Great footing on a turf floor, check. Well managed air conditioning, check. Spacious crating, check. Flat RV parking, check. The list goes on and >on when it comes to what agility competitors enjoy most about trial locations, and the Niles Wellness Center in Niles, Ohio has it all and then some! The facility is located on the grounds of city-owned Waddell Park, 1000 West Park Avenue, and is primarily used for soccer. Boasting 10 weekends of agility trials during non-soccer season gives you a hint that this place must be pretty special.
Friendly, safety conscious staff
The friendliness of the staff is not generally a top item on agility competitors lists unless they are truly unfriendly — then they do get attention. But at the Wellness Center the staff deserves mention. From the moment I said hello to Park and Recreation Director Robert Burke and his assistant, they welcomed me with a smile and genuine eagerness to help in any way. “We work hard to make this a desirable location for everyone,” said Mr. Burke. “If there’s anything we can improve on, please let us know.”
Safety is big for them too. When I asked about a defibrillator, they immediately pointed to the machine behind them, and Mr. Burke grabbed a first aid kit in less than 2 seconds, showing how quick they can respond. “All of our staff is certified for CPR, and our machine is tested regularly.”
Turf floor, rings, lighting
Walking in the building’s front door, lighting was on the dim/relaxing side. The information desk is to the left, a cafe is to the right, and tables for seating are in the middle and along the front. Behind that is one of the rings, with crating to the right of it. The second buts up against the first one, and has a solid, heavy cloth divider from (high) ceiling to floor. Its a really nice setup.
Lighting in the rings was bright, but not overly so. Although my dogs are on a break from agility right now, everyone I spoke with loved the turf and footing in the rings too. Their dogs had zero issues with slipping. I liked the borders of the ring too. Each had floor to ceiling translucent fabric on three sides, with a solid yellow material about 3 ft tall inside of that. Since you can walk around the rings, this method kept distractions in the ring to a minimum.
According to trial chair Debbie Sacerich, this is the first time Cleveland All-Breed Agility Training Club (CABTC) has held a trial in this location. “Other clubs have used wood fencing around all of the rings, but CABTC’s idea to use solid fabric held up simply by chairs worked really well and was far easier to set up. I’ve heard that other clubs might decide to use it too.”
The crating area is mostly to the right of one of the rings, although some dogs were crated along the back wall behind the rings, and a VIP room is behind the trial secretary area for primary trial worker dogs. The designated crating area is well-marked for aisles and had plenty of open space at this 2-ring trial. There’s also a side door to the outside that takes one directly into the dog potty area since pottying is not allowed in front of the building.
When it comes to air conditioning, one can’t please everyone. The air conditioning at the Wellness Center was just right IMHO. It was on the cooler side, but not too cool. And it was very even throughout the building. The air felt cleaner too, somehow. Perhaps it is filtered.
Riccardo’s Wellness Cafe is another big plus here. With pizza, sandwiches, salads, breakfast, smoothies, and even latte’s, you can’t do much better at a dog trial. While my gluten free status limited what I could taste, literally everyone I spoke with raved about the food. It looked and smelled absolutely delicious! The strawberry smoothie I purchased was very flavorful and just what was needed on the 80 degree day.
RV parking with green space nearby
At the trial I attended there were numerous RVs parked along the street in front of the building. This is a nice flat area for big rigs. The city is planning to manage the RV parking a bit more for future trials, with more overnight parking closer to the building along the sides of the parking lot. One side is on a side-to-side slant though, which is more problematic for RV’s to level. Knowing this group though, I’m sure they will figure things out.
There’s no shortage of walking space for your dog here, since there’s plenty of grassy area in a large park across the street. Part is shaded with large trees, while part is sunny. There are low-traffic roads around three sides of the park too, and more walking areas to the back.
CABTC knows how to run successful trials, and this one was no exception. “Our club puts on or superintends five 3-day agility trials a year,” said trial chair Debbie Sacerich, “and I chair most of them.” She is currently the club’s agility training director, but has been on the board and was club president in earlier years. “The best things about our club are the positive attitudes and strong teamwork,” she said. “I can’t “say enough about those that pitch in and get things done!”
“She’s a very strong leader herself,” fellow club member Deb Kaufman added in reference to Ms. Sacerich. “She can herd a group of cats to accomplish tasks at hand or respond to any situation that comes up. Her experience and leadership is a real asset to the club.” Ms. Kaufman is the liaison to agility sites and breed clubs for CABTC.
The club has been in existence since 1940, and hosts trials and shows for conformation, obedience, rally, and tracking in addition to agility. “We absolutely love this facility for agility,” Ms. Sacerich said. “Even though it’s farther away from our home turf, we’re very pleased to be here!