Best in show
Canine competitors from near and far come to Tulsa for the 2013 AKC National Agility, Obedience and Rally Championships.
Handler Chris Hatchett will lead her 11-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Zoe, left, in competition at this month’s American Kennel Club national championship. Hatchett’s other dogs, Zar’n and Ziva, will not compete this year.
Zoe is 11 years old. She is sharply intelligent, extremely loyal and a highly competitive athlete. This month, she will compete against many of her peers at the national championship level.
Zoe is a tri-color Shetland sheepdog. Her owner and handler, Chris Hatchett, teaches the “Advanced Skills Agility” course at the Tulsa Dog Training Club, but it was Zoe who first introduced Chris to the world of canine competitive agility.
“I’ve had shelties all my life, but Zoe was the first one I formally trained in obedience courses,” Hatchett says. “She was the only one in her puppy class that would run through the tunnels. She seemed to be having so much fun. I was hooked because she was so good.”
Hatchett and Zoe began traveling cross-country to American Kennel Club competitions and first qualified for the national agility competition in 2006. Competing at nationals requires a dog to achieve first-place awards in many qualifying competitions, and Zoe has “won hundreds, if not thousands, of first-place awards,” Hatchett says. In 2011, Zoe scored 32nd out of 250 dogs competing in the national competition’s regular division; currently, she is the highest-ranking dog in Oklahoma.
AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson says the competition in Tulsa will be unique because “this is the first year we are combining the agility, obedience and rally competitions into one national event.” AKC is anticipating approximately 1,000 dogs to compete from all over the United States and Canada, Peterson adds.
Agility events (March 15-17) feature dogs in races against the clock through tunnels, weave poles and jumps.
“It’s as exciting as any other competition you’ve ever seen,” Hatchett says.
The rally event (March 15) is new to AKC competition. Peterson describes it as “a hybrid of obedience and agility.” During the rally competition, the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of 10-20 designated stations requiring different demonstrated skills. Elements include “weaving through cones or over jumps, and some aspects of obedience, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’ or ‘come’ on command,” she says.
Obedience events (March 16 and 17) vary from highlighting traditional commands to more advanced commands, such as asking dogs to pick out gloves.
“These dogs can do things you don’t think a dog can do,” Hatchett says.
The events are open to pure-bred and mixed-breed dogs that have met the qualifying standards. Hatchett and Peterson agree that border collies’ and Shetland sheepdogs’ intelligence and speed give them success in agility competition.
But Peterson says sporting breeds such as Labradors and golden retrievers perform well in obedience “because they have a close working relationship with their masters. They are always looking for the next instruction.”
Hatchett is the volunteer leader of the Oklahoma spirit team, designing T-shirts and team banners to cheer on the 19 handlers and 22 dogs from Oklahoma who qualified for this year’s championship.
“This is the biggest group of competitors from Oklahoma ever,” she says. “Tulsa is the best venue I have ever been to.”
Spectators can catch action all three days of the championships, Peterson says. In the main arena, several competitions are often ocurring at once. According to Hatchett, “There’s not a bad seat in the house.”
The 2013 AKC National Agility, Obedience and Rally Championships take place at Expo Square’s Built Ford Tough Livestock Complex, 4145 E. 21st St. All events are free and open to the public. Visit www.akc.org for a schedule of events.
According to J.M. Barrie, “All children, except one, grow up.” Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby might agree. More than 20 years ago, she first stepped on the Broadway stage as Peter Pan. Rigby will reprise her role in Celebrity Attractions‘ Tulsa performances that are part of a national tour.
The Washington Post says, “‘Peter Pan’ sparkles ... Rigby has mastered the boy who wouldn’t grow up.”
For kids of all ages, “Peter Pan” is a glimpse into Barrie’s “world made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
Performances are at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. Second St. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased at www.tulsapac.com.
Conference USA Basketball Championships
Paint your face and wave your foam finger — March Madness is upon us.
The University of Tulsa plays host this month to the Conference USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. Women’s teams will play their first two rounds at the Tulsa Convention Center before joining the men at the BOK Center for the semifinals March 15.
“This is a basketball city,” says Don Tomkalski, TU’s senior associate athletic director. “Fans turn out to watch really good college basketball.”
All-session passes to men’s and women’s games range from $45 to $290 for club seats. Visit www.bokcenter.com to purchase passes or view a schedule of C-USA games.
St. Patrick’s Day Run
May the luck of the Irish be with participants in the 31st annual St. Patrick’s Day Run presented by RunnersWorld Tulsa and benefiting Special Olympics Oklahoma. Three races begin at 4320 S. Peoria Ave: a one-mile fun run at 8:30 a.m., a Special Olympics run at 9 a.m. and the chip-timed 5K run at 9:15 a.m.
In St. Paddy’s fashion, racers should wear plenty of green; avoid a pinch and compete in the race’s costume contest at 10 a.m., followed by a post-race celebration with activities for all ages.
Register by mail before March 8; in person from March 11-15 at RunnersWorld, 4329 S. Peoria Ave.; or for a small fee at www.stpatricksdayrun.eventbrite.com. Cost is $30, adults; and $15, children under 12. Visit www.sook.org for more information.