Pets
8:45 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Mutts at Westminster?

Dog and handler running an agility course
Credit Dave Hamster (David Merrett) [Flickr]

Westminster Kennel Club has a tradition that goes back more then 130 years, but in 2014 it's not the purebred dogs that are capturing news headlines but the mutts that are making a showing in the WKC's   first time ever agility competition.

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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, scheduled for this coming Monday and Tuesday, is probably the most prestigious annual event for purebred canines. For more than 100 years, it has been open exclusively to dogs with only the best pedigrees – until now. This year, something new has been added to the schedule, the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, happening today. And, it’s open to both purebred and mixed-breed animals.

When talking about opening the agility championship to mixed breeds, David Frei (spokesperson for Westminster Kennel Club and long-time co-host of the dog show telecast) said, “It allows us to really stand behind what we say about Westminster being the show for all the dogs in our lives.”

One of the “mutts” having a chance to compete in the agility event is Jimmy, a mixed terrier (and shelter rescue) who was adopted from the Richardson Humane Society in Texas. He may not have all the fancy paperwork that a pedigreed animal would have, but he’s got lots of energy, and ability, and enthusiasm.

Unlike the dog show itself which is based on appearance and on how well a dog conforms to the standard for a particular breed, the agility competition is about skill and brains and determination. It’s also about teamwork because the human and the dog have to work together to have a fast, clean run.

Jimmy has been lucky at least twice now, once when he was adopted and again when his entry was chosen as one of 228 selected in a random draw from more than six hundred who applied to compete in the Westminster agility championship. But today he won’t be relying on luck to win; instead he will be relying on his owner and teammate, and on his training and skills as he tackles the challenges and obstacles on the agility course.

Whichever dog wins the Master Agility Championship at Westminster - purebred or mixed breed - it will be a celebration of the special bond between animal and human that makes these furry creatures our best friends, when we’re speaking of pets.

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