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Pup's blue ribbon

Prineville pooches practice for American Kennel Club competition

by: ANNEMARIE KNEPPER/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Monica Bryant with Picabo and Kosmoe, and their ribbons.

Their show names are Jacks are Wild and Picabo Starr. But you can call them Kosmoe and Peek.
   They are Brussels Griffons belonging to Prineville resident Monica Bryant, and only 11 dogs are at their level of "excellent".
   The pups participate in a style of companion sport called agility, and their skills have won them hundreds of ribbons in just a few years of competition.
   Agility is a type of show or trial where dogs are judged not on their looks but on their ability to complete a series of tasks with minimal or no mistakes. It is growing in popularity and Bryant wanted to get involved.
   "Actually, it was Kosmoe's idea," she said.
   Six or seven years ago Bryant and her husband Mark went to watch the confirmation at a big dog show in Portland with their puppy. As they were watching the other dogs being judged on their appearance, they heard a commotion going on in the back.
   "That is where we discovered agility," Bryant said.
   Kosmoe started going on all the equipment, just like he knew what he was doing, she explained.
   Bryant had bred dogs in the past and when she purchased Kosmoe she had hoped to make him an agility dog but harbored no illusions.
   "It is a really fun sport you can do and build a relationship with your dog," Bryant said. "But if your dog isn't having fun, you can't do it."
   Kosmoe clearly loved it, so when the Bryants added little Picabo to their brood, they were hoping she would too.
   She took right to it and has been competing for just less than a year and half.
   Brussels Griffons had been dubbed a non-agility dog for a long time because of their breed.
   Standing at 10 3/4 inches tall and weighing in at 11 pounds, Kosmoe started training at about 10 months old. He has jumped at the 12-inch level for the last four years. The dog competes with Jack Russels and shelties, pooches more known as (sporty dogs.) He has competed in several trials, but the American Kennel Club is the main focus for Bryant.
   The pups are invited to the AKC Agility Invitational in Long Beach, Calif. in December. The invitational features the top five dogs in each AKC breed from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006.
   Kosmoe is currently first place in breed, Picabo third.
   Bryant is working with the dogs to achieve a MAC title or Master Agility Champion. To do that they must achieve a Double Q, or qualifying with a no mistake run in the jumper and standard categories in the same day 20 times. They must also garner 750 "speed points" or one point for every second they run under the standard course time.
   Kosmoe is on his way with 13 Double Q's and 535 speed points already.
   "Hopefully this year or next year he'll get his MAC title," Bryant said. Kosmoe has been competing for four years, still young for a performance dog.
   If Kosmoe wins the MAC title, he will be the first "Griff" on the West Coast to do so.
   Though more popular on the east coast, agility trials are starting to gain attention in the west.
   Bryant said she has heard of a few owners in Crook County participating in agility but it hasn't caught on as strong here as some other locations.
   This fall, however, agility trials will be coming to Prineville.
   The Mount Bachelor Kennel Club will have All-Breed Agility Trials Sept. 30 and October 1 at the indoor fairgrounds facility.
   More than 300 people are expected to attend.
   Bryant hopes the sport will catch on locally.
   She currently travels to Bend for one-and-a-half-hour classes every week for the dogs. She trains them at least half an hour a day at home.
   She had a weave poll set up in her backyard, as well as a dogwalk.
   Bryant said her husband gets a laugh when she brings the teeter-totter inside during the winter snow so the dogs may practice comfortably.
   "They're just my spoiled babies," she laughed. "As you can't tell."