A large group of valley residents and their dogs competed in the Wenatchee Kennel Club’s Agility Fun Day at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery last week. Competitors included Kelly Schuh and her dog Finley, Marti Darling and Jane, Tom Orcutt and Merlin, Kathryn Heim and Cassidy, Janet Boyce and Flynn, Shannon Fharnham and Heyoka, Teri Pieper and Luna, and Lynne Wasson and Trip. Notably absent were Mary Ann Yakabi and Frida, two of the most regular Methow competitors, because they were at another competition in Spokane.

The Fun Day is a mock competition that gives young dog handler teams a fun way to practice being in the competition environment without all the pressure. The dog teams ran through six different courses with a select group of obstacles, trying to be faster than the standard course time (which varies by height of dog, with littler dogs getting more time). Those teams who qualified won prizes commensurate to the intensity of the competition – squeaky toys.

Lynne Wasson says that in a sport that consists mostly of retired people, 9-year-old Kelly Schuh stands out, although there was one other youngster at this particular event. This type of competition creates an incredibly strong bond between dog and handler and it is fun to see kids learning the joy of this bond. Lynne also says that you can run a dog and wear him out, but nothing challenges dogs and handlers more physically and mentally than completing agility courses.

Other valley competitors traveled to the west side for a human race over the weekend. Methow names loaded the roster of Ski to Sea race teams in Bellingham on Sunday. The only all-Methow team I noticed was the Gardner Mountain Goats, consisting of Joe Jensen, Bill Gaines, Casey Smith, Bob Naney, John and Remington Rohrer, Robert Long, and John Sinclair; however, there were other valley faces (such as Hannah Kettler, John Spaude, Audrey Jo Mills, and my husband) spotted on various sections of the 7-leg, 93-mile race. Several of the valley’s top skiers – Brian and Caitlin Gregg and Sam Naney – were among the top five finishers in the Nordic leg for a couple of highly competitive teams.

Being in Bellingham for the weekend, I missed the Pipestone concert, but I heard from several audience members about Keeley Brooks’ big solo, Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor, accompanied on piano by Nancy Acheson. One listener commented that not only does Keeley show technical mastery, but at age 10 shows a quality of emotion uncharacteristic of her age.

“She expresses a feel for the music,” said my source, “and if she continues at her present pace with her musical development, she will be one to watch.”