I’m a little late in reporting, but back in December The Clever Hounds traveled to Florida to represent PBGVs in the AKC FAST CAT Invitational, Agility Invitational, and the National Owner Handler Series Finals. These events were very different this year, with no spectators allowed and strict COVID precautions in place. Overall I thought AKC did a great job of developing a plan to keep everyone safe and of following through with the rules and policies.

We traveled to Florida in the RV, which allowed us to completely avoid hotels and dining in restaurants. The south is much laxer about COVID restrictions, (not that they are necessarily enforced in the north either…..), so we weren’t really comfortable venturing outside of the safe bubble of the dog show. Because I’m not really able to leave Chili with anyone at this point in her life, all of the dogs came with us. Elf and Silk thought the trip was really boring, but we reminded them of all them fun stuff they get to do on normal trial weekends.

We arrived on Tuesday for check in and a warm up run for FAST CAT. I was interested to see that AKC is now doing height cards for FAST CAT. The process was similar to getting a card for agility, but evidently different departments at AKC don’t talk to each other because you need a separate card for each. Alice hadn’t run FAST CAT in over a year and the track was much fancier than she is used to, but she had a great time and remembered what to do.

This was the first FAST CAT Invitational. FAST CAT is straight line lure coursing to provide a 100 yard dash. The #1 dog of each breed from 2019 was invited to participate. An interesting thing about FAST CAT rankings, is that they are based on a dog’s top 3 runs. This should mean that the dogs invited are really the fastest, and not just the ones who went to the most trials. Alice isn’t really competitive in the medium height category, which includes dogs up to 18 inches tall, but she ran over 20 MPH on all three runs and came very close to her personal best time.

Because there were so few dog shows last year, Alice had also managed to make the National Owner Handler Series finals. She was only shown one weekend, but had a group placement so I guess that got us enough points. I really don’t miss the breed ring and don’t know that I’ll go back to showing when there are shows again, but this was a chance to say a quick hello to some PBGV friends.

Friday afternoon started the AKC Agility Invitational. This is one of my favorite events because the Top 5 and #1 Preferred dogs of each breed are invited. This makes a terrific showcase of breed diversity and typically includes some of the most consistent dog and handler teams out there. The only thing I wish would change about this event would be to ensure that the dogs competing are actually the breed they are claiming to represent. It’s far too easy to slip an All-American dog through the PAL system, but with DNA technology it doesn’t seem unreasonable to require verification of breed for dogs with unknown pedigrees. I’m not saying that mixed breed or rescued dogs shouldn’t compete in agility, but I do feel that allowing someone to misrepresent their dog’s breed is in conflict with AKC’s mission.

This was CC’s first year at the invitational. Because she is so tiny, she has always run in the preferred classes, so she had to be #1 to be invited. She managed to do that not only for the qualifying period (July-June) but also for the 2019 calendar year. CC handled the environment well and didn’t have any course faults all weekend. She had clear rounds in Time 2 Beat and both Saturday rounds, but by Sunday she was getting tired and ended up just over course time. Preferred dogs at the Invitational compete with the regular dogs and don’t get extra time, which would have made the difference for CC. Here are the videos of CC’s runs.

This was Gromit’s third Invitational. Getting to the agility area means walking through the breed rings where bitches in season are allowed to show. Each day, Gromit whined, pulled, and chattered his teeth as we made our way through the building, but he settled when we got to the agility section. He struggles with arousal under normal circumstances and this weekend was no exception. He ran clear on Rounds 1, 3, and 4, but got a little too over the top and couldn’t keep it together in Time 2 Beat or standard. Overall, I was happy with his performance- even without spectators this is a tough show for a distractible dog. Here are the videos of Gromit’s runs.

Spice was the star of the weekend. She ran clear and fast on Time 2 Beat and all 4 invitational runs. At the end of Saturday, she was ranked 13th in the 12 inch class and placed 4th in the Hound group overall. I knew that perfect runs on Sunday might not be enough to get a final spot, but we ran all out and ended up in 12th place. Because only one dog of each breed can advance to finals, this was enough to get us a finals spot. Spice was the first PBGV to make finals at the invitational or any other major agility event. I honestly felt like we had met our goals by making finals, but was really thrilled when Spice gave me a smooth, clear run. We got to sit in the “hot seat” for a couple dogs and ended up in 7th place overall. Here are the videos of Spice’s runs.

Happy New Year from the Clever Hounds!