Last weekend we traveled to Perry, Georgia so Spice, Gromit, and Silk could compete in the National Agility Championship. Qualifying for this event requires 7 double Qs (qualifying in master standard and jumpers on the same day) and 550 speed points. It’s also possible to get some of the points from Premier courses, but we hadn’t run Premier during the qualifying period with our dogs. This is a huge event, with 6 rings and over 1000 of the fastest dogs in AKC Agility. Unlike the Invitational, where a specific number of each breed are invited, this event is dominated by more traditional agility breeds like Border Collies. Gromit and Spice were the only PBGVs in attendance. 

Running agility with a non-traditional breed can mean feeling caught between two worlds sometimes. In the PBGV world, it’s unfortunately still common for sports like agility to be seen as activities for dogs that aren’t good enough for the show ring or as something that any dog can do. Attending an event like the NAC is a great reminder of how far the sport of agility has developed and of just how much we ask of our dogs. Most dogs may be able to learn some aspects of the sport, but agility is a very challenging sport for dogs and handlers. Competing at an elite level really isn’t something to be taken lightly. The courses were challenging, as they should be at a national championship, but the long days, dirt rings, travel, and variable weather are all pressures that the dogs have to deal with also. This requires a dog with a high level of confidence, biddability, great structure, and physical conditioning.

All three of our dogs had some clear rounds and Spice was clear on all three of the official NAC runs, putting her in 25th place out of 148 twelve inch dogs. I was really happy with this, especially knowing that at 26 pounds, Spice was one of the heaviest dogs in her jump height. The finalists in her class were all Shelties, Miniature Poodles, and sport mixes. 

Purpose bred sport mixes have been around for a while, usually Border Collies bred to terriers, whippets, or Papillions. I know this concept is upsetting to some of my dog show friends but don’t really see where breeding for agility is inherently different than breeding for dog shows. What is hard for me to accept is when competing with mixed breed dogs in the sport of agility is presented as somehow morally superior to running purebred dogs. Even subtle things like the announcer at finals talking about how great is that so many mixed breed dogs competed at the NAC feels like a slap in the face to preservation breeders.  This is an example of how far AKC has strayed from it’s original mission. I agree with letting mixed breed dogs compete as long as they are competing as mixed breeds and not misrepresented as purebred through the PAL program, but mixed breed does not mean rescued. Realistically speaking there are more purpose bred mixed breed dogs in the US than there are of any breed.  We aren’t going to change that I don’t know that we need to, but as a preservation breeder it would be nice if an organizations like AKC would care more about protecting endangered breeds and less about political correctness.