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Man’s best friend ready to show furry pride

 - Annie Tietje/Staff Photo
— image credit: Annie Tietje/Staff Photo

PORT GAMBLE — The canine athletes preparing for the fourth annual Muddy Paws Agility Club of Kitsap dog agility competition are ready to strut their four-legged stuff, and it will definitely put tricks like “sit,” “stay” and “play dead” to shame. These dogs, accompanied by their owners, will be flying through obstacles of all kinds to prove they are the fastest and most agile the North End has ever seen.

Friday will feature the Australian Shepherd Club of America rules, and Saturday and Sunday officials will be judging using the North American Dog Agility Council standards. Each comes with its own course requirements.

“ASCA is a more real trial than NADAC,” said MudPACK Vice President Melody Glispie. She will be running two dogs over the weekend, 7-year-old Dalmatian Amie and her younger mixed-breed Mickey. “They’ll be in a few runs.”

MudPACK President Val Tangen will be bringing three of her dogs this year, Sydney, JoJo and Dudley. This will be JoJo’s first NADAC trial. Tangen said she has been entering her dogs in competitions since 1999, and when she moved to Kitsap County from Alaska two years ago she made sure to join the MudPACK.

“We’re hoping it’s not too hot, and everyone has a good time,” she said. “People in the area should come because the dogs love spectators. It’s all about the fun.”

More than 40 handlers have entered their canines in the ASCA trials, and 124 have signed up for the NADAC runs, which could mean up to 264 runs Friday and about 1,200 Saturday and Sunday, Glispie said.

“Some people run two or three dogs,” she said. “We’re also having a special NADAC run, the double shot tunnelers, where dogs run through a tunnel course two times, back-to-back. It goes really fast, and the dogs love the tunnels.”

In between courses, the pooches will be treated with all the care and pampering they’ve earned as heightened athletes in training. MudPACK members will be setting up special pools and hose areas in case the temperatures continue to soar, Tangen said.

“We’re going to have hoses attached to one of the houses, and pools they can flop around in,” she said. “The owners will definitely keep them in the shade, and some dogs have their own personal fans on their kennels. Some owners put sunscreen on their dogs’ noses if they are light colored.”

Glispie and Tangen ask visitors to leave their dogs at home and watch their children at all times. Children should not pet any of the dogs as they will be nervous. There will be vendors at the competitions, and Glispie and Tangen both guarantee fun will be had by all as the weekend goes to the dogs.

“People should definitely ask questions of the MudPACK members,” Tangen said. “We’ll have T-shirts on with the MudPACK symbol, and we are there to answer questions.”

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