Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2014, 10:06 pm

Scott County Kennel Club open house gives dogs, humans chance to socialize

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By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com

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Carol Mueller of Milan watches her German Shorthaired Pointer "Jade" jump though a tire as they run the obstacle course at the Scott County Kennel Club open house in Davenport Saturday Feb. 15, 2014.
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Suzy Bishop, of Moline, watches her Golden Retriever run though the weave on the obstacle course during the Scott County Kennel Club open house in Davenport on Saturday Feb. 15, 2014.
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Lisa Warner of Davenport watches her striped Pug "Baby Roo" run though the weave on the obstacle course during the Scott County Kennel Club open house in Davenport Saturday Feb. 15, 2014.
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Kris Ratliff of Rock Falls helps her Maltese "Iggy" across the walk bridge on the obstacle course at the Scott County Kennel Club open house in Davenport Saturday Feb. 15, 2014.
DAVENPORT — Barks, laughs and wagging tails filled the Scott County Kennel Club's new digs Saturday during its open house at its new location.

In the lobby-like area of the club, pups and their owners gathered in clusters to chat, sniff each other, and eat treats and snacks, the canine variety donated by Purina.

In the other room, dozens of dogs ran like mad with their owners through an agility course, while others quietly worked with their owners, sitting and moving again at simple hand signals, or returning gloves and other items to their owners.

The dogs were of all shapes, sizes and breeds, from the teeny-tiny and fluffy types, to the tall, long and lean.

Ray Carter, president of Scott County Kennel Club, said the club provides training and classes in confirmation, obedience, agility, and more, including a class just for puppies.

The club moved just over a dozen blocks from its former location in October. The new facility, at 2002 W. River Dr., Davenport, offers a large space with plenty of parking; new, bright blue matting for the dogs and their owners to work on; and air conditioning, which allows members the opportunity to work with their pups in the grueling summer months, Mr. Carter said.

"It's a great place," he said.

Currently, the club has about 80 members, Mr. Carter said, noting that several people who attended the open house were non-members looking to learn more.

Mr. Carter said he and his wife have four pugs and two large munsterlanders. Working with the dogs is something "we get to do together," he said, "and have fun with our dogs."

The club has a "good, social atmosphere," he said, and in the winter months, it helps prevent people and their dogs from becoming "couch potatoes."

Dogs being around other dogs socializes them, too, Mr. Carter said. Gesturing to the room, some dogs were barking while others were creating a commotion on the agility course. But none of them were "terrified," he said, because they were used to being around other dogs.

Jade was one of them. The shiny, brown German shorthair sat calmly at her owner Carol Mueller's feet. Whenever Ms. Mueller made a circle motion with her hand, or raised it, Jade would follow, turning in a circle, or standing on her hind legs for a treat.

The Milan woman said she has belonged to the club with her pups for about 10 years. It gives the dogs "something to do," she said. Otherwise, "they drive you crazy" with their energy.

At the club, Jade enjoys the agility courses the best. "She just likes to run," Ms. Mueller said.

And there is plenty of room to do that at the club.

In the agility section of the room, dog after dog tore across a beam, through a tunnel, over a teeter-totter, up and over an A-framed walk, over several jumps and more, all with their owners running and cheering beside them.

The courses are always different, Ms. Mueller said, and it makes it "interesting" for Jade.

Aletha Williams, of Taylor Ridge, had just finished running the course with her Shetland Sheepdog, Owen, "The Flying Squirrel," who has a tendency to jump off of the obstacles and soar through the air throughout agility courses.

A club obedience and agility trainer, Ms. Williams said she joined about 14 years ago after she got a Shetland Sheepdog who was "evil."

"So I brought her to dog school," she said, laughing, "and we've been here ever since."

She encouraged Quad-Citians with pups to visit a class or meeting and "check us out."

The dogs "love it as much as we do," she said.

Hosting the open house offered the chance to show that to the community.

"We wanted people to know that we're here and we'd love to have them," she said.

Scott County Kennel Club meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. The club also hosts four agility trials each year at the Quad Cities Dog Center in Davenport, and a show every May, which typically is held at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island.

For a class schedule and more information, visit scottcountykennelclub.org.