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Whistler going to the dogs

Purina Incredible Dog Challenge hosts winter games in Whistler



In less than two months Whistler will be in the world's spotlight, as athletes strive against one another for gold medals, world records, national pride and personal bests.

Almost none of them are in it for sausages and belly rubs, like the very different kind of athletes that will arrive in Whistler, tails wagging, the first week of January.

For the first time Whistler will be hosting the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, an event so big in the U.S. that it's broadcast nationally. Hundreds of dog lovers from across North America will be bringing their fuzzy, four-legged gladiators to compete in events like Incredible Flying Disc, Incredible Agility, Incredible Dual Course Slalom racing and Incredible Ski Joring - cross-country skiing while being pulled by dogs.

There is also an event for the public called the Paw and Pole where leashed/harnessed dogs and their owners race together around a short course. As well local avalanche dogs will compete in the Incredible Avalanche Rescue, with Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association-trained dogs and their handlers seeing who can locate and dig a person out the fastest.

Events take place over three days, from the opening demonstrations on Thursday, Jan. 7 to the finale freestyle flying disc competition on Saturday, Jan. 9.

Most of the events take place around the Whistler Golf Club "Purina Arena," with the canine demonstrations taking place in Village Plaza and the avalanche rescue dog competition taking place on the mountains.

The events get underway on Jan. 7 with canine demonstrations at Village Plaza at noon and 4 p.m.

On Friday the avalanche rescue dog competition gets underway at 9:30 a.m., with registration for other events getting underway at the golf club at 10 a.m.  Ski Joring race practice is at 11 a.m., the agility practice at 1 p.m. and the Freestyle Flying Disc practice and local qualifier at 2 p.m.

The Ski Joring Race is at 10 a.m.  on Saturday, followed by the public Paw and Pole event at 11 a.m. The agility competition is at 12:30 p.m., followed by the slalom racing at 1:30 p.m. with dogs going head-to-head through a set of 60 poles. The Freestyle Flying Disc Competition takes place at 2:30 p.m.



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