by Ivette White
This past weekend, Aug 10-11, 2019, dog and handlers from all over the region gathered on the cool coast of Northern California to test their agility skills at the UKI West Coast Cup under judge Francisco “Paco” Berjon from Mexico City. The UKI Cups allow dog and handler teams to earn byes for the UKI US Open which will be held in Jacksonville, FL in November.
UKI course design promotes fun, fast, challenges for both dogs and handlers. Logical lines for both large and small dogs while also challenging the handlers’ skills. Paco’s courses at the West Coast Cup did not disappoint! Handlers needed to have their running shoes on for these 120’ x 90’ courses. Not only did Paco’s courses create great challenges for handlers, they also created great spectating for everyone in attendance.
Handlers pushed themselves on every run, laying it all on the line in hopes of earning a bye for the US Open or one of the coveted spots on the podium. Handlers and spectators alike were cheering and congratulating teams after each run. No matter what the outcome everyone was leaving the ring with a smile on their faces, both human and canine, looking forward to the next course to test their skills. UKI’s focus on putting the needs and of dogs and competitors first promotes an atmosphere where competitors feel they are being heard and they are free to enjoy agility as it should be, a fast, fun, competitive sport.
It is hard to pick just one course from the weekend as a favorite, as all of Paco’s courses were full of subtle challenges and fast lines. Having said that, one course that sticks out in my mind from the weekend was Biathlon Jumping on Sunday. It had all the elements I love from UKI, lots of running, allowing the dogs to really extend and also the need for competitors to handle:
The fast opening with the straight tunnel provided lots of challenges for both small and large dogs. Competitors had to remain connected and set the dogs line throughout the entire course. There was no letting up for anyone. It was interesting to see the various handling choices each team executed. Some with success, other not. Regardless of outcome, dog and handlers were able to test their skills while being cheered by their peers. The final line on the course with the straight tunnel exit made for excellent spectating and lots of cheering for handlers to push for that last sprint.
This is my third year hosting the UKI West Coast Cup and I have enjoyed each year more and more. It is great to hear and see competitors having a great time running courses that challenge them and also let their dogs open up and really turn it up a notch. The fun and friendly battle for the podium also creates a great atmosphere. Our sport has evolved so much since I started 23 years ago. UKI is constantly changing to meet the needs of competitors and dog’s safety. I hope our event continues to grow as competitors realize the flavor of fun and competitiveness that UKI brings to our sport.