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2,000 dogs join agility competition

More than 2,000 dogs of all shapes and sizes have been competing in one of the world's largest agility competitions.

The Kennel Club's International Agility Festival has drawn a crowd of thousands as competitors from more than 20 countries gathered to put their dogs to the test.

Obstacle courses in increasing grades of difficulty are the heart of the three-day event, with the top performers booking a slot in Crufts 2014.

Richard Chubb, one of the organisers, said the event held in the grounds of Rockingham Castle in Leicestershire, near Market Harborough, was "one of the largest agility shows in the world" and even sees national sides facing off against each other in the Nations Cup event.

He said: "We currently have 2,200 dogs, with competitions ranging from the very basic grade one right up to the best of the best, the creme de la creme of the championships, at grade seven.

"We've got quite a few finals for various events that will be taking place at Crufts 2014.

"We get all types of owners here, we get people with their pet dogs coming to have a look around and maybe get into agility, people looking to get a dog who are turning up for advice on what type to get, and there are people who have been doing agility all their lives."

He added: "Everyone has, at one stage in their life, had a dog or knows someone with a dog. Everybody can relate to it and it's such a fun sport - and it's the fastest growing dog sport. It's also exciting to watch - everyone loves it."

He said getting a dog to top level "takes a long time" but the basics were easy to pick up.

The courses are packed with obstacles which range from jumps of various heights, set to the size of dog competing, to see-saws and tunnels, with the crowds cheering on entrants to set the quickest times.

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