CANINE COMPETITORS “RUN FOR FUN” AT BUCKS MILL PARK
By Tony Senk
Instead of majestic horses thundering up and down the field, it was the competitive canines from the Performance Canine Association that were running at top speed during their lure coursing and sprint running demonstration, conducted by folks from the Garden State Canine Association.
For dog owners who are members of the Performance Canine Association, there’s no better way to spend a day than to watch their pooches go through their paces, or just to be with them as they meet and greet other dogs and fellow dog lovers. And over seven hours one Saturday last October, that’s just what about 30 of them did!
The Performance Canine Association (PCA) is a professional sanctioning organization of competitive and athletic canine sporting event teams. Organized by animal professionals, the PCA was founded on the philosophy that all dogs deserve the opportunity to compete for a national title.
Their mission is to develop and promote a safe, structured, dog-friendly environment for all dogs participating in PCA- sanctioned events, and the group’s goal is to promote and sponsor events, organizations, and products that improve conditions for all dogs.
The PCA donates a portion of their proceeds from fundraising events to approved humane societies, animal welfare causes, and local shelters. They have formed a special relationship with a number of animal shelters in Monmouth County, and are now spreading their helping hands – make that, paws — to help shelters in Middlesex County as well.
If the PCA ever decided to adopt a theme song, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run might be one of the songs that would be — pardon the pun — in the running.
In most lure coursing competitions, the dog runs across a field after an artificial lure that looks to the pooch like a hare or a jackrabbit. PCA folks have found that an empty white plastic garbage bag fluttering in the wind as it is pulled along the ground conjures up, for the excited dog, much the same image — and really has a way of firing up the canine chaser!
The white garbage bag is pulled quickly along the ground, making an occasional sharp turn to simulate live coursing, where prey change directions during the chase. A typical lure course is between 600 and 1,000 yards, and must have a minimum number of these sharp turns.
“It’s all about agility, speed, and the ability for the dog to follow the bag, said Mickey Stoble from Monroe Township, president of the PCA and past president of the Garden State Sighthound Association. With 30 years of experience in competitive dog events under his belt, Mickey knows a thing or two about what makes these pooches tick!
Competitive dog events are fun for the entire family, he said. On Fridays from July to November, folks from the Garden State Canine Association conduct lure coursing training and sprint training practices at Bucks Mill Park. Everyone enjoys watching their dog compete, or just watching the dogs run for fun. Lure coursing and sprint running are a great form of exercise for your dog, and also a great way to bond with your canine pal. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a mixed breed or a purebred, or if they are an experienced racer or never raced at all; they are all welcome at PCA events.”
Some of the more skilled dogs are members of the official lure coursing and sprint running team of Monmouth County, called the “Team Turbodogz!”
In order to participate in PCA-sanctioned competitions, dogs must be registered with the PCA, but participation in practices and training sessions are open to all dogs. PCA-approved muzzles are required when the dog is racing against one or two other dogs. In the first weeks of practice, the dog runs alone.
The nerve-racking anticipation at the start of each lure coursing run is positively palatable, and if you listen hard enough, you might even hear the dog’s heart beating — very quickly! The dog owner, or a member of the PCA, holds the eager and extraordinarily excited pooch at the starting line. (There are no starting gates.) The pulling machine is turned on. The plastic bag quickly scoots along the ground. The dog is released — and the race is on! .
Mickey said that Dr. Harold Nolan, Director of Colts Neck Recreation and Parks, and Barbara Byrne, Recreation and Parks administrative assistant, have been extremely helpful to the PCA.
“Dr. Nolan and Barbara have been so incredibly good to us,” he said. “Allowing us to use the polo field for our practices gives the public an opportunity to come out to see our programs and to learn a little about what we’re doing. The more people get involved with PCA, the more money we can raise to help rescue dogs, cats, and other critters that need our help. And now that we’re generating money for shelters through our organizations on both a local and a national level, it’s even more important that people come out to see us and get involved with the PCA.”
“Logan” was one of the canine superstars who ran like the wind during the recent lure coursing training session at Bucks Mill Park. He is a pit bull terrier that Christy Wrede adopted from the Monmouth County SPCA. Christy, from Eatontown, is the director of operations at the PCA. “Logan” was actually returned to the shelter three separate times, but with lots of patience and training — and even more hugs and kisses — “Logan” is now not only the fastest lure coursing and sprint racing dog with the Monmouth County “Turbodogz,” but is also a certified pediatric and geriatric therapy dog!
“Jack,” Anita Harold’s greyhound, also made many folks sit up and take notice during his lure coursing runs. Anita adopted “Jack” from a Greyhound Rescue organization. Not surprisingly, he felt right at home running like a jackrabbit. After his run, this greyhound needed no gas; some water and a milk bone or two was all the fuel he required!
Julie Richards from Colts Neck brought “Lotte,” her border collie, to Bucks Mill Park to be part of the fun. Like “Logan,” “Lotte” was adopted from the Monmouth County SPCA.
As “Lotte” chased the coursing lures, making all the hairpin turns so perfectly, Julie smiled as she looked on, and said, “Just look at her! She’s having a ball! I’ve never seen her have so much fun!”
In the end, it was hard to tell who was having more fun — the four-legged runnin’ rascals, or their smiling, laughing — and extremely proud — owners, standing on the sidelines, cheering them on.
For more information on the Performance Canine Association or to register your dog for PCA competitions contact Mickey Stoble at firstname.lastname@example.org