Although Great Danes are not usually known for their agility, Blake, a 70-kilo Harlequin Great Dane, is ever ready to spring into action. 'He's always been an exuberant character, says his owner Jill Gibson, ' but when I took him along to my local agility club, they took one look at him and obviously thought we was too big to cope with the obstacles.' Undeterred, Jill decided to set up her own agility club.
Jill fell in love with Blake, a Harlequin Great Dane first and then she fell in love with agility. The clubs she approached for training were horrified and put her on a waiting list and years later; she is still waiting to hear from them. Others just told her she was mad and suggested she try another breed as Blake was too big and heavy he’d break the A-frame. Not to be put off, Jill set her friends to work making over-sized agility equipment and opened her own training club, Harlequin Fun Agility.
The Harlequin Fun Agility Club does exactly what the name suggests, and ensures that the main objective of the club is to have fun with your dog. It caters for dogs of all sizes from Danes to Dachshunds - and their owners - who 'just wanna have fun.' Members include dogs at all levels of agility and is probably the only club in the UK that can boast different sizes of equipment to accommodate Mini, Midi, Standard and Maxi (large) dogs.
HFAC holds classes all weekend with the added advantage of indoor facilities throughout the winter months. The times of classes vary depending upon the level of agility and size of dog, with large breeds kept together in the same group - the only reason being that the equipment used for them is so darned big and heavy - a bit like themselves really!
All the equipment conforms to Kennel Club standards in terms of obstacle size, with lower jumps and contact obstacles to reduce the chance of joint damage in the larger breeds of dog. All the obstacles are reinforced and enlarged to take maxi breeds comfortably and safely. Membership includes Great Danes, St. Bernards and Wolfhounds.
This year, Blake was at Crufts promoting large breed at the Eukanuba stand, but you have probably seen him before. He was the fun dog at Olympia in 1999 and competed with the ABCs at Crufts in 2000. And who can forget his starring role in the film East is East!
These videos of Blake going through his paces below are available here in a variety of formats.
food for big jumping dogs
Skeletal diseases in large breeds are often hereditary, but the risk of developing them can also be influenced by nutrition. Correct nutrition can help build strong joints and bones in growing puppies, and help support joint health and mobility in older large breed dogs.
Eukanuba, a name usually synonymous in agility circles with small dogs, has now developed a range of highly targeted and informative educational material aimed to increase consumer knowledge about the health of their Large Breed dog food.
For more information
about The Harlequin Fun Agility Club, contact Jill Gibson at Ging Farm, Ratby Lane, Markfield,
Everyone and every size welcome!
Thank you to Mary Ann Nester and the Eukanuba Magazine for their editorial input.