OMG! Mutts at Westminster!

Dog Agility

Story at-a-glance -

  • In a generally well-received move to show that dogs can do more than strike a pose and walk in circles, the Westminster dog show added an agility event to this year’s schedule and opened the field to mixed breeds as well as purebreds.
  • Agility challenges are off-leash competitions in which dogs weave around poles, dash through tunnels, and leap, climb and jump over obstacles. Dogs trained in the sport are often tremendous athletes who are healthy, fit, and well-balanced.
  • In the first-ever Westminster Agility Championship, a purebred Border Collie took top prize. Top “All-American” (mixed breed) honors went to Roo, a Husky mix from San Francisco with a sketchy past and some serious agility skills!

By Dr. Becker

In February, for the first time since 1884, mixed breed dogs mixed it up with the purebreds at the Westminster dog show's new Agility Championship event. The event drew well over 200 entries from 23 states, and of the 63 breeds competing, 16 were "All-American" dogs (a.k.a. mutts, Heinz 57's, mixed breeds).

The agility event is of course not the Best in Show competition, which is open only to purebreds. But let's face it – agility dogs are active and sporty, and certainly prefer a good healthy romp to spending endless hours being shampooed, blown dry, fluffed and fussed over!

Agility: A Dog's Sport

In media interviews, many of the mixed breed owners at Westminster – perhaps a bit intimidated by the presence of so many celebrated purebred dogs -- felt the need to point out that mutts are special because no two look the same.

But what I appreciate about them is that unlike the dolled-up show dogs who spend so much of their lives being groomed, learning to pose, waiting in kennels, and crisscrossing the country, more mutts are allowed to be true to their canine natures. Even better is that agility dogs are often incredible athletes who are healthy, well-conditioned, rarely bored, and best of all, they get to have fun!

Agility events are common at other shows like the United Kennel Club's Premier show. On the agility course, off-leash canine competitors weave around poles, dash through tunnels, and leap, climb and jump over obstacles. These activities certainly provide for a much more natural expression of doggy-ness than trotting at the end of a leash around a judging ring.

And the Winner Is…

At the brand new Westminster Agility Championship, a purebred Border Collie named Kelso took top prize.

Top All-American honors went to Roo, a Husky mix from San Francisco owned by Stacey Campbell. A few short years ago, Roo was a stray in a local park who was picked up by the San Francisco SPCA. She was adopted, and returned. Then she was adopted a second time. "And the second time that she got adopted out, I deemed her the dog that got away," said Campbell.

A couple of weeks later, a friend from the shelter called Campbell and said, "your dog's back." And the rest is history.

In addition to being the top All-American dog at Westminster, Roo was also one of four runners-up for the overall agility prize.

Here's Roo, showing off her impressive agility chops.

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