Spectators invited to check out new dog sporting event in Langley

Langley hosts second-only Canadian mixed-breed dog trials at H.D. Stafford school this weekend.

For only the second time in Canadian history, a new dog event is being held this weekend – and it’s being held at H.D. Stafford Middle School in Langley.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Kennel Club introduced the first sanctioned Sprinter event north of the 49th Parallel.

The first session was held in Edmonton on July 1, and the next event is happening this Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15 in Langley.

These events – open to dogs of all ages (over one year), breeds (including mixes), and abilities – are not a competition.

Instead, it is fun timed event that lets a dog run – not head-to-head against other dogs but on its own against a clock – to see how fast it can complete the 100-metre dash chasing a piece of plastic down a dedicated lane, explained Ann Fessenden.

The Aldergrove woman has been running greyhounds for 45 years, and said she’s excited to see such an open and all-inclusive event come to Canada, and especially to Langley.

There’s going to be every type of dog – from Scottish deerhounds to Afghans, chihuahuas to whippets, greyhounds to retrievers, and everything in between – participating, said the 75-year-old who currently has six of her own greyhounds.

Fessenden will be running two of her dogs this weekend, her youngest pup, who is two years old, and her oldest, which is 10 years old.

They’ll be among roughly 50 dogs participating, with two trials being held each of the days (which translates to about 120 runs each day).

With a drop in numbers in purebred competitions and trials, Fessenden is excited to see more effort spent encouraging mixed-breed events that are more encompassing of all types of dogs and their humans.

She expects to about 40 per cent of this weekend’s participants will be mixed-breed dogs.

She noted that about half of the entrants in this weekend’s trials are from the Langley area, and she hopes it will grow as more local people learn of the movement.

Recognizing the uptake in this dog sporting event in the U.S. a few years back, Fessenden started up some unofficial, fun running events locally. As it became more popular, a few “younger” people stepped up and offered to organize.

Fessenden was delighted to see all those efforts culminate in this Sprinter event this weekend, noting that another such event is being organized for mid-August, and again it is expected to be hosted in or around Langley.

This weekend’s outdoor event is being held at Stafford, 20441 Grade Cres., from 9 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. each day. Spectators are welcome.

To find out more about participating in this more open form of dog sport in the area, Fessenden encourages people to stop by on the weekend and talk with organizers.

Or, they can visit the Cascadia Coursing Facebook page for contact information and times of events and practices.

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Langley’s Ann Fessenden has been running dogs for 45 years, including some she recently ran during a “lure course” event, where dogs run together. In this weekend’s event dogs run one at a time. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley’s Ann Fessenden has been running dogs for 45 years, including some she recently ran during a “lure course” event, where dogs run together. In this weekend’s event dogs run one at a time. (Special to the Langley Advance)

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