Ivybrook Beau Blazer De Menton is a dog of many talents.
In addition to garnering 11 American Kennel Club agility titles and multiple boxes of ribbons, the 5-year-old Shetland sheepdog is also an expert at playing Frisbee.
Blazer recently tried something new.
Along with owner and handler Dr. Angela Morgan, he participated in his first AKC National Agility Championship in Tulsa, Okla., on March 26-28.
"It was our first trip there," Morgan said. "There were (nearly) 1,000 dogs there and he handled like a little dream."
After competing on the Georgia state team and also individually, the sable Sheltie finished nationally in the 55th percentile.
"I was so thrilled to have gotten an invitation to the big party, so to speak," Morgan said. "I thought it was a wonderful experience."
Through agility trials, a dog can demonstrate its agile nature and versatility by competing in a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects, according to the AKC Web site.
"I think the reason it's becoming so popular is just because it's so much fun to do something different with your dog," said Lisa Peterson, AKC director of communications. "It's good bonding and it's good exercise for both the handler and the animals."
The 16-hour trip to Tulsa was about 1,000 miles away from Morgan's home in Evans.
Morgan and her husband, Jim Dunaway, spend many weekends of the year traveling throughout the Southeast competing in shows.
"We spend over a month each year in hotels," said Dunaway, who cheers the pair on from the stands and snaps photographs.
When Morgan and Blazer are not on the road competing, they spend time at home relaxing and training.
Morgan and Dunaway have an agility course set up in the backyard of their 2.5-acre lot. Morgan trains with Blazer for about 10 minutes twice a day.
"Is there life outside agility?" Dunaway asked. "No."
The active Sheltie, who underwent surgery at just 10 weeks to repair a heart defect, was named for the large white stripe on his snout.
In many ways, Blazer lives up to his name: He can run at a speed of 5 yards per second.
"Time is never an issue for Blazer," Dunaway said.
A new Sheltie puppy recently joined the couple's family, which includes a 12-year-old Dachshund named Mattie, who has retired from agility competitions.
Dunaway hopes to begin training with the puppy, named Ariel, when she's old enough.
"It might be the end of our marriage, too, because we're both very competitive," Dunaway joked.
Morgan and Blazer are currently working toward the Master Agility Champion title -- the highest a dog can receive in agility.
"He's a high-drive dog," Morgan said. "He needs a job, and agility is his job."
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