Canine athletes challenged by weighted sledsPublished 9:00pm Saturday, March 9, 2013
Spectators cheered as 17-pound Dixie pulled more than 2,000 pounds of weight across the finish line Saturday at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op.
Dixie was one of 20 dogs that traveled far and wide with their owners to participate in the Selma Pull-Off, an event hosted by the American Pulling Alliance.
The APA sponsors events across the nation in which dogs compete in pulling anywhere from 500 pounds to 6,000 pounds across a 16-foot distance.
Rob Herndon said he traveled from Charlotte, N.C. to see how much weight his dogs — Jed, Jazzy and Dixie — could pull.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Herndon said while prepping his pups for the competition. “The bull dog breeds, they get a bad rap, so this a positive thing for the dogs to do.”
And Herndon wasn’t the only one who traveled a large distance to have their canine pull a large amount of weight. Michigan, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana were just a few other states represented at the pull-off. Several breeds were present at the competition including American pit bull, Husky, Rottweiler and Jack Russell Terrier.
However, Kenneth Fluorney, APA representative for Alabama, said he’s even seen Chiwawas compete.
“Sometimes the smallest dog can pull the most weight,” Fluorney said. “It’s a sport like any other — you’re testing the dog’s strength.”
And although these dogs are pulling thousands of pounds, Fluorney said no physical harm is brought upon the canines. If they don’t want to pull, Fluorney said the dog simply goes to the sideline.
Stephanie Mayfield, Birmingham native, said she recently began participating in the sport.
After rescuing a pit bull, Mayfield said she began looking in to training her new friend for pull-offs.
“This is what we do, we promote the breed,” Mayfield said of her pit bull that often gets a “bad rap” for being violent and dangerous. “They’re faithful dogs and actually very child friendly.”
Mayfield said her 4-year-old daughter enjoys playing with their new pet and traveling to pull-off competitions.
“We travel as a family with the dogs,” Mayfield said. “It’s great because you get to teach the dogs and meet new people.”