Even with thousands of dogs, handlers and support teams filling the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, performance events manage to draw plenty of competitors and fans.

It’s (Almost) All About Speed

Six hundred and forty-three dogs, including those run by juniors, did the speed and accuracy thing in the annual AKC Agility Invitational over December 14-16, 2012.

“It went very well,” says AKC Agility Director Carrie DeYoung. “It was wonderful to be in Orlando for a second year. It makes the planning so much easier when you know what to expect.” Since AENC’s launch in 2001, it has been in Long Beach, Calif., some years and in Florida other years. It’s expected to remain in Orlando for at least the next few years.

The junior agility handlers competed on Friday, and one of DeYoung’s special memories comes from that competition. “Sydney Ryan with Border Collie Mystic Looked N Liked It MX MXJ won a very competitive 16-inch Time 2 Beat Class on Friday,” she says.

In the Junior Superior agility class, KaitlynDreeseand Border Collie Phil, Brooke Netherland with Shetland Sheepdog Fuze and Brianne Farr with Aussie Rocket, from left, shown with Carrie DeYoung, came out on top.Not shown is Beagle Mac and Sierra Martin who won the 12-inch Junior Superior division. Photo © AKC.

Nine hardworking young women swept the agility portion of the junior agility classes this year.  In the Junior Excellent class, Avery Adams, KaitlynDreese, Dana George, Chase Koetter and Blake Rivas ran their courses the fastest with the fewest faults. Their dogs were a Labrador, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Havanese and English Cocker Spaniel, respectively. For the Junior Superior class, the winners were, again, KaitlynDreese with a different Border Collie, Brianne Farr with an Aussie and Brooke Netherland with a Shetland Sheepdog.

In the Junior Superior agility class, KaitlynDreeseand Border Collie Phil, Brooke Netherland with Shetland Sheepdog Fuze and Brianne Farr with Aussie Rocket, from left, shown with Carrie DeYoung, came out on top.Not shown is Beagle Mac and Sierra Martin who won the 12-inch Junior Superior division. Photo © AKC.

DeYoung says there are so many “wonderful, heartwarmingstories behind many of the dogs and handlers” at the invitational that “we could write a novel. As with each event, it is fun to see those who have been invited for multiple years and equally as delightful to get to meet those for whom it is their first trip to the invitational.”

If you haven’t been to the Orange County Convention Center to see this event, it’s under premium conditions. Even though the agility rings are set up indoors, the dogs run on real grass – yes, real grass – laid down in huge sections.

Taking advantage of the temperate, windless, indoor climate and all that lovely grass were Johanna Ammentorp and Toy Fox Terrier NAC MACH7 Rosen Hill’s Blink Of An Eye MXC2 MJG3, ‘Blink,’ who took the title in the 8-inch division. Estelle Robinson handled MACH2 China Road Ziggy’s Split Decision MXS MJG OF, a Chinese Crested known as ‘Ziggy,’ to the top spot in the 12-inch division. An All American Dog, registered with AKC Canine Companion program, was the 16-inch winner. MACH2 Crush MXS MJS XF, ‘Crush, was handled ArynHervel. In the 20-inch division, SilvinaBruera and Border Collie ‘Maja,’ MACH7 Blackwatch Limited Edition Maja MXC2, were the big winners. And, finally, another All American was the fastest, most accurate runner in the 24-inch division: MACH Roo! CD MXB MJS, ‘Roo,’ with Stacey Campbell. Four of the final winners traveled from California to Florida for the event. Blink and Ammentorp headed from cold Wisconsin to sunny Florida to compete.

The winners of the 2012 AKC Agility Invitational were Toy Fox Terrier Blink with Johanna Ammentorp and Chinese Crested Ziggy with Estelle Robinson, in back, and, in front from left, All American Dog Crush with ArynHervel, Border Collie Maja with SilvinaBruera and All American Dog Roo with Stacey Campbell. Photo © AKC/Great Dane Photo.

