THREE dogs are in the running to give their owners the most sparkling Christmas present of all – a crystal medal marking their win at a top competition.
Alan Wildman, his son Adam and Anya Westland are spending this weekend at the Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes, billed as one of the most prestigious dog agility competitions in the country, in London’s West End.
All three competitors are from Wyre (Lancs) Agility Club.
Anya, of Gillow Park in Little Eccleston, said Olympia was the “crème de la crème” of dog shows.
She said: “It’s like our Olympics.
“It’s rare to have three dogs going to Olympia from the same club, and even more unusual to have three of us qualify from the same club for three separate events. It’s a real first.”
All three contestants agree Olympia is the show to win, as the dogs will be competing against the top canines in the country.
Anya, 46, added: “It’s really hard getting into London in the first place; anything we do on the day will just be a bonus.”
But the experience is nothing new for 16-year-old Adam, who became Olympia’s youngest winner in 2008, aged 12, with his Australian kelpie, Zoom.
Adam has been involved in dog agility since he was two-years-old, thanks to his parents’ passion for the sport, and will be competing this year in the medium agility stakes.
He said: “We’ve been training hard and Zoom is ready for the competition.
“There will be a lot of good dogs there as well as mine, but I think we’re in with a chance. I’m just going to go out to have fun.”
Adam’s dad Alan, of Neville Avenue in Thornton, has qualified for the large agility stakes with his border collie, Mynx.
It will be Mynx’s first time at Olympia, but Alan, 45, is sure her speed will help her shine on the day.
He said: “Minx is our sixth agility dog. She’ll be three in January and has the fastest acceleration than any other dog I’ve had. I think she’ll be one of the youngest dogs to reach the final of the competition.
“Minx is like rocket fuel and has it in her to do well, but she needs to be perfect to run against 36 of the best dogs in the country.”
Anya’s border collie, a working sheepdog called Bree, will compete in the novice agility stakes.
She said: “She will be the best agility dog I’ve ever had, I’m just delighted with her.
“We’ve only been training for a year, but she’s fit, healthy and ready to go.”
Alan, who has been training dogs for around 20 years, said agility was a mixture of good breeding and quality training.
He added: “There are lots of debates about the breed of the dog and whether that makes them better at agility but you’re never going to get a Mini Metro to be a Ferrari, but then if you put me behind the wheel of a Ferrari you’re not going to do so well. You need training.”
He and Adam train twice a week, and attend competitions up and down the country most weekends.
Once they’ve completed Olympia, they plan to try for the European Open and the world qualifier next year.