Dog competitions proves to be quite a show

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— A Wednesday packed with endurance and agility tests did little to rob Lazer of his energy, as the dog dropped his retrieval bumper on the ground ready to fetch it again.

Owner Anna Jonsson of South Hadley, Mass., said her border collie has limitless energy, which comes in handy for events such as the Purina Dog Chow Incredible Dog Challenge Outdoor Adventure, which was staged in North Routt County on Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's really exciting because all of us on the Northeast team really enjoy physical fitness," Jonsson said. "But the dogs are in better shape, hands down. Any dog would beat us in a race."

Wednesday and Thursday's event marks the sixth season of the Purina Dog Chow Incredible Dog series but only the second taping of the Outdoor Adventure. Both have been staged in North Routt.

Late last summer, the production team of Carson International taped the teams and their dogs competing in the Outdoor Adventure at the Midnight Ranch north of Columbine. The show aired on TBS in late October.

This year, the same group returned but made its Routt County stop earlier in the summer, taking over a pond and forest area surrounding the isolated Midnight Ranch.

The show was taped for PAX and NBC but an airdate is not yet known, Kathy Carson of Carson International said.

For two days, four teams of people and dogs from across the country competed in a variety of obstacle courses and endurance events, testing the dogs and their handlers.

"For these people, it's like a fantasy trip," Carson said. "It's beautiful here. It's a good opportunity for these people to do all these challenges with their dogs."

The teams of five people and four dogs came from New Mexico, Florida, the Northeast and even in-state for the five-event competition.

The first four events -- Paw and Pedal Agency, Paw and Pedal Relay, Mountain Splash and Team Speed Retrieve -- were held in the pond or in the woods at Midnight Ranch.

The final event, called the Gold Rush competition, was a trail race up Sand Mountain near Steamboat Lake.

"There are a few events that rely on the dog and handler and others where the dogs can easily do their jobs," Jonsson said.

The Purina Dog Chow Incredible Dog Challenge makes six stops throughout the country. Several are staged in the arena setting commonly shown on television.

The Outdoor Challenge is the first of its type for television, incorporating a mountain setting with mountainous events and no spectators.

The Midnight Ranch and Sand Mountain provided Carson International and the competitors the isolated environment they were seeking for the upcoming television show, Carson said.

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