Vail Teva Games: For the love of dogs
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Dog lovers are a breed all of their own – they’ll do anything to make their four-legged best friends happy.
The competitors in the dog events at the Teva Mountain Games were there for no reason other than their love for dogs.
There was no prize money, but that’s not why people like Gary Hansen travel hundreds of miles to enter their dogs in these competitions.
“It’s just for the satisfaction of seeing the dogs having fun,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s black labrador retriever, Jackson, came in seventh place in Sunday’s big air finals, but it didn’t matter that Jackson didn’t finish on top.
“(The dogs) don’t get a big head or anything, they’re just having fun,” Hansen said.
The big air event tests a dog’s ability to jump far. The dog handlers position their dogs on the ramp that leads to the pond, and the strategy can be very complex after that.
Jon Langdon, of Arvada, part of the Sit Means Sit dog training contingent at the Teva Mountain Games, said his dog, Remy, has a blast at the competitions. The whole point is just to have fun, but that doesn’t mean the fun comes without strategy.
Remy, who won the big air pro division final Sunday, trusts Langdon completely – that’s what leads to their success as a team, Langdon said.
When they train, Langdon makes sure Remy catches the toy he throws into the air. But in competition, he throws it farther to get the dog to go farther. The trust is already so solid that it’s never broken in competition.
Trust is exactly how Dave Skoletsky, of Massachusetts, turned his dog Yeager’s personality around. Skoletsky got Yeager off Craigslist and the dog didn’t like people or other dogs at first.
“A lot of training totally turned that around,” Skoletsky said.
When you watch the pair compete, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun.
“It’s priceless,” Skoletsky said.
Todd Scheurich, of Vail, was enjoying Sunday afternoon with his chocolate labrador retriever, Boudreaux – it was just their second day of competition ever. Saturday was their first.
Scheurich said he spends so much time with Boudreaux and the competitions were just another way to communicate with each other, and more importantly, they’re just another way to have some fun.
“It’s just another game for us to play,” Scheurich said.
Boudreaux won the amateur division of the big air final – he’s come a long way since Scheurich’s sister found him in Louisiana and sent him to her brother.
It’s that joy visible in each dog’s demeanor that not only keeps their owners coming back for more, but also the crowds.
Lianne Hassen, part of the Sit Means Sit dog trainers, said her dog, Rex, is so poised when he’s ready to compete. Rex won both the Iron Dog overall ranking and the Speed Retrieve final.
“He just loves it,” Hassen said. “When he gets up on that dock he’s so serious. I can’t believe how fast he can go.”
Hassen thinks she knows at least part of the reason why Rex is so good at what he does – it’s because of all the attention.
“He loves (the crowds) screaming for him,” Hassen said. “He thinks he’s the most amazing dog in the world.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com.
Speed retrieve finals
1. Lianne Hassen and Rex, Las Vegas, 5.565 seconds.
2. Jon Langdon and Remy, Arvada, 6.309.
3. David Smith and Jet, Thornton, 6.470.
Big air finals, pro division
1. Jon Langdon and Remy, Arvada, 25 feet.
2. Ryan Hainstock and Bridger, Port Angeles, Wash., 22 feet 11 inches.
2. Erika Jones and Otis, Denver, 22 feet 11 inches.
3. Jennifer Ruminsky and Jade, Fort Collins, 22 feet 8 inches.
1. Lianne Hassen and Rex, Las Vegas.
2. Dave Skoletsky and Yeager, Stoughton, Mass.
3. Jon Langdon and Remy, Arvada.
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