WESTMINSTER AGILITY ABILITY

It’s a barking good time as we go behind the scenes with some of the Westminster Kennel Club’s most agile. You won’t want to miss these furry athletes!

If you’re interested in attending the Westminster agility competition, you can go here for more information.

 Aired on January 31, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> IF YOU'RE NOT INTO FOOTBALL, LIKE ME, YOU MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE LEFT OUT OF THE SUPER FESTIVITIES THIS TIME OF YEAR.

WHILE MOST OF THE COUNTRY IS GEARING UP FOR THE BIG GAME, ANOTHER KIND OF WORLD CLASS COMPETITION THAT REWARDS SPEED, STRENGTH, AND AGILITY, IS SET TO TAKE PLACE HERE IN NEW YORK.

BUT THIS ISN'T FOR YOUR AVERAGE FIVE-TIME ALL-AMERICAN, THESE ATHLETES COMPETE ON ALL FOURS.

THEY DON'T KNOW IF THEY QUALIFIED, THEY DON'T KNOW HOW WELL THEY DID.

THEY DON'T CARE.

THEY JUST GET TO SPEND TIME WITH ME AND DO THINGS THEY LOVE TO DO.

AND THEY LOVE THE CHEERS, THEY LIKE THE ATTENTION.

THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW AS A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY IN NEW YORK.

IN 1877, AS AMERICA AND THE CITY WERE STILL RECOVERING FROM THE AFTER EFFECTS OF THE CIVIL WAR, FOUNDING MEMBERS CREATED A TOG SHOW AS A WAY TO LIFT SPIRITS AND BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER AROUND THEIR LOVE FOR THEIR FURRY COMPANIONS.

NOW, WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB PRESIDENT CHAT REYNDERS SAYS AGILITY IS TAKING OFF IN POPULARITY.

AGILITY IS SOMETHING THAT'S BECOME EXTREMELY POPULAR.

IT'S A WONDERFUL SPORT.

IT'S A LITTLE MORE ACCESSIBLE TO SOME PEOPLE, BECAUSE THERE'S A CLOCK.

AND THE DOGS HAVE TO BEAT A TIME, AND THERE ARE DIFFERENT WEIGHT CLASSES AND DIFFERENT DOGS HAVE DIFFERENT STANDARDS THEY HAVE TO HIT.

WE ALWAYS FELT THAT WE WANT TO SHOW OFF AS MUCH AS WE CAN ABOUT DOGS.

SO AGILITY IS JUST ANOTHER PART.

IT'S NOT BASED ON HOW YOU JUMP, IT'S BASED ON THE SIZE.

YOU CAN'T FORCE A DOG TO DO ANY OF THESE OBSTACLES.

YOU CAN'T DRAG THEM THROUGH A TIRE.

THEIR WILLINGNESS AND EAGERNESS TO DO IT.

THEY KNOW WHEN WE GET TO THE PARKING LOT, THEY GO NUTS.

HE JUST LOVES IT.

HE WANTS ME TO PUT HIM ON THE FLOOR.

I FEEL LIKE I'M KEEPING YOU FROM YOUR TRUE PASSION.

ALL OF THESE DOGGY ATHLETES HAVE BACK STORIES AS COMPELLING AS THEIR ABILITIES.

LIKE RYKA, WHO JOINED HEATHER'S PACK OF CORGIS AS A PUP.

SHE KNEW RIGHT AWAY THAT HE WOULD BE PERFECT FOR AGILITY.

HE'S JUST BEEN THE EASIEST DOG TO TRAIN.

HE'S AN AWESOME LITTLE DOG.

BUT THE ROAD TO WESTMINSTER HASN'T BEEN AN EASY ONE.

IN 2016, HEATHER SUFFERED A DOUBLE BLOW WHEN HER MOM, HER BIGGEST SUPPORTER, PASSED AWAY UNEXPECTEDLY, AND RIGHT BEFORE THE WESTMINSTER AGILITY TRIAL, RYKA SUFFERED A POTENTIALLY CAREER ENDING BACK INJURY.

HE HAD A BLOWN DISK IN 2016.

WE THOUGHT HE WAS DONE.

HE COULDN'T WALK NORMALLY, AND I WAS DEVASTATED.

THAT'S WHEN HE SAYS THE AGILITY COMMUNITY STEPPED UP.

THEY DID A GO FUND ME.

AND THEY PAID FOR HER MRI AND TREATMENTS.

I HAD PEOPLE COME UP I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SAY I HEARD ABOUT RYKA'S STORY.

TO YOU AND HOW SPECIAL THIS ANS- LITTLE DOG IS, AND WE WANT TO HELP.

