Dog Agility Competition Visits US for First Time

International contest invades Will Rogers

We are use to seeing animal athletes take center stage at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, but the venue is hosting a competition over the next four days that has never been held in the United States.

The IFCS Dog Agility World Championships and the U.S. Dog Agility Association have taken over the J.R. Watt Arena. Teams from the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Hungry, Australia and New Zealand are all competing.

Bronwen Burnette, of Team New Zealand, was preparing Thursday for what she'll do with man's best friend during her first IFCS championship.

"The thing I love most is actually meeting all the people, the like-minded people,"she said.

And not just people with similar passions -- she is also meeting people with similar names.

"My name is also Bronwynn," said Bronwynn Armstrong, of McKinney.

The two share the pronunciation of their rare Welsh name, not the spelling. But they also now share a dog.

Grissom, Armstrong's collie, is being loaned out to Team New Zealand and Burnette because a quarantine in Australia and New Zealand forced those teams to leave their animals at home.

"They put a plea out on the Internet and asked if there were any dogs available to run to other handlers and would you be willing to loan your dog out," Armstrong said. "And I said, 'Yes.'"

Grissom is actually Burnette's fourth loaner dog.

"I've basically had 15 minutes running this dog," she said.

The first two dogs weren't good matches, and the third came up lame. But Grissom and Burnette seem to be working well together.

"Each day, we'll be bonding more and more, so watch out for us on Sunday," she said.

And as Armstrong and Burnette readied for Grissom's run on Thursday's USDAA competition, there was little doubt about lending a helping hand -- or, in this case, a dog.

"It's just something you do -- you help your fellow competitors out," Armstrong said. "Now, I still root for my American friends, but you know I'm also a New Zealander."

Admission is $5 per day or $10 for a three-day pass.

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