DeYoung summed up the 2012 invitational this way: “This year we had a particularly consistent group of exhibitors and dogs who did very well meeting the challenge of each course they stepped up to run.”

And they have the ribbons, prizes and cash awards to prove it.

The ‘Good’ Dogs Show Off Too

Over at the obedience rings, with an additional one added this year, 144 dogs demonstrated their obedience skills under the guidance of their handlers for the AKC National Obedience Invitational. Slightly more than 100 of those dogs did eight rounds Saturday and again on Sunday, while 42 of them did two rounds with their junior handlers.

“The atmosphere was vibrant from day one with the AKC National Juniors Obedience Competition and the AKC National Obedience Invitational kicking off on Saturday,” says AKC Obedience Director Pam Manaton. “The AKC team of six did a tremendous job of improving our processes to streamline the running of the event and was able to publish event statistics during the competition better than in past years.

“It’s always a challenge to run a national competition, but with 10 rings running two separate competitions, it would not be possible without the help of a great volunteer base. The volunteers were a tremendous help to make this event such a huge success,” she says.

Ward Falkner and Spirit’s ZimZam Zoom repeated their win of 2011 in the AKC National Obedience Invitational. Photo © AKC by Pix ‘N’ Pages.


At the end of two days,NOC OTCH Spirit’s ZimZam Zoom UDX7 OM4, a Golden Retriever owned by Ward Falkner of North Vancouver, BC, Canada, were still standing, in a repeat performance from 2011. First runner-up was Golden Retriever OTCH One Ash Dave & Buster UDX OM3, owned by David Maurer of New Hampshire. Shetland Sheepdog OTCH Eastbrooke Blue Ridge Treasure UDX3 OM5 RE AX MXJ AXP AJP OF with Vicky Gillow of Virginia was 2nd runner-up, and Border CollieOTCH HC Redtop Sidekick VCD1 UDX3 OM6 GO HIBs HXAs with Jeannie Dennard of Oregon was 3rd runner-up.

It wasn’t a standard finish, according to Manaton, because of a three-way tie for the 3rd runner-up placement and a two-way tie for 2nd place in the Herding Group awards, requiring runoffs. “This was a very exciting climax to the weekend,” she says.

Junior obedience winners in the Novice Senior class were, from left, Morgan Gardner with her Labrador Retriever, Brianne Farr with her Border Collie and her Australian Shepherd (1st and 3rd) and Micha Bender with her German Shepherd Dog. Photo © AKC.

A runoff was needed in junior obedience as well, when a three-way tie developed for 1st place in the Beginner Novice Senior class. Ultimately, though,William Zachary Freedman and Shetland Sheepdog Pinnacle Just A Bud RA MX MXB MXJ MJB OF got the blue ribbon. Other junior 1st place winners included Shea McGuinness and Bailey’s Irish Dreamer BN RN, an English Springer Spaniel in Beginner Novice Junior; Tom Corlette V and Hunter, a Golden Retriever, in Beginner Novice Intermediate; Avery Adams and OTCH MACH5 Badgersbrook Lucy Sparkles UDX8 OM6 VER RAE MXB2 MJB2 MXF MFB TQX T2B, a Golden Retriever, in Novice Beginner; Palmer Cross and Kuventre Life From The Ashes Phoenix CD, a Golden Retriever, in Novice Junior; and Brianne Farr and Powerhouse Cash It All In CDX RE, a Border Collie, in Novice Senior. If Avery’s and Brianne’s names seem familiar, it’s because they were winners in the junior agility event too.

Looking back a few days afterward, Manatonsays, “For me, I think what will stick in my memory for quite some time is the level of focus that all the dogs had in the runoffs after two intense days of competing in 16 rounds of competition. The teamwork displayed by all of the exhibitors and dogs throughout the weekend was phenomenal from the Juniors through the most seasoned participants at the NOI.”

These dogs and their handlers, too, took home ribbons, prizes and cash to reward that focus.

Now it’s time to move on to 2013 for all these and many other dedicated obedience and agility handlers and competitors.