Ear to the ground

“Dad, why would anyone build a trail out in the middle of nowhere?”

– A local second-grader reflecting on her first bike ride in Horse Gulch

2nd best in show

Durango has always been a breeding ground for top athletes, but one local resident is literally jumping through hoops to break the mold. Sammy, a Durango Yorkshire terrier, is rapidly rising through the ranks to become one of the top agility dogs in the country.

Michelle Oliveira and her dog Sammy started agility training when the terrier was still a puppy four years ago. Sammy, aka Samuel XXVIII, trained with the Durango Kennel Club and Durango Agility Dogs before entering his first competition at the tender age of 1½ years.

As of last summer, Sammy was the fifth highest-ranking agility Yorkshire terrier in the country. The little local also boasts champion titles that range from “Open Jumpers” to “Masters in Agility.”

This winter, Sammy added another medal to his coat. In December, Oliveira and Sammy faced off against the swiftest, most agile dogs in the nation at the American Kennel Club® Agility Invitational in Long Beach, Calif. During the event, Michelle and Sammy ran the timed agility course. Any missed obstacles or other mistakes result in penalty faults which are deducted from the score. When the dander settled, Sammy finished second in his breed and 45th in his class overall. Samuel is now back at home and training up for the upcoming season.

Agility is the AKC’s fastest-growing canine sport. In the competition, dogs maneuver through a challenging course of obstacles, including tunnels, weave poles, jumps and seesaws. Only the top five ranked agility dogs in each of the 167 recognized breeds are invited to attend the Agility Invitational.

Bagging Bigfoot

Local hunters can stalk a most unusual prey this weekend on the banks of Vallecito Lake. The Vallecito Nordic Club kicks off its first annual Yeti Hunt fund-raiser April 16 at the Schank House.

Anyone interested can purchase a “Yeti Tag” in advance of the hunt (they’re on sale at Duranglers and the Schank House). The horn will sound at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and hunters will set off to track the Yeti (which just happens to be a large man in a furry suit) through a designated area near Vallecito. Whoever is the first to capture and tag the Yeti takes home the big prize – $500.

But everyone wins at the Yeti Hunt. Door prizes will be stashed in balloons throughout the area, and the Schank House will host a big bash with music from the Jelly Belly Boogie Band for the famished huntsmen and women. Plus, all proceeds go to grooming and upkeep of the Vallecito Nordic System, an asset for skiers, snowshoers and Yetis alike.