Lure Coursing Meets Dog Agility
Lure Coursing is a dog sport that recreates the pursuit of a hare by a hound. Spectators watch as a white plastic bag stands in for the hare and is yanked through a course comprised of a series of lines and pulleys. The dog – typically a Greyhound, Whippet, Basenji, Saluki, Afghan or Rhodesian Ridgeback – gives chase through the course, in hot pursuit of the zipping plastic bag. Good times.
Dog Agility is well known by any visitor to the Zoom Room – and is the fastest-growing dog sport in the U.S. In dog agility, dogs navigate an obstacle course of A-frame, jumps, chutes, teeter and tunnels, running alongside their owner to achieve the best possible time.
Inventor Lee Anton Rebalko of Pompano, Florida, must have experienced an “Aha!” moment akin to that fateful day when chocolate first met peanut butter. Rebalko wondered what would happen if you married lure coursing to dog agility. The result? U.S. Patent #6,109,213: Competitive Dog Performance Apparatus and Method. Or, as we call it, Robot Agility.
The invention – pictured above – is a portable, motor-driven agility course in which a dog is tasked with following a lure through a course that includes the familiar dog agility obstacles. Instead of being encouraged along the path by a watchful, enthusiastic owner, the pup is entrusted to give chase to a “bundle of white plastic strips” through the neverending course.
The invention was submitted to the patent office about a decade ago; we’ve yet to see any popping up around town. We think we know why. Much of the joy of dog agility is the camaraderie with your dog. Here there’s no opportunity to deepen the bonds of communication. Also, the type of visual tracking required of a dog to succeed at Robot Agility is not present in equal amounts in every breed. We’ve seen that any dog can perform dog agility – but the same can’t be said about lure coursing.
We salute Rebalko’s ingenuity – but we still prefer the old-fashioned agility course. Owners who come to the Zoom Room, run the course, and are thankful for the extra workout in their day – not to mention the great time they’ve had with their dog – would rather be in the thick of the sport, rather than confined to the spectator stands.