The Blacksburg Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the New River Valley Kennel Club, hosted the annual Festival of the Dog Sunday, giving dogs and their owners a chance to learn about and practice some of the events at official dog competitions.
Brooke Patterson and her Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Stitch and Titan, are quite experienced in activities like the agility course, which they completed at the festival.
“We’ve been competing for about ten years,” Patterson said. “And I’m addicted. I really enjoy it.”
Three of Patterson’s six dogs compete in tournaments. The Festival of the Dog is not an official competition, but she wanted to give Titan and Stitch a chance to practice their performance in public.
“If you ever want to compete, then it’s in public, and there are all sorts of smells and things to look at, and it’s great to have good distractions for the dogs,” she said.
These kinds of activities are also good for dogs’ health, Patterson added.
“It helps to keep them in shape,” she said. “With Stitch being 11, he goes swimming every so often just to keep in shape for these types of activities. And I try to keep him going as long as I can ’cause I love him so much.”
Proceeds from the event go towards the Blacksburg Dog Park, according to organizers.
“Some people don’t have any other way but the dog park to let their dogs off leash,” said Rosie Higdon, treasurer of the New River Valley Kennel Club. “And dogs do need to run.”
The Festival of the Dog, which is in its fifth year, has continued to expand, Higdon said. The event also features demonstrations to teach visitors about dog competitions, she added.
Dogs that compete need proper training, Patterson said.
“Look up a local teacher, and go see them every week,” Patterson said. “And you’ll have a lot of fun.”