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Doggone fun: Local dog trials are showcase for terrier enthusiasm

In the hurdle race event Saturday at the Buckingham Blitz terrier trials near Raymond, Lady Bug has the edge on Dian in the under-12.5 inches, veteran class. Lady Bug is owned by former Edina residents Charley and Jane Henrich, now of Charleston, S.C. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton) 1 / 3
Chris Halbur of Kewaunee, Wis., uses hand signals Saturday to guide her deaf, 11-year-old Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) over one of six jumps in the agility course at the Buckingham Blitz. The agility trials, which also include a tunnel and elevated walkway, are open to dogs of all breeds. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)2 / 3
Alex Iden, co-founder of the Buckingham Blitz terrier trials event, owns Buckingham Veterinary Clinic in rural Raymond, where the blitz was held Saturday and Sunday. She breeds Jack Russell terriers and has introduced many fellow Jack Russell fans to the trial circuit. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton) 3 / 3

RAYMOND — The three Jack Russell terriers strained at their leashes as they waited their turn Sunday afternoon to run the lure course at the Buckingham Blitz.

At the signal, Mistral, the first dog to run the course, was off like a shot, chasing a mechanized lure that led her down the grassy field, around the turn at the far end and back to her waiting owner, all in little more than 15 seconds.

Other Jack Russells strutted their stuff in the show ring, uncovered prey in the scent-and-locate arena, barked, hung out with their owners or snoozed in the shade.

About 130 terriers and their owners from all over the U.S. converged this past weekend at Buckingham Veterinary Clinic north of Raymond for the Buckingham Blitz terrier trials.

The two-day event showcases the energy and hunting prowess of the Jack Russell breed with agility contests, racing, hunting contests and more. But more than this, it’s a chance for dog owners to get together and share their love of all things Jack Russell.

“It’s like a really good reason to have a party with like-minded people,” said Jodi Bula Holley of Grand Marsh, Wis., as she watched the dog show, accompanied by Conquest Fable, her 3-year-old Jack Russell.

This is the fourth year the Buckingham Blitz has been hosted in rural Raymond, and the event “gets larger every year,” said co-chair Sheila Quinn. “We have a lot of new people here that haven’t been here before. We have Florida dogs here. We have East Coast dogs here.”

Mary Anne Sherry, who was operating the lure course on Sunday, traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio, to participate. Her five Jack Russells include a four-time national racing champion.

“They’re so smart. They’re very trainable,” she said of the breed.

Bula Holley attends dog trials around the United States almost every month, and her three daughters also show dogs in the youth class.

“They’re a lot of dog in a small package and I love hunting them,” she said.

“Jack Russells need a job. They just love this stuff,” said Quinn.

Alex Iden, co-founder of the event, owns Buckingham Veterinary where the blitz was held. She breeds Jack Russell terriers and has introduced many fellow Jack Russell fans to the trial circuit.

A few years ago Quinn acquired a Jack Russell, Leinie (full name: Iden Rye Leinenkugel) from Iden and took him to a trial to see what it was all about. “He was so good at racing, I got addicted to it,” she said.

Now the two women work together to put on the Buckingham Blitz, which was launched to give the Jack Russell community, especially owners in the Upper Midwest, an opportunity to take part in trials close to home.

“We’ve been working on this for months. It’s been like a full-time job for us,” Quinn said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.”

Volunteers pitch in with extra help, she said. “We would never be able to do it without our volunteers. I hope they feel appreciated because they really are.”

The Buckingham Blitz is sanctioned by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Inc., allowing dogs and their owners to accumulate points toward national rankings.

There are also several non-sanctioned events in which any terrier, dachshund or other earth breed can participate, as well as open agility competition for dogs of all breeds.

Iden would like to see more local interest in the event. Dog owners can come and watch the Jack Russells compete or enter their own dog in one of the unsanctioned contests, she said.

What she likes best is “all the people and the dogs feeling like they went to camp.”

“They don’t have to win to have fun,” she said. “I love it and they do too.”

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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