It's all fun and Games

By Anne-Marie Emerson

She's small, grey, neatly groomed (but with long whiskers) and is a Grand Champion.

She's Izzy the miniature schnauzer, and she was one of hundreds of dogs competing at the Masters Games dog handling events at Otamatea Reserve over the weekend.

Eight-year-old Izzy, fellow schnauzer Viper, and their owner Kathryn Snook came all the way from Christchurch to compete in a variety of events, including obedience, agility, rally, cross-country and fly. Half-way through the first day of competition, Izzy and Viper had already taken out first and second place in several events.

It's the first time the three have competed at the Wanganui Masters Games before, although they have been to the Dunedin Masters Games.

Ms Snook said she started doing dog handling when Izzy was six months old, and continued when Viper came along.

"They're such intelligent dogs and it really makes the most of their intelligence.

"They love doing it - we wouldn't be here if they didn't."

She said the most important thing for successful dog handling was the connection between the dog and her owner.

"I'm always playing games with the dogs and building that rapport."

Ms Snook said she did not train specifically for an event such as the Masters Games, as training with the dogs was an ongoing activity.

She said Izzy was so good she had now attained status as a Grand Champion in agility.

"It's the highest level you can achieve, and it's unusual for such a little dog."

Ms Snook confidently anticipated she and her two schnauzers would be leaving Wanganui this week with a clutch of medals.

"We're going to kick butt," she said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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