K-9s show skills

Freedom Newspapers: Mickey Winfield Rizzo, a 7-seven-year-old golden retriever, competes as a member of Clovis/Portales Kennel Club.

By Mickey Winfield

While cows were tied up just yards away, several Portales and Clovis canines had free run of green grass and challenging
obstacles with the Clovis/Portales Kennel Club on Friday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds.

Dee Durlande of Clovis has been training dogs for more than 20 years, including several years with
her 7-year-old golden retriever Rizzo.

“She hasn’t gotten any agility titles,” Durlande said. “She’s got mostly obedience titles and hunting,
retrieving titles.”

“All of these dogs are well trained,” said another dog trainer, Michael Rowley of Clovis. “They’re super-trained athletes. That’s what they do. You don’t ever see them fighting or anything like that.”

The Clovis/Portales Kennel Club includes about a dozen members, eight of whom are also in the training group. The club has been training dogs in agility for about four years. The group travels to competitions in Amarillo, Lubbock and Albuquerque.

“It’s incredible. When your dog finally figures out something difficult like the weave pole, it’s as good as a title, if you ask me,” Durland said. “That is one of the hardest things to do is to teach them to go through the weave poll.”

The weave pole is one of the many obstacles in which the dogs compete. The dog must weave through a series of poles until all poles are cleared.

At each competition there are between 350 and 600 dogs competing in the various events and obstacles.

“It takes some basic obedience and some off-leash control,” Durlande said. “But most of the dogs figure out in a hurry that it’s really enjoyable and so they really get to where they want to do it for no reward at all.”

Rowley’s 4-year-old border collie Maggie has won an advanced title in agility and a standard excellent title in various competitions.

“She just worked her way up,” Rowley said. “She’s in the top level now. She’s in the master’s agility level, and she’s competing with the best dogs.”

The kennel club decided to come to the Roosevelt County Fair for several reasons.

“People that live in Portales wanted us to do it, because we do it in Clovis, too, so we just picked up the opportunity to do it,” Durlande said.
Durlande also said that practicing at the county fair is great, because their dogs will face many of the fair’s distracting factors at their competitions.

“It’s good practice to get them out near crowds and noises and heat,” Durlande said.

The dogs also didn’t seem to mind the cattle tied up close to the demonstration area.

“We were a little nervous about the cattle here, because they herd, and she’s seen them so we’ll see. That will be a good test,” Rowley said.

Maggie had no comment about the cows.