For only the second time in Canadian history, a new dog event was held this past weekend – and it was hosted at H.D. Stafford Middle School in Langley.
Earlier this month, the Canadian Kennel Club introduced the first sanctioned Sprinter event north of the 49th Parallel.
The first session was held in Edmonton on July 1, and the next was Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15 in Langley.
These events – open to dogs of all ages (over one year), breeds (including mixes), and abilities – are not a competition.
Instead, it is fun timed event that lets a dog run – not head-to-head against other dogs but on its own against a clock – to see how fast it can complete the 100-metre dash chasing a piece of plastic down a dedicated lane, explained Ann Fessenden.
The Aldergrove woman has been running greyhounds for 45 years, and said she’s excited to see such an open and all-inclusive event come to Canada, and especially to Langley.
There was every type of dog – from Scottish deerhounds to Afghans, chihuahuas to whippets, greyhounds to retrievers, and everything in between – participating, said the 75-year-old who currently has six of her own greyhounds.
Fessenden ran two of her dogs this weekend, her youngest pup, who is two years old, and her oldest, which is 10 years old.
They were among roughly 85 dogs that participated in two trials a day over the two-day event.
With a drop in numbers in purebred competitions and trials, Fessenden is excited to see more effort spent encouraging mixed-breed events that are more encompassing of all types of dogs and their humans.
She estimated that about 40 per cent of participants were mixed-breed dogs.
She also noted that about half of the entrants in trials are from the Langley area, while some came from as far away as Bellingham.
Fassenden hopes to see the new sport grow as more local people learn of the movement.
Recognizing the uptake in this dog sporting event in the U.S. a few years back, Fessenden started up some unofficial, fun running events locally.
As it became more popular, a few “younger” people stepped up and offered to organize.
Fessenden was delighted to see all those efforts culminate in this Sprinter event this weekend, noting that another such event is being organized for mid-August, and again it is expected to be hosted in or around Langley.
To find out more about the Sprinter dog sport in this region, Fessenden encourages people to visit the Cascadia Coursing Facebook.