Dori takes the crown

By on August 30, 2017

Lancaster County has had its share of star athletes over the years.

There was Wally Walker, of Penn Manor, who played for years in the NBA. And Tom Herr, from Hempfield, who played Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies and Dan Kreider, of Manheim Central, who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers to name just a few. Now another name can be added to that list. Dori.

Yes, Dori.

Dori is a 13-year-old American Cocker Spaniel from the Ephrata area, who in 2016, captured the overall crown for the Veterans class with a record 8,050 points.

Dori is handled by Kim Malmer, who owns Rocky Creek Dog Agility outside of Ephrata.

Malmer began her career as a trainer/handler in 2003 and has gone on to become a trainer and judge, as well as owner of her own facility.

“Essentially, this has taken over my life,” said Malmer with a smile.

As exhausting as the training and work for the canines is, it’s just as strenuous for the handlers.

“I don’t train the dogs,” Malmer said, “I actually train the handlers.”

Dori is Malmer’s fourth dog trained to compete.

“In 2004, I decided I wanted an American Cocker Spaniel,” Malmer said. “So I traveled out near Pittsburgh and went to a breeder who had a couple litters. I really wanted a black and tan and there were several. Of course, they’re very cute and I had a difficult time deciding which dog, so my son ran across the yard and called the dogs and Dori was the first to make it to him.”

Once back home in Ephrata, Malmer began training Dori at her own facility. When Dori was ready to compete, Malmer would travel all over the Eastern part of the country to show her ability.

“If I wanted to travel about two hours from home, I could compete about 48 weekends a year,” said Malmer.

Malmer explained how a competition works.

“The organization that I compete with the most is CPE, which stands for Canine Performance Events, which is based in Michigan,” she said. “During a competition a dog may make five runs and, at the event, there could be as many as 400 runs. Each run could cost around $15.”

Dori competes as a “veteran” dog. This means they get to jump 4 inches lower than a regular dog, but they are ranked with the dogs jumping higher and they get the same time, with no other changes to the rules. A dog can compete as a veteran once they hit 6 years of age.

In 2016, Dori competed as a veteran and finished first with the most points ever accumulated to capture the crown and take her place in Lancaster County sports history.

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