Best in show 

Whistler’s K2 is top dog

At the Pacific Kennel Club annual dog show in August, hundreds of dogs will be vying for awards based on their agility, obedience and beauty.

But only one dog will get the award for the 2002 Hero Dog.

And this year a Whistler pooch is top dog.

K2, a six-year-old yellow Lab cross, will be presented with his honourable prize at a ceremony on Aug. 24 during the three-day dog show in Abbotsford.

"It’ll be all emotional," said K2’s owner and Whistler resident, Jon Maycock.

"It’ll be like taking my kid to grad."

Maycock said news of the award has stirred up a lot of funny emotions inside.

He is flattered and proud of K2, who has been faithfully by his side since he was a seven-week-old pup.

"He’s custom-made," said Maycock.

Maycock was paralyzed from the waist down after breaking his back in a cliff diving accident in 1979. This accident rendered him a T-6 paraplegic.

He relies on K2, a service dog, for his independence.

K2’s heroism doesn’t come from saving children from burning buildings or sniffing out people buried beneath snow, like police dogs or those in search and rescue.

Instead, K2 is a hero through his daily chores. He pushes Maycock’s wheelchair through snow, carries his laundry to the laundry mat, helps chop wood for winter fires and hauls groceries in his pack, among a wide host of other daily duties.

"The criteria (for the Hero Dog award) is that the dog is not a one-day hero," said Colleen Price, president of the Pacific Kennel Club.

"We like the dog who helps out their owner every day."

In the past the award has gone to other service dogs, like seeing-eye dogs, hearing dogs and therapy dogs.

"People don’t think of these dogs as heroes unless you happen to be the owner and the one dependent on the dog," said Price.

K2 was named in part as a tribute to Maycock’s love of skiing. His duties also include helping Maycock get to the hill during the winter.

K2 gets Maycock’s equipment, which includes a sit ski and outriggers, and then pushes him through the snow in his wheelchair to the lift line.

"And very eagerly so," said Maycock, who can see the shadow of K2’s tail wagging from behind.

"He doesn’t get any treats, just a pat on the head."

At the end of a ski day, K2 greets Maycock with a bottle of water at the bottom of the hill.

K2, one of the highest mountains in the world, is a fitting name for another reason.

"I think of K2 as a high point in my life," said Maycock.

Maycock began K2’s training when he was about three months old and brought in a professional trainer, Patty Szafranski, to teach him how to behave in public places, like not barking in a store or restaurant.

The Pacific Kennel Club dog show has had an annual hero dog every year since it began six years ago.

"We will continue to do (the award) until we run out of heroes," said Price.

While K2 may not be the prettiest at the show or the most obedient or the most agile, he is the most heroic and will be invited to attend as an ambassador to the other dogs.

"This really is a hero dog," said Price, who has been in the business for the past 25 years.

Price is expecting more dog entries and spectators at the dog show this year because the agility contest, which involves an obstacle course, is new.

She is expecting 300 to 400 dogs each day, drawing about 500 spectators.

There are four major awards in the agility contest and three major awards in both the obedience and confirmation (beauty) contests.

The dog show takes place at Exhibition Park in Abbotsford from Aug. 23 to 25. K2 will be honoured at noon on Aug. 24.

To find out more information on K2 visit www.offleashdogpark.com/k2.htm

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