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Agility of a dog's life: Taken reaches Nationals (updated)

Taken, Whitney Lamberson's border collie, works the weave.Credit: For the Sun-Times

Whitney Lamberson is taken with Taken in all the best ways.

“Taken is the most,” Lamberson said. “He just wants to please you. He is very goofy dog.”

When she comes home to her 25th-floor condo, she said Taken walks up sideways, wiggling his butt.

“He makes little noises; he kinda sounds like Chewbacca,” said Lamberson, who works for a trading firm downtown.

Taken is different in more than name, more than just goofy. The 4-year-old border collie is also incredibly talented.

[ADDED] He will show that Saturday when he performs in the 18th annual Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals. The event is held at Purina Farms just outside of St. Louis. He advanced with a second place in the eastern regional in Boston.

“At shows, if they say, Bailey or Wrigley, you are one of 20 other dogs,” Lamberson said. “When they shout my name I know.”

Yes, Taken is named for the movie.

A Lincoln Park high-rise seems an unlikely spot to train a top-level athletic dog. Lamberson walks her dogs around Lincoln Park, but for years, she would travel to Plainfield or northwest Indiana for training. Her dog-training life got easier recently with Urban Pooch dog center on the North Side.

As to what makes Taken special, Lamberson said his drive to please meshes well with his “very athletic, long stride.”

“It is all one big game to him,” she said. “He doesn’t know the difference between events. I try to keep it as fun as possible.

Lamberson feels lucky to have had the chance to be able to take Taken and stretch him out running on a beach around New Buffalo, Mich.

“Once they learn the joy of running, that carries over,” she said.

Whitney Lamberson and Taken (left), who took second at the eastern regional, advance to for the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals on Saturday.

Credit: For the Sun-Times

Taken has matured very quickly; quicker than his uncle, whom Lamberson also trained. So she has high hopes for Saturday.

One of the coolest events is the head-to-head competition in the 30-weave in an up-and-back course consisting of 60 weave poles.

Events will be live-streamed at IncredibleDogChallenge.com. It will air on NBC at 2 p.m. Jan. 2.

HUNTING: The Nature Conservancy will do an advanced draw this year instead of a daily draw for waterfowl hunting opportunities at Emiquon Preserve. Application deadline is Oct. 7. Details are at nature.org/EmiquonHunting.

CORN: For Illinois hunters doing scouting for the opening of bow season for deer on Oct. 1, corn harvest was 13 percent complete statewide through Sunday, short of the five-year average of 22. But corn-picking should pick up fast this week.

STRAY CAST: In the beanball battle with the Cardinals, Joe Maddon showed he swims with all the other old baseball sticklebacks.

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SHOW & GO

NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUNTING & FISHING DAYS: Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area, Yorkville, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, nihfd.org

Canoes ready in 2014 for the Northern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area in Yorkville.

Credit: Dale Bowman