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Dogs Make a Splash at Prairie Oaks MetroPark

If you thought Young’s Jersey Dairy was a cool place for you to visit while trialing at Champions Center, your fur pets will thank you for taking them to Prairie Oaks MetroPark. Here they can swim and play along a dog beach … unleashed! Located at 2755 Amity Road in Hilliard, OH, it’s about a 30 minute drive from Champions Center. But oh so worth it!

Confusing to find the dog beach section; bit of  a hike too

Darby Bend Lakes (note plural) consists of 3 smaller lakes that sprawl along the Darby Lakes entrance road to the MetroPark. There are no signs as to where the dog beach might be at the entrance or at any of the three parking areas. And the truth is, it is roughly the same distance from each of the parking areas to get to the dog beach!

After entering the park, the beach is technically along the first lake on the right side of the road . However, it is at the end of the lake, and to get there, you have to walk across some grass and go over a bridge. That bridge is over a stream connecting two lakes.  Once across the bridge, keep walking and not too far down you’ll finally see a sign for the dog beach on your right. It is not fenced in, so if you have a dog that won’t stay around, the leash will have to stay on.

The beach is course gravel and sand, with some grass attempting to grow. The lake also seems to get deep pretty quickly and the water is murky as a result. It still seemed quite clean though. There’s a floating dock that goes out a short ways into the lake, and a small shelter with a bench underneath for a little shade.

Overall my dogs absolutely loved this place. We’d been travelling and they hadn’t had a chance to full out run for several days. So they not only enjoyed the water on such a hot day, but also tore up and down the beach several times. Since it was a weekday when we went and a storm was fast approaching, there weren’t many other dogs there. But they really enjoyed the dogs and handlers that chanced it along with us!

Trails, trails and more trails

The weather didn’t permit us to explore the park, but I picked up a brochure and found no less than eight trails in the park. They range in distance from .7 miles to over 5 miles long, and in challenge levels from easy to difficult.

Trail map of Prairie Oaks Metro Parks, Hilliard OH

If hiking isn’t your thing, the park also offers picnic areas, fishing and non-motorized boating. There’s also a restroom with flush toilets and an outdoor faucet for cleaning off the lake water!

Nature abounds at Prairie Oaks MetroPark

The Darby Watershed is nationally recognized for is ecological diversity, and is home to nearly 100 species of fish and 44 species of mussels. Wildlife includes numerous types of birds, white-tailed deer, turkey, and more.

There are three other entrances to the 2,203 acre Prairie Oaks MetroPark, in addition to the Darby Bend Lakes entrance noted above:

  • Sycamore Planes entrance – has a nice trail that loops over the plains and then winds into the woodlands along Big Darby Creek
  • Main park entrance – includes two picnic areas, trailhead to the bridle trail, a picnic shelter, and restrooms
  • Beaver Lake – a small lake for boating and fishing, and a designated “natural” play area where one can wander off trail, climb a tree, dig in the dirt, or just have fun playing outdoors

So if you or anyone in your party is interested in fishing or wildlife-watching during the time you attend the CPE nationals or take your champion agility dog to the beach, you now know the place to go.

High Energy at Champions Center for CPE Nationals

indoor ring at Champions Center, Springfield OH
Two of the 6 rings at CPE Nationals were indoors

>> See more images and details about the Champions Center

The energy was truly buzzing at the 2018 CPE nationals! Competitors came with high hopes, coordinators and volunteers came with extra jobs in addition to running their dogs, the judges came with their well-prepared courses, vendors came with hopes of selling their wares, and the dogs – they just came and didn’t quite understand why this trial had so much more excitement than the others.

By the numbers:
* 800 dogs (760 on site due to attrition) *
* 500 exhibitors *
* 150+ RVs – 2nd highest number of RVs than
any event held at the fairground *

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Scenic, dog-friendly Mill Creek MetroParks

Lantermans Mill Falls, near at NilesWellnessCenter, NilesOH, part of the Mill Creek MetroParks systemAfter finishing a dog agility trial at the Wellness Center in Niles, Ohio, I decided to take the dogs for a walk. We went to Mill Creek MetroParks in Youngstown, about 10 miles away. The park consists of 4,400 acres, with 15 miles of foot trails and 20 miles of road trails. The landscape includes a variety of bridges, ponds, streams, well-tended gardens, boardwalks, rugged walking paths, a huge gorge,  and waterfalls.

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Niles Wellness Center has it all!

Agility ring at Niles Wellness Center, Niles OH

>>More details about Niles Wellness Center

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.

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State Side Deli – Melt in your mouth good!

Storefront of State Side Deli in Okemos MIFor Michigan agility competitors, a road often traveled is I-96 between the West and East side of the state. If you’re hungry during this drive, State Side Deli is a restaurant that will satisfy far beyond traditional fast food.

The deli and restaurant serves fresh salads, homemade soups, hot corned beef sandwiches, and breakfast anytime. I ordered a hot corned beef sandwich on gluten free bread to go, since I had dogs in the car and it was warm out that day. It came within just a few minutes, in an insulated container.

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CCDAC Hosts First AKC Trial at All Dogs Can

Three CCDAC club members in colorful shirts, two holding small dogs
Proud CCDAC club members (L to R): Margarette Belanowski with Logan, Stefanie Theis, and Lynn Baitinger with Kelsi

>> More pictures at All Dogs Can

It wasn’t exactly planned that way, but the Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club (CCDAC) hosted the first AKC agility trial at the new All Dogs Can building in Lapeer, Michigan. Judging the trial held January 5-7, 2018 was Don Farage Jr. from Bartlett, Tennessee. The month following this trial, Mr. Farage judged the AKC 5th Annual Masters Agility Championship at Wesminster, so he gets around! Trial chair was Jeremy Gerhard, who likes to work the score table too. He was often found studiously adding scores into the computer.

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Car-Dun-Al Dog Training holds Smack Dab Agility Trial

Dog Agility Ring, Car-Dun-Al Dog Training, Huntley IL

>> See more details about Car-Dun-Al Dog Training’s facility

Last weekend’s dog agility trial at Car-Dun-Al Dog Training in Huntley IL–hosted by Smack Dab Agility Club of Warrenville, IL–was another great event with several surprises. Bob Jeffers was the honorable judge, Danielle Davis was Chairperson, and Robert Olsen was Trial Secretary. Together with their club members and community volunteers, they put on a smooth-running trial.

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Brand-Spankin’ New – All Dogs Can in Lapeer MI

> More All Dogs Can pictures and details

Today finds me at an all new agility location called All Dogs Can in Lapeer, Michigan. Now this is an exciting thing! Owner Darlene Collings started construction on her new building in July, 2017 and move-in was mid December. This weekend’s AKC trial is the 2nd one they’ve held, having had a CPE trial last weekend. The building’s Grand Opening is next weekend. So yes, it’s that new.

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Three incredible rings at Crown Sports, Eden, MD

Agility Ring at Crown Center, Eden MD

> More pictures and details about Crown Sports Center, Eden MD

It’s hard to imagine the size of Crown Sports in Eden, Maryland until you walk in the door. Even then, it takes a while to get one’s bearings. The front door leads you down an aisle with the agility rings on the left, and restrooms, concessions, offices, an arcade, and another ring on the right. It’s just so big!

Between each agility ring are aisles that take you to the crating side of the building. At least this is how it was set up for the four-day trial I attended September 23-26, 2017. The first 2 days were sponsored by Salisbury Kennel Club, the third day by Potomac Valley Agility Club, and the fourth day was the Golden Retriever Club of America for their National Specialty.

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