It’s the Yukon Dog Puller Championship, but as the only event of its kind in Canada, it’s kind of like a national championship.
Approximately 24 dogs and their owners took part in the third annual championship, hosted by Yukon’s Predators Dog Puller Sport Athletic League, in Whitehorse’s Shipyards Park on June 3.
“We had a really good turnout … lots of new dogs. We had lots of puppies, which is an important part as well because we’d like the dogs to start really early,” said Predators president Erika Rozsa-Atkinson. “I started my puppy at 10 weeks on the puller. If people start early, then they won’t have behaviour problems with their dogs because they’ll be able to channel the energy and create motivation, and have a good, calm, happy dog.”
The sport, which was invented in Ukraine, features two events. One is a two-directional retrieve competition in which dogs chase purple rings that roll and bounce energetically. The other is a competition in which dogs jump to grab a ring from the trainer’s one hand, let go to grab the ring in the trainer’s other hand, over and over again in a set time.
Szotyi, a Hungarian Mudi belonging to Whitehorse’s Renata Lendvai, was named grand champion.
“I feel good. I’m really happy to be here and I worked hard for this, so I’m happy,” said Lendvai. “I try to do this every day because he has lots of energy and it’s a really good way to get him tired.”
Szotyi has come a long way. The 20-month-old Mudi, who was competing in the large dog cagtegory, didn’t even make the podium at last year’s championship.
“He didn’t place. He did the running event and Erika had to pick him up because he was trying to make trouble with the other dogs,” said Lendvai.
Barley, a Labrador belonging to Cathy McNeil, placed second, and Lily, a German shepherd belonging to Carol Foster, placed third.
Gordon Rozsa’s German shepherd, Lucian, won the puppy category.
Debbie Last’s terrier, Casey, took first in the small dog category.
Stephanie Campbell’s Great Dane, Koda, was top dog in the heavy weight category.
The Predators hosted the first-ever puller competition in North America at the inaugural event in 2015.
“I would be really happy with people coming and watching because it’s … almost hypnotizing when a dog is working like this,” said Rozsa-Atkinson. “People are just not used to coming out to these sort of things. So many people own dogs in Whitehorse, it would be so great for them to see it.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org