COVID-19 has derailed the best-laid schemes of mice and men — and their dogs — but on Saturday Capital Kennel Club of Juneau was able to have its first trials event since the pandemic began.
Obedience trials were possible thanks to a covered play area outside of Auke Bay Elementary School, the presence of a local United Kennel Club judge, masks and some cooperative weather that meant two solid walls and a roof provided adequate shelter for people and dogs alike.
“We’re just happy we pulled this off,” said Sandy Harris, club president. A trial planned for May had previously been canceled due to the coronavirus, she said.
Marty Phelan, whose dog Kaya competed Saturday, said club members had been practicing regularly outdoors for months and often using the covered play area. Under normal conditions, the kennel club rents out indoor spaces such as Mount Jumbo Gym.
“That’s our biggest challenge is finding somewhere,” Phelan said.
However, a mild morning meant neither howling wind nor puddles were going to be a distraction during obedience trials.
Obedience trials consist of a series of exercises performed at the command of a handler. Exercises performed Saturday included things like sitting, staying and heeling but also more complex actions like jumping over obstacles, retrieving items and lying still while another nearby dog performed exercises.
A total of eight dogs competed at three different levels —utility, open and novice —which club members said put the event on the smaller end of the spectrum.
The dogs that were present ranged in size with the largest being a Bernese mountain dog and the smallest a West Highland white terrier.
Jill Grose, who owns the Westie, said while Breckan did well at lower levels of obedience trials some of the more advanced tasks Saturday proved to be too much for her dog. However, she wasn’t discouraged.
“I was pleased with the performance,” Grose said.
Abother of Grose’s Westies, Odin, wound up as the day’s lone qualifier with a 178 at the novice level.
Plus, Grose, like many other human participants at the event, said in a year that’s been exceptionally odd, it was just pleasant to do something fun that approached pre-coronavirus normal.
“It feels good just to be doing something in dog sports again,” Grose said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.