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By Joyce Hughes — Event Secretary and PKC Treasurer

The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) is a new AKC coursing event for all dogs — purebreds and mixed breeds. It’s an event filled with amusement, entertainment and comical antics from our beloved canines. Pocatello Kennel Club, Inc. in Southeast Idaho, held its first CAT Event in mid-May. It has proven that chasing the lure can be a fun, healthy and entertaining activity for all breeds. What do the Basenji, Ibizan and Whippet Sighthounds have in common with a Dogue de’Bordeaux, Miniature Schnauzer, and an All American Mixed Breed? It’s the Thrill Of The Hunt! With the CAT event they now all have the ability to get off the porch and Run With The Big Dogs. This is a fun event for both dog and handler with no pressure to score the highest or run the fastest. It’s simply “Pure Fun” for everyone involved whether you have an entry or are relaxing while sitting on a blanket cheering others on.

Pocatello Kennel Club, Inc. is an All-Breed Club with members competing in: Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Agility and Lure Coursing and now CAT! Our club consists of many responsible dog owners who take their passion seriously and educate the community at opportunities like a CAT event. We only have a handful of coursing members who have a huge job putting together a trial successfully. We are fortunate to have members who work extremely well together and support each other’s chosen event — from the physical labor of setting-up and tearing-down equipment to just being there with the cheers, congratulations, or a “there’s always next time.” We linked our CAT event to a “Sho N’Go” put on by “Heart-to-Heart”, another local dog group. There was an Agility Course set up for people who wanted to see if Agility is an event they would like to participate in. It gave people an opportunity to walk a course or run their dogs. We also had a booth for Pocatello Kennel Club members to distribute responsible dog ownership information, answer AKC registration questions and discuss upcoming AKC events and local classes offered.

We didn’t know what to expect with our first CAT Event. We prepared ourselves by sending flyers to every veterinarian, dog facility, and groomer in the three-county area. We’re not a populated area, so every contact available is necessary. This is how we got the word out that there was an exciting “new game in town” available to all dogs including mixed-breeds. This sport reaches out to a more diverse group of canines and humans than we have previously been able to attract.

I received thirty pre-entries. I was elated that we would have a successful turn-out. I was not prepared for what was to happen once we got on the field at 8:00 am. The Day-Of Entry lines were getting longer and longer. We had a hundred entries! Thirty-six entries were Canine Partners. Eighteen different breeds made up the remaining 65 entries. People came from as far away as California, Utah, and Colorado. I scheduled two events, one the morning and one in the afternoon, so folks could get two-legs toward their first title. Things ran smoothly once we got the entry process completed. There is a lot of paperwork involved with a lure coursing trial. I found holding a CAT event independent of a trial reduced the secretary’s workload and allowed me to enjoy watching the dogs. It was exciting to hear the first “Tally Ho.” The day was lovely with sunshine and temperatures good for the dogs in the low seventies with a stiff breeze. By the last run of the day the wind had picked up and we feared the tiny Papillion would be blown away. Instead, she finished her run to the thundering roars from the crowd; or maybe the thunder was from the clouds overhead that held off the rain until the Event was over at exactly 4:00 pm. There were no injuries to dogs or humans thanks to the diligent event committee who are always Safety First. Most of all I want to thanks the entire Pocatello Kennel Club who worked alongside us with equal enthusiasm and excitement to make sure the future holds many more CAT Events.

From the Club’s point of view, we are very pleased with this event. It provided us a community outreach opportunity by attracting an audience of dog owners, many of them new to the Club. Plus we enjoyed ourselves and made a little money to boot. Thank You to the AKC for initiating an event that everyone and every canine can enjoy. And a special thanks to Bob Mason, AKC Field Representative, for providing advice that will be helpful for our future CAT Events.

The Club passed around a notebook where participants could record their thoughts. The comments reflect the outward appearance — people having a good time. Here are some of the comments:

  • “The energy at the event is phenomenal. We enjoyed the entire day.”
  • “I thought I had really smart dogs but here they are screaming with excitement to chase an empty plastic bag. Who knew?”
  • “I think it’s fantastic to have more fun athletic activities for all dogs to do. It’s been great to see so much enthusiasm from such a wide variety of dogs.”
  • “I love watching all the different breeds getting a chance to chase the lure. This is a great event to get to know new breeds and bond with your own dog.”
  • “My dogs are thrilled to be able to run in this event. Thank you AKC for creating another activity for all dogs to play in!”
  • “This was our first exposure to lure coursing. Great fun for both me and my dog.”
  • “This is our first opportunity to participate in something like lure coursing. What great fun for dogs, owners and spectators.”
  • “This was a blast and my dog loved it.”
  • “Lure coursing is really cool. The CAT is a neat event for dogs and people.”
  • “Such nice people. I think this is a great event for all dogs.”