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Lonny Elson of Flagstaff and his dogs Gunner and Paxxton took home three blue ribbons at the United States Dog Agility Association’s Wild West Regional Championship, held March 8-10 in Queen Creek, Ariz. Nearly 300 dogs and their handlers competed for top honors as well as qualification to the Cynosport World Games of Dog Agility to be held in Tennessee this fall.

Gunner, a 7-year-old border collie, was crowned Regional Champion twice by taking first place in his height category in the Steeplechase, which requires speed and accuracy on hurdles, tunnels, A-frame and weave poles. He also took first in the Masters Challenge BiathlonSM, a two-round cumulative event requiring mastery at the highest level in both handling and obstacle performance.

Paxxton, 11, also a border collie, was regional champion in his height category in Performance Speed JumpingSM, which showcases top competitors with an emphasis on jumping and speed.

Elson, who has been doing agility since 2009, said watching his dogs execute the obstacles never ceases to be amazing, because they “pour all their heart and athleticism into the run.”

“Both Paxxton and Gunner have been on many podiums and won multiple times, locally, regionally and in national competition. In this recent regional in Arizona, I’m proud that they made the podium in each event they entered -- winning five of eight opportunities! I still shake my head at how well they performed,” he said.

In addition to competing, Elson is an agility trainer – privately, at camps, and for Sky High Jumpers in Flagstaff – and a USDAA judge. He works as an RN and is also a Certified Performance Coach and owner of My Mind My Game, training “competitors and professionals in and outside of agility to master their mental game.”

About dog agility

Dog agility requires dynamic physical and mental engagement for dogs and humans alike. Guided only by voice and movement cues from their human partners, the canine athletes compete against the clock, flying over hurdles, weaving between poles, racing through tunnels and bounding onto the see-saw. Obstacles are set according to the dogs’ height and experience level, allowing dogs of all breeds and sizes to compete.

Dog agility as a sport traces its roots to Great Britain in the 1970s. It found its way to the United States a decade later with the creation of the United States Dog Agility Association in 1986. The USDAA has continued to advance the fast-growing sport internationally, this year hosting regional championships in Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Spain, in addition to the U.S.

The United States Dog Agility Association is the world’s largest, independent canine sports authority, dedicated to promoting the sport of dog agility as a recreational, family sport that fosters responsible pet ownership. For more information visit USDAA.com.

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