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Dogs leap in air of Awesometown

Community: Furry friends and their owners put on a show at the Canines and Coffee event

Posted: August 1, 2010 10:24 p.m.
Updated: August 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Benny Wong and Skid, a 2-year-old border collie, perform tricks at the Canines and Coffee event held at Terry Miller Memorial Park on Saturday morning. The event was hosted by Newhall Land Development Inc. and Lennar Corp.

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Spectators cheered as K.D. scurried to and fro, catching a flying disc in her mouth and running it back to her master.

After the border collie beat her opponent in the flying-disc relay, she trotted over to a small crowd of children who petted the friendly, black and white dog.

The 10-year-old mutt has come a long way. As she stunned her crowd and socialized with human youngsters Saturday at the Canines and Coffee dog show – hosted at Terry Miller Memorial Park in Valencia – no one could have known that K.D. was once an unwanted and attacking pup.

“When I got her, she was dog-aggressive and kind of rough on humans,” said K.D.’s owner and Pasadena resident Benny Wong. “After five homes, (a rescue shelter) was looking for a foster, and they couldn’t even find a foster for her.”

K.D. was one of six dogs showing off their flying-disc tricks at Saturday’s event, put on by Newhall Land Development Inc. — in conjunction with Lennar Corp. — as part of its Awesometown marketing campaign.

Rescuing K.D.
K.D. was just 13 months old when Wong and his wife took her in. She had been in and out of homes across California.
“She did have a pretty rough life,” Wong said.

In her past, K.D. had attacked family pets, other dogs and she even had a tendency to nip humans, Wong said.

“If she got close to a dog, you couldn’t trust her because she wanted to be top dog,” Wong said.

K.D. beat up four of Wong’s neighborhood dogs.  Wong had his hands full as he tried to tame K.D.’s high level of energy and channel it for good use. 

“I was determined,” said Wong, who has taken in and trained five rescue dogs. “If I didn’t keep her, she had nowhere else to go.”

When K.D. became riled up over other dogs, Wong learned to distract her as he slowly brought the other pups closer to K.D. He used positive reinforcements such as treats to reward her. But if K.D. misbehaved, she went on a “time-out.”

It took six months for Wong to socialize K.D. with other dogs and humans.

And in just two days, he trained her to like a flying disc.

“She turned out to be my best dog,” he said.

K.D. was a three-time disc dog champion from 2003 to ’05. She dominated in the Crusty Classic, which tests dogs’ freestyle tricks, distance, speed and more.

When K.D. was in her prime about three years ago, she could sprint 50 yards, catch a flying disc, run it back to Wong, and repeat seven times in one minute.

“She is more energetic than any dog I’ve ever had,” Wong said.

Paw-sometown
Some dogs catapulted off their owner’s backs and others twisted in mid-air. Spectator Alike Boggan appreciated the free entertainment provided at Saturday’s show.

“Such talented dogs,” said Boggan, who brought her 3-year-old Yorkshire terrier to the show as a belated birthday celebration for the dog dressed in a pink dress.

Dog owners with Super Showstoppers put on the canine flying-disc shows. The group hoped to promote responsible dog ownership and present flying disc as a fun, simple tool for dog-owner bonding, said presenter Sung Hyun.

“We think it’s a great way to keep your dogs happy, healthy and in shape,” Hyun said. “But most of all, we want you to observe the incredible bond these dogs have with their handlers.”

Visitors at the event were also exposed to New Leash on Life Animal Rescue, in Newhall. Volunteers for the rescue walked homeless animals around the park between shows.

A event representative passed out free iced-coffee drinks, signed guests up for raffle prizes and relayed information on upcoming Awesometown events. Canines and Coffee marked the second event in the company’s “Summer Fun Celebration” schedule.

“Even though this is a really kid-friendly community, we wanted to do something for dog lovers too,” said Karyn Spencer, director of strategic marketing for Newhall Land. “We had a great turnout this morning.”

A second chance
K.D. knelt deep into the grass; her eyes glued to the flying disc in Wong’s hands. She was prepared to battle Skid, competing for who could catch more flying discs thrown by their masters.

Despite her intense stance, K.D. has begun to take it easy. Arthritis is straining her physical capabilities so Wong has cut back on some of her flying disc tricks.

Still, the energetic pup had just enough agility to beat out her opponent with three disc catches to two.
“She likes people more than ever now and she likes all dogs now,” Wong said.

K.D. still has to prove she’s top dog, Wong said, but she does so “in a polite way.”

She perks her ears up, juts her chest out and gives a direct stare. On Saturday, K.D. had much to be proud of and Wong said he is happy he didn’t give up on her.

“They’re social animals,” he said. “Everybody needs a second chance.” 

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