sport, is a relay race popular around the world. Teams of four to six dogs race over four hurdles, pounce on a spring-loaded box to release a tennis ball and race back over the hurdles with it before the next dog begins. Each dog has a handler, and line coaches help to improve the team's performance.
Any dog who's fast and loves tennis balls can play, but small dogs have a special role. They can be a team's secret weapon because jump height, ranging from 7 to 14 inches, is determined by the height of the team's smallest dog. A team with a "height dog," as the shorties are known, benefits because the larger dogs get to jump lower hurdles.
Record-holders in the sport include a mixed breed named Everest, with a run of 3.417 seconds in United Flyball League International's Singles race, in which dogs run against the clock, and a team called Border Patrol, made up of mixed breeds Troy, Banshee, Epic and Syber. They hold the current North American Flyball Association Regular record of 14.433 seconds, set June 5, 2016, in Rockton, Ontario, Canada. The NAFA CanAm Classic is Oct. 7 through 9 in Indianapolis. The UFLI Tournament of Champions takes place Oct. 21 through 23 in Gray Summit, Missouri, near St. Louis.
Perhaps the nearest canine equivalent to the Olympics is the Incredible Dog Challenge, hosted by Purina Pro Plan. Events include dock-diving, catching flying discs, surfing and more. In the West Coast Challenge, an American Eskimo Dog named Ziggy won the Small Dog Surf Event, and a Belgian malinois named Saphira set a new world record with a 25-foot-6-inch jump in the Fetch It event. The IDC National Finals take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 at Purina Farms in St. Louis.
Cat eats fast,
Q: My 3-year-old female cat gets a quarter of a can of wet and 1 tablespoon dry food for dinner. She gets the same thing for breakfast, but she frequently throws it up. She's on a diet, so we switched to meat in the morning. She used to get 1 tablespoon every 10 minutes, for a total of three, because she'd throw up if we gave it all at once. I know that she eats too fast. She eats grain-free, holistic foods. Is there anything else we can try? -- via Facebook
A: Cats have a reputation for upchucking, and their anatomy allows them to vomit easily, but it's really not normal for them to do so. If your cat is throwing up on a regular basis -- more than once a week -- it's a good sign that she needs to see the veterinarian to rule out a physical cause for the problem. Throwing up too often can have a cat suffering dehydration quicker than he can twitch a whisker.
Some of the common reasons cats vomit are hairballs and intestinal worms. They may also throw up after nibbling on grass or plants, eating too quickly or from digestive upset after being switched too quickly to a new diet. Some cats are allergic to certain ingredients in their food. More serious causes of vomiting include hyperthyroidism and diseases of the digestive tract. If your cat is a senior, frequent vomiting may suggest kidney disease.
Be prepared to tell your veterinarian what food your cat eats, how often she vomits (keep a record for a week or so), how soon after eating she vomits, whether she goes outside or has access to indoor plants and what the vomit looks like. If you can bring a sample, so much the better. If your veterinarian rules out a health problem, try one of the "slow food" dishes to prevent her from gobbling. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
"Heat dome" brings
hot pavement woes
-- In the dog days of summer -- that would be now -- it's not unusual for veterinary hospitals to see paw burns on a frequent basis. Hot asphalt and pavement can cause severe burns to a dog's paw pads, injuries that can take weeks to heal. Other surfaces that can become hot and cause injury include wood, sand and metal -- car truck beds, for instance. They can reach temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and stay hot for hours. Place your hand flat on pavement and hold it there for 10 seconds. If the heat is painful to you, it's too hot for your dog.
-- Want a cat to leave you alone? The last thing you should do is ignore him. Cats are attracted to people who don't make them nervous. If given a choice, they're always going to head for the person who isn't looking at them or trying to pet them because, obviously, that person has proper cat manners and knows not to stare or make the first approach. If you do want a cat's attention, play hard to get. He'll love you for it.
-- With Labor Day coming up quickly, you may be planning a hiking or camping trip that includes your dog. The American Veterinary Medical Association has five tips to help you and your dog stay healthy. Use species-specific products to protect yourself and your dog from mosquito, tick and other insect bites. Check your dog for ticks at least once a day, and remove them promptly. Prevent your dog from touching or eating sick wildlife or birds. Make sure your dog's rabies vaccination is up to date. Carry a first-aid kit with appropriate supplies for both of you. Got an adventure cat? Same rules apply. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.