Dogs on the run at GoPro Mountain Games |

Dogs on the run at GoPro Mountain Games

Melanie Wong

Ask a trainer at Gear Town

This weekend at the GoPro Mountain Games, dog owners can stop by the Wisdom Panel booth in the adventure section of Gear Town throughout the weekend to get their furry friend DNA tested and ask dog trainer and TV personality Harrison Forbes any behavior questions they have.

Don’t worry — your dog doesn’t have to be subjected to any sharp needles, just a 5 second cheek swab. The Wisdom Panel 3.0 results (retails for $79, but discounts are offered at the Games) will let owners know exactly what breeds make up their mutt, and can also reveal health risks associated with certain breeds.

Forbes, who has worked with police and military dogs as well as Hollywood dogs in films, will be on hand through the weekend to chat with owners and answer training and behavioral questions. He says the Wisdom Panel could offer just fascinating information to some, but for others could provide vital health information.

For example, the test will identify certain herding breeds that often carry the MDR-1 mutation, meaning that many common drugs and tranquilizers used in veterinary offices could be dangerous to these breeds.

“By knowing, you can be proactive about many health problems and keep an eye out for it or head it off before it becomes a major issue,” said Forbes.

He adds that genetics are a major part of a dog’s behavior, accounting for up to 80 percent of your pooch’s personality. He points to the story of one woman said the Wisdom Panel unlocked one of the biggest mysteries about their mixed-breed dog.

“When the kids would jump in the pool and he’d freak out and couldn’t be calmed down, and he would just go crazy with certain situations. They were getting frustrated,” said Forbes. “They found out with the panel that he was 75 percent Catahoula herding dog, although he didn’t look like it, and that they have an insatiable herding instinct. Within three days they’d taken the anxiety away by removing him from certain situations and channeling his herding energies into games.”

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VAIL — The GoPro Mountain Games have really gone to the dogs.

That’s a good thing — just as the multitude of owners and their dogs of all shapes, sizes and ability gathered at Golden Peak on Friday afternoon for the Rocky Dog Trail Run. Participants ran or walked either a trail 5K or 1 mile on Vail Mountain as part of the event. Unlike some of the other events of the weekend, there were no cash prizes for the podium, but there were medals for the top three and dog treats for all.

There were born and bred runners like Smoky Burgess’ Alaskan husky Manni, who was howling with excitement at the start line. There were unlikely contenders like Welsh corgis and Chihuahua mixes toeing the line as well. There was even a dog suffering from hip dysplasia, who finished the race with the help of a wheelchair.


Some dogs and runners were looking to run a blistering pace, while others were strolling in the back of the pack with their pooches. Burgess and Manni were in the first group, coming in second.

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“We came in just under 19 minutes,” said Burgess, who lives in Leadville. “We had a good time. He’s mostly a skijoring dog, and summer is his offseason, but I thought I’d bring him out to do this.”

Tyler Costin, of Westminster, said it was the first time he’s participated in the dog run with his Texas heeler Caesar. The duo usually run 6 to 14 miles at a time during training, so the 5K was a sprint event for them.

“We came out just for this,” Costin said. “I’m a big runner and he runs everywhere with me, and we love coming up to Vail, so it wasn’t a hard decision.”

The race was a chance for outdoor lovers and their adventure buddies to compete together.

Crested Butte resident Pat Addabbo and his Welsh corgi, Griffin, finished the race at a blistering pace (about 25 minutes), considering Griffin may have had the shortest legs in the pack.

“He does everything with me,” Addabbo said. “We go backcountry skiing, we hike 14ers, we go on trail runs and even short mountain bike rides. He’s not the fastest, but he can go all day. This is our first time doing the dog run, and I’m psyched to be able to include him in the competition.”

Rhiannon Rowe with Eagle County Animal Services was running with 10-month-old Lab mix Joey. The shelter dog was up for adoption and Rowe figured running with Joey would give him a better chance of finding a home.

“This is the third year I’ve run this,” she said. “It’s good exposure for the dog and it gets them out of the shelter. A lot of people will stop us to ask about the dogs or want to hear about the shelter. People can come see us on Saturday at our booth.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927.

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