The 2011 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals took place Oct. 1 at Purina Farms, just outside St. Louis, Mo., and "incredible" is just the word to describe the event. In addition to more than 50 competitors and their dogs, hundreds of fans — many with their own incredible dogs in tow — filled the stands.

A world record was broken in the Diving Dog event and a Parson Russell Terrier beat the big dogs in the 30-Weave Up-and-Back. Athletes came from all over the country, as well as Japan and Poland, to compete in Agility (both large and small dog), Diving Dog, Jack Russell Hurdle Race, 30-Weave Up-and-Back, Freestyle Flying Disc, and this year’s demo of Speed and Catch. And as impressive as these competitions were, perhaps more inspiring was the attitude of the competitors.

Over and over handlers talked about how important the fun factor is at these events. The camaraderie among the competitors was palpable — hugs and handshakes abounded, as did cheers and, for the dogs, handfuls of treats. While those who placed were clearly thrilled, there may have been a few tears of joy shed by Lise Ann Strum whose Belgian Malinois, Vhoebe, won the Diving Dog event. Yet everyone reiterated that they were there to have fun with their dogs and placing was just a bonus.

In addition to our article about breeds that tend to do best at this competition and last year’s highlight video, look for exclusive videos and interviews from the event. In the meantime, check out this year’s results here!