Since the recent banning of the greyhound races in Florida (the 41st state to execute this ban) the world has begun to ask itself a question. Why dog sports? As time has gone on there’s less instances of dogs doing what they were bred to do. Hunt, guard, bait, terrorize, herd, sweep, chase…these were all things we put behind the over 300 breeds we created. However, most of our fond furry kids spend their days lounging about the house or begging for table scraps. Sure they get the occasional romp in the park, but it’s majority on-leash and we’ve limited their overall social interaction. Enter dog sports. Sanctioned events hosted by a club or training center to allow your dog a dose of mental stimulation. There are all kinds of cool sports out there for every breed you can think of. Sighthounds have lure coursing; sporting breeds have dock jumping and field trials; terriers have terrier trials, and we all know every breed gets down and dirty with agility, frisbee, and flyball. Sports are a way to stimulate your dog’s natural bred for abilities, and genuinely dogs that work are much happier. So, where did things become confusing? Our enjoyment. It can seem a tangled web when human beings get involved and those unfamiliar with sports question the welfare and happiness of the animal. From the outside looking in, it might seem as though dog sports are for personal gain. As a handler, I can totally see why that perception gets skewed. Most people don’t see the dedicated training and hours we put into our dogs. The money spent on going to seminars, clinics, and weekly group class. Let’s not forget the entry fees to compete at each event, which is to keep the organizations who host the sport up and running. The time taken to volunteer to set everything up and break it all down at the end of a weekend. The outside world sees the trophies, the ribbons, the cash prizes (which probably only help us break even)…and the dogs sleeping in crates. However, ask yourself, after a great sports match wouldn’t you just like to go to bed too? Satisfied that you were the bomb?
Dog sports enthusiasts do countless research on the best diet, joint supplements, massages, and vet care that will keep their dog thriving. Most sport dogs even compete into their teens, still as vibrant as puppies because their minds haven’t deteriorated from lack of action. There’s so much more that is put in for the dog and the dog alone than what is received after sweating your buns off from running. For us, that’s okay. Thousands spent, waking up at the crack of dawn, driving hundreds of miles is worth your dog’s smile and the thirty cent ribbon that says “we did it”… and most times, just their smile (because we don’t always win). We all play the game so that they can have fun. It’s all about them; it’s for the love of dog!