For the first time since its 138 year old history, the famed Westminster Kennel Club, will include mixed-breed dogs. But instead of being judged on appearance and temperament, they earn points for speed, sharp turns and scaling jumps and other obstacles. Next week, Westminster will be adding an agility competition to their conformation show.
Dog agility is a sport in which 4- and 2-legged teams race against the clock. The handler directs the dog to run through an obstacle course with tunnels, jumps, weave poles, teeter-totters, A-frames and dog walks, all designed to challenge their training skills.
I had the pleasure of speaking with two women with All American Dogs (the AKC verbiage for Mixed Breed Dog) heading to New York this week for the Westminster Agility Championship. Aryn Hervel and Stacey Campbell will be competing in the master’s agility challenge at Westminster with their “All American Dogs” Crush and Roo! (Note: the “!” is to emphasize Roo’s high energy.) They are amongst the elite group of only 16 Mixed Breed Dogs in the competition, totaling 225 dogs competing at an agility master’s level.
Crush (picture above over jump) and Roo! (pictured on next page) came from shelters, and both were returned several times due to their high energy. If the people who returned them only knew what they were capable of when their high energy was directed into fun training and a canine sport!
My conversation with Aryn Hervel:
L.S. What do you think of the new changes to the Westminster show of inviting mixed breeds to compete in agility?
A.H. “I am pretty happy about the new changes at Westminster. Having agility be part of this huge event and televising it is great for the sport and dogs everywhere. Going all the way and allowing mixed breed dogs to enter is even better. I just hope people at home watching on TV will think about interacting with their own dogs a little more. And anyone thinking about getting a dog, might consider adopting a dog from a shelter after seeing some of our amazing All-American agility dogs whose life began at an animal shelter too.”
L.S. What do you know about Crush’s history and her breed mix?
A.H. “Crush, originally named Candy, was 4 months old when I adopted her. I got her from Cattle Dog Dreams, Australian Cattle Dog Rescue (no longer in existence). They only had her a week after picking her up from a local shelter that had adopted her out several times. She kept getting returned. She is about to celebrate her 6th birthday, which we decided should be on Valentine’s Day, since she was born somewhere around that date. We are not sure of her breed mixes, but she most closely resembles an Australian Cattle Dog mixed with a Terrier. There is probably some Chihuahua in there somewhere too. I don’t know many specific details about Crush’s history other than that she was brought to the shelter at about 10 weeks of age, and then adopted out and returned multiple times. One of those times she was adopted out along with another puppy (unrelated to her) and she was the one who was returned. I’m sure she was the crazier of the two!”
L.S. Do you have any suggestions for anyone wanting to adopt a high energy dog?
A.H. “My advice to anyone thinking of adopting a high energy dog is to make sure that this is the right dog for you. Any dog will require a walk every day, but a high energy one will require a much longer one, or several shorter ones, some fetch, a few kongs, and some training to give them some mental stimulation as well. Be realistic about what you want to live with. If it’s going to be a chore to do those things daily you might want to get a lower energy dog. If it’s totally your thing to go hiking every day, or jogging or run your dog along side your bike then maybe this is the dog for you! Even better if you think you’d like to get that dog into training classes or introduce him or her to a sport. There are so many to choose from!”
L.S. What are some of Crush’s agility accomplishments?
A.H. “Crush took 1st place, in 16″ height, in finals at the AKC Eukanumba Agility Invitationls in 2012 and 3rd place in finals in 2013. Crush has earned the title of Master Agility Champion four times, and is working on her 5th. We have been to two AKC National Agility Championships and are looking forward to this year’s event in Harrisburg, PA in March. And we were an alternate on the WAO US agility team in 2013.”
L.S. Why do you think Crush enjoys agility?
A.H. “I think Crush really loves agility because she loves to play games with me, and the more speed involved in those games, the better. Agility combines her love of running and jumping along with training. And of course she loves treats so there are always plenty of those when we do agility! Actually, I think we both love agility for the same reasons. I however, don’t usually get any food rewards. And she loves all the attention she gets on her Facebook page.“
Next: Interview with Stacey Campbell and her All American Dog, Roo!