AND BY 2018, RYKA BECAME THE FIRST DOG OF HER BREED TO MAKE THE WESTMINSTER AGILITY FINAL.

BUT SHE'S NOT THE ONLY COMPETITOR MAKING A NAME FOR HERSELF.

THE HAIRLESS, FABULOUS TEN-POUND BALL OF ENERGY IS PEPE, THE ONLY CHINESE CRESTED COMPETING IN AGILITY.

HIS MOM SAYS THAT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE THE BREED IS SO OFTEN MISJUDGED.

THEY JUST WANT TO PLEASE YOU AND THEY WANT TO BE NEAR YOU.

FOR AGILITY, THE DOG HAS TO WORK AWAY FROM YOU, SO THAT MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT.

AND SKILLS AND OBEDIENCE AND AGILITY AREN'T THE ONLY PLACE WHERE IS CHINESE CRESTEDS GET MISJUDGED.

THEY'RE OFTEN THE BREED KNOWN AS THE WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG.

MOST OF THE ONES THAT WEN, I THINK ALL OF THE ONES THAT WIN, ARE MIXES.

THEY'RE NOT PURE CHINESE CRESTEDS.

THE LAST ONE WAS A CRESTED CHIHUAHUA MIX, AND THE DOG WAS VERY OLD, HAD LOST ITS TEETH.

PEPE, HOWEVER, IS A SPRY 6-YEAR-OLD, AND HE'S HAD HIS FAIR SHARE OF SETBACKS.

HE'S HAD TWO MAJOR SURGERIES.

THE FIRST ONE HE WAS UNDER 6 MONTHS OLD, AND THEY HAVE TO CUT OFF THE HEAD OF THE FEMUR.

SO THAT BONE IS MISSING AND THE BODY FORMED A PSEUDO JOINT.

AND HE HAD TO LEARN HOW TO WALK AGAIN.

IN ADDITION TO BEING A RESILIENT ATHLETE, PEPE IS THE SUBJECT OF HIS OWN CHILDREN'S BOOK, PEPE LEARNS TO RUN AGAIN.

HIS MOM, CHRISTINA, SAYS THIS TINY POWER HOUSE IS ALSO QUITE THE FASHIONISTA.

HE HAS SWEATERS, PAJAMAS, JACKETS.

THE ONESIES, AND SOMETIMES HE LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE SUMO WRESTLER BECAUSE HE'S WEARING SO MANY LAYERS, AND IF IT'S REALLY COLD WE HAVE TO PUT BOOTS ON HIM.

SOMETHING ELSE THAT SETS AGILITY APART IS ELIGIBILITY.

MIXED BREEDS, OR ALL-AMERICAN DOGS, ARE ALSO WELL REPRESENTED.

LIKE THIS ALL-AMERICAN INBRED.

DOBBY WAS ABANDONED IF A CAGE OUTSIDE A POUND AS A PUPPY, AND STEPHANIE, WHO WAS LOOKING FOR AN OVERSEAS COMPANION, SAYS SHE FELL IN LOVE INSTANTLY.

I SAW HIM ONLINE, AND HE REMINDED ME A LOT OF MY DOG I LEFT WITH MY PARENTS IN THE STATES WHEN I MOVED.

AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM RIGHT AWAY.

WHEN THEY MOVED BACK TO THE STATES IN 2014, STEPHANIE SAYS SHE KNEW VERY LITTLE ABOUT HER FURRY COMPANION, OTHER THAN HOW MUCH SHE ADORED HIM.

I ALWAYS WANTED TO DO AGILITY BUT NEVER HAD A DOG THAT LISTENED WELL ENOUGH.

SO WHEN THEY ASKED IF THERE WAS ANYBODY THAT WANTED TO START A BEGINNER'S AGILITY CLASS, I WAS LIKE, ME, ME.

AND WE NEVER LOOKED BACK.

BUT LIKE MOST OF THE DOG MOMS AND DADS CHEERING ON THEIR COMPANION COMPETITORS, AGILITY SUSPECT JUST A JOB, IT'S A HOBBY.

AND LIKE STEPHANIE, ALL THE DOG MOMS THAT WE MET HAVE FULL-TIME JOBS, TOO.

IT'S A HOBHOBBY, BUT MY LIFE REVOLVES AROUND MY DOG.

WE TRAIN ALMOST EVERY DAY, WE COMPETE AT LEAST TWO WEEKENDS A MONTH.

SO IT'S VERY CONSUMING.

AND AGILITY, A SWIFT AND NIMBLE DOG TAKES THE TOP PRIZE.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE RYKA, PEPE, AND DOBBY IN ACTION, THE WESTMINSTER AGILITY CHAMPIONSHIP WILL AIR FEBRUARY 9th AND 0th.

CHECK OUT METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE DETAILS.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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