Yesterday Dave and I participated in the first Westminster KC agility trial with Chili, Salsa, and Candy. This was first class event, as I would have expected. A dog event in Manhattan comes with its own challenges (like convincing the dogs to poop someplace other than the ring), but getting into the city and unloading was as stress free as possible.
This was an excellent/ masters only trial with a random draw for entries. We opted to enter our most consistent dogs to have the best chance of success. I had considered entering Juno, since she would have been the only GBGV able to compete at Westminster this year. Bringing her might have brought some publicity for the breed, but I don’t think she could have handled the challenging courses and chaotic environment without getting really overstimulated and out of control. I kind of feel that Juno and I have done our part to promote the breed without a lot of appreciation and don’t plan to do events like this with her unless it’s what feel is best for us as a team. Chili and Salsa were the only PBGVs running in agility, so they got quite a bit of attention.
As you would have expected, the trial drew a large crowd of spectators. This was hard for my sensitive hound girls, but they stayed focused on me and worked through their worry to have clean runs. Later in the day another exhibitor commented to me about how much the crowd loved my PBGVs. This helped give me some perspective because all I was thinking was how much my PBGVs did not love the crowd. Both hounds qualified in standard and picked up some MACH points. The jumpers course was somewhat tight and international in style. Salsa shut down in the weave poles and took a few jumps to recover, so she ended up a little over time. Chili ran later and I knew I would have to push hard to get our double Q, so I did some creative handling and a lot of blind crosses to keep her moving. We did get the QQ, but no finals spot since pretty much everybody is faster than us. Dave and Candy had a Q on the jumpers course also.
Most of the press relating to this event involved the fact that mixed breeds were competing at Westminster for the first time and this was a common topic of questions from a lot of the reporters present. A fact that hasn’t been mentioned in the press is that many of the successful mixed breeds in agility are not shelter dogs, but purpose bred Sport Mixes created to maximize speed in sports like agility and flyball. One reporter seemed surprised to learn that the vast majority of the dogs competing in agility were not rescues, but had come from responsible breeders who screen breeding stock for health and work to provide early socialization for their litters. If selective breeding didn’t work in dogs, we wouldn’t have the wide variety of breeds that exist today. Plenty of scientific research exists on the importance of early handling and socialization for puppies. I hate that it isn’t socially acceptable to recommend choosing a dog based on objective criteria like breed, size, coat type, health, and temperament instead of subjectively based on a sad story. If rehabilitating dogs is the right choice for you, great. But if someone is looking for a competition sports dog, a working service dog, or even an easy going family pet, I believe that the odds of finding the right dog are often better by working with a responsible breeder. I’m proud to be the breeder of Chili, Salsa, and Candy and don’t think I should have to apologize to anyone for that.