Top athletic dogs compete in agility championship

TULSA - More than 1,600 dogs and handlers from 48 states competed in the American Kennel Club's National Canine Agility Championship, which was held at Expo Square this weekend.

Handlers navigated man's best friend through several obstacle courses, hoping years of hard work and training would pay off.

"The bond between you and your dog. It's your buddy on the course and your best friend off the course, so it's a team effort between the two of us," said John Nys, a dog handler.

Nys and his pal, Rush, traveled from Rhode Island.

Rush used to belong to one of Nys's closest friends who recently lost a battle with cancer.

"She worked with him his whole life. She was his dog trainer," said Nys. "She really took pride in him."

Now, Nys takes pride in Rush.

Since the late 1980s, dog handler Shandra Dupree has let nothing get in her way, not even a botched surgery that left her with one leg.

"A lot of people come up to me and tell me how good it is to see me out there doing it,"said Dupree.

This weekend, she persuaded her dog, Chevy, to push through and finish strong.

"It 's been good. We've had some nice runs. No clean ones, no ribbons til this one, so we saved our best for last," she said.

Shandra says, win or lose, it doesn't really matter.

"If it wasn't for them, I'd probably be in the house just vegetating," said Shandra. "These dogs are my life. They're what keeps me going."

Organizer say the canine agility championship will return to Tulsa in 2016.

For more information, visit the American Kennel Club's website .

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