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AKC Rally Events Now Open to Mixed-Breed Dogs

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AKC Rally Events Now Open to Mixed-Breed Dogs

A mixed-breed dog competes at the inaugural AKC Rally, Agility and Obedience trials held at various locations nationwide last weekend. (Photo courtesy of AKC)

By Robin Wallace
Last weekend more than 500 dogs made history in the first American Kennel Club Rally, Agility and Obedience trials for mixed-breed canines.

"It's been nothing but positive," Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman, told Zootoo Pet News. "I was at the first event in New Jersey, and the mixed-breed owners said they felt nothing but welcomed."

The road to these trials started last year, in response to surveys and inquiries. The AKC went with what Peterson called "a very good idea" -- one since dubbed the AKC Canine Partners program -- to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the organization. The program allows owners to register their mixed-breed dogs, making their pets eligible for participation in AKC events.

During the inaugural weekend of events, a total of 29 AKC-licensed clubs hosted 75 AKC Rally, Agility and Obedience trials -- all open to the Canine Partners program enrollees. While April 3 and 4 marked the start of mixed-breed competitions, according to Peterson, 2,000 events have already been scheduled this year "and that number is growing every day."

It's a growth pattern Peterson expects to continue.

"Once they earn their novice titles and move up, then there will be mixed-breed dogs in the higher levels while new dogs come in," said Peterson, adding that the experience is what gets owners hooked.

"People discover the deep human and animal bond once you start training, which is different than before when you were just hanging out on the couch."

While the training and competitions might heighten an owner's awareness of the human-animal connection, Peterson said there is a great payoff for the canines.

"It's great for dogs to get engaged, physically exercised and have mental stimulation," Peterson said of the AKC sporting events. "It gives the dogs an outlet and the owners a resource to bring their dog along to make them better socialized and better behaved."

The Weekend's Nationwide Highlights

Among the many firsts that took place this past weekend, five dogs earned six AKC titles at events in Bakersfield, Calif., Freehold, NJ, and St. Louis, Mo. Here are the highlights:

Michele Capone and her dog "Cheyenne" were the first AKC Canine Partners enrollees to compete. They ran in the Novice Jumpers with Weaves class at the Somerset Hills Kennel Club Agility Trial in Freehold, NJ on April 2, 2010.

Lynn Candiano with her dog "Rosie" and Sandy Mainardi with "Ginger" became some of the first competitors to put titles on their dogs. They earned the Novice Agility and Novice Agility Jumpers titles respectively at the Afghan Hound Club of Northern N.J. Agility Trial in Freehold, NJ on April 4, 2010.

Lauren Murray Bennett and her dog "Timmy" earned their Novice Agility and Novice Agility Jumpers titles on April 4, 2010, at the agility trial hosted by the Gateway Agility Club of Suburban St. Louis, Dana Pike Chamberlain and "Tangle" earned their Novice Agility title.

Sharon Stubs and her dog "Katylee" became the first mixed-breed team to earn a title in an AKC Rally. They earned their Rally Novice title at the Kern County Kennel Club of Bakersfield in Bakersfield, CA on April 4, 2010.

Pam Vojtas and her dogs "Charlie" and "Quincy" had qualifying runs at the Dog Obedience Training Club of Hollywood Rally and Obedience trials in Davie, Fla., on April 3-4, 2010. Pam and her dogs were featured in the March/April issue of "AKC Family Dog Magazine."

The "We Have a Dream Team" formed the first competitive obedience team made up of two mixed-breed dogs and two purebred dogs. Named to express the new spirit of unity that has come to the sport, they competed in the obedience team competition at the Washington State Obedience Training Club event in Seattle.

For more information about AKC Canine Partners visit www.akcCaninePartners.org.

To find an event in your area, visit the AKC Event Search page. Be sure to check the option "All American Dog/Mixed-Breed," to search for events open to AKC Canine Partner enrollees.